A.J. Rasmussen (names have been changed for individual's privacy.)
I received a letter dated April 21st, 2017 from one of my penpals who I have written almost three years. As I opened it, happy to have received mail that day, I began to read it as normal. It began with the typical good news regarding this pen-friend, Cheryl, and her thirteen-year-old daughter Samantha. Cheryl's problematic noise coming from the front end of her car had miraculously fixed itself, as the noise quit and the mechanic hadn't found any problems. And, Samantha, her very intelligent and kind daughter was doing great in school as normal, and improving day by day on her playing of the piano.
Then the letter took a gut wrenching turn, causing emotions to flow. Samantha had had a bad week. Her same aged close friend, Andrea, had been involved in a car accident as a passenger, she did not survive. The family had been coming home from church when they met a woman head on who was driving on the wrong side of the road, completely inebriated. Andrea would lose her life, her sister suffered a broken back and was blinded in one eye. As of this letter the sister was in ICU. The woman who hit them, the police said, was higher than high.
Cheryl, a single hardworking mother, was left alone to try and comfort her daughter. Samantha wanted to go to view the body at the funeral home, something Cheryl dreaded to experience her daughter going through. Knowing her daughter's delicate heart, she feared the impact all this might cause her.
The day prior to this letter being written, April 20th, only a day after the accident, Samantha did a lot of crying, such a tragedy for anyone to deal with, especially so for a thirteen-year-old. Her tears weren't only a product of the loss of her friend, no, but also because Andrea had been bullied at school by the other kids when she was alive. When Cheryl asked Samantha if the teachers did or might do anything about this, the response was, "Andrea wouldn't tell them about it."
Cheryl continued on with sharing something which for her was embarrassing to share. Her having to feel embarrassed saddened me. She herself, as a child in school, had been bullied by five girls. She too wouldn't say anything. This story coincides somewhat with the book, Middle of Nowhere, that I am currently writing. It has made the bullying in my book much more real, and no less saddening.
Why wouldn't two individuals, a generation apart, not report this bullying you, like me, might ask? Cheryl's reason, and Andrea's as well, they didn't believe the teachers would do anything about it. Cheryl and Andrea were beneficiaries of a single amazing and brave friend. For Cheryl, it was a neighbor gal named Stevie. Stevie took the mistreatment of Cheryl into her own hands. Cheryl stated that "Stevie came to my rescue." That to me is a superhero type of friend. She made it known that she wouldn't stand by and let her friend be bullied. I am a firm believer that there is always power in numbers. Because of this superhero friend, the bullying stopped. Stevie would have those girls running if they even thought of harassing Cheryl. This story is eerily similar to Samantha and Andrea's story. Samantha was the Stevie in Andrea's life. She may not have intimidated the bullies, but she did stand by this friend of hers. To me, Samantha too is a superhero, and I just ask you who are reading this to please send a prayer to heaven. A prayer that first of all, these bullies’ hearts are transformed by this tragedy. That Samantha would be comforted, remain strong, and in memory of her good friend, continue to be a caring soul to the outcast, not taking any shit on her own behalf and that of the young girls and boys around her. Finally, please pray that Cheryl could forgive her verbal attackers from her youth, and that she finds peace in her forgiveness allowing her to help guide her daughter through this difficult time. And finally, pray for the family of this dear young gal who lost her life, much too early.
Never ignore the calling to stand up for someone. By ignoring bullying, we are just as responsible for it as the individuals who are actually doing the bullying. As mentioned in an entry long ago, I once didn't stand up for a neighbor boy who had two gay male parents and was bullied a lot. I feel, and am, just as responsible for not standing up for him. Today, myself often an "under dog", I try to intervene any chance I get, and show God's love through me, to everyone equally, the bully and the bullied alike. As the old country song states, If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for Anything! So true. . .