Wednesday, October 24, 2012


There was a girl in my high school class who was not at all popular. Awkward, overweight, and physically unattractive. She was too often the butt of jokes and derision, particularly from the girls in the popular clique. To make matters worse for her, her father was a teacher at the school who was kind of an older, only slightly less awkward version of her. One day the girl had a brain aneurysm in the middle of class right in front of everyone. In a flash of scraping desk chairs and a flurry of loose-leaf paper that brought her one last volley of negative looks, she fell dead to the tiled floor.

The next day we had a school assembly, called by the principal, to help the healing process of the entire student body. I remember sitting in the gymnasium bleachers a couple of rows below the huddle of the popular girls. This same group who had been the leaders in deriding the dead girl and talking down to her and making her feel like crap on a regular basis, was sitting there just crying and sobbing. Tears of mascara streaking uninhibited down their young faces.

I wondered at the time what was going on in their hearts. Was it just an outpouring of emotion where emotion was called for? Did they regret their behavior? Were they aching with guilt and shame? Did they just mourn the loss of a young life, taken well before its time? Did they feel even a small amount of the agony of the girl's family?