I READ A LOT. News. Books. Obituaries. And sometimes something touches me in a way that makes me want to cry at the cruelty of humanity. That happened this week when I read a tribute on an online obituary for a 45-year-old Faribault-born man.
I didn’t know Allen. I have no idea why he died. But he clearly was loved.
Yet, life wasn’t always easy for him, as his friend Rachel notes in her comment. She remembers the times they hung out on her front porch as teens “talking about nothing at all and everything.” I love the wordage of that remembrance. But then Rachel continues. “He always has (d) a smile and a kind word for everyone even though he was made fun (of) as much as I was.”
In that singular sentence, my heart simply broke. I know Rachel, enough to believe her truth. I admire her for writing that truth, not only about herself, but about the friend she says she will always miss.
Why were people mean to Allen and Rachel? And to me? I, too, was picked on as a child and pre-teen, sometimes even as an adult. Decades later the memories of those hurtful words still sting. Rachel’s comment reveals the same.
Yet, despite the teasing, Allen maintained a positive attitude with his always smile and kind words. That says something for his resilience, his ability to overcome, at least outwardly. He had a good friend in Rachel.
As I reflect on this, I follow the lead of these two friends. If you’ve endured meanness, I think you can go two ways—become just like the bullies or choose to be kind and empathetic. Allen, Rachel and I chose kindness. My compassion for those who are picked on/bullied/teased/made fun of, whether as children or adults, runs deep. In this moment of reading Rachel’s thoughts about Allen, my heart simultaneously breaks and swells with gratitude for these two friends who talked about nothing at all and everything.
© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling