Monday, July 24, 2006


It's always interesting when you answer the phone and the voice on the other end says, "Hi Shari! Here's a voice from your past..."

It was Rena.

In high school I didn't really fit into any clique - I was "popular" but didn't' hang with those kids, I participated in tons of sports but I wasn't a jock, I smoked WAY too much weed but I wasn't a stoner.

I hung out with Jim. We were our own clique. We did everything together - bouncing between other groups like a ball on a pin ball table.

Rena was the outcast, the untouchable. Every class has one or two, you know the ones. She was hyper and inappropriate and over-friendly. And people were incredibly mean to her.

When I was in fifth grade I came to school with my book bag full of little presents to give my friends. Rena rode my bus and that day I felt this overwhelming need to make her happy, to include her in the Christmas goodwill. I gave her one of the presents.

And she was so happy.

Throughout the rest of our school years she always gravitated toward me. I wasn't mean to her, really, but I wasn't nice either.

She was on same basketball team in high school that I was. We would do a drill where there was one person in the center with the ball and four or five other girls around them would do everything they could to get the ball from that center person.

When Rena was the center person everyone changed from basketball player to torturer. People would elbow her - really hard. They would slap and pinch when they thought the coach couldn't see. I didn't participate in that - but I said nothing to stop it. And sixteen years later I still think about that and am ashamed of my lack of integrity.

Rena called to ask about Jim. I had to tell her about his suicide. It was very hard to do. But the hardest thing came at the end of the conversation.

I apologized for my lack of compassion. Doing nothing can be a very shameful thing.

And you know what? She said she didn't remember it that way. She said that all she can remember is that I was the only one that was ever nice to her.

And that, I think, is the saddest thing of all.


At 7:09 AM, Blogger said...


At 7:14 AM, Blogger Amy said...

wow. Thanks for sharing this.

At 8:06 AM, Blogger trinamick said...

I too feel guilty that I didn't stand up for some of the weaker ones in my class. I was always nice to them personally, but I rarely told the bullies to knock it off. May we all get the opportunity to apologize like you did.

At 8:40 AM, Blogger Ant said...

I've got some similar feelings from school - not doing enough to help etc. But maybe the fact that she remembers only the good is the bit that we should focus on, rather than considering it sad?

I think I would *never* have had the balls to apologise...

You're fantastic too! :o)

At 9:46 AM, Blogger tiff said...

We were all young once, with the stupidity and selfishness that comes with being young. Take her at her word, and try to forgive yourself.

I too, would liekly not have had the courage to apologize. That's one hard thing you did, and you are to be commended for that act of decency.

At 11:19 AM, Blogger anika said...


At 5:52 PM, Blogger rennratt said...

As one who was tortured, take my advice:

Believe her. You will do no good continuing to feel bad for something she doesn't remember.

I rec'd an email from my main torturer about 5-6 years ago, seeking forgiveness. Seems he was marrying a nerd girl (he was THE man in high school) - and she insisted that he do this! I have never met her, but will always love her for it.

For the record, I forgave him on the spot.

At 6:28 PM, Blogger Kingfisher said...

I'll repeat the others. Wow.

I'll be doing some serious thinking for a while.


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