In the whirlwind of life, I get consumed by the day-to-day activities and the event of the moment. On any given day my family has something going on that is above and beyond the normal. I know so many families who are in the same boat.
I saw a television commercial the other day that showed a couple who recently retired. The focal point was about finding a good financial investment company to manage your retirement savings. I only heard the part about the couple no longer having set schedules. Their time was now their own. I think I started salivating and had to wipe my drool.
Eight years ago when Phyllis Greenbaum hired me to write my column for The View I told her I thought retirement with my husband sounded fun. The look on her face told me that perhaps I was thinking of retirement a wee bit too early. I know a young retired couple who doesn't know what day of the week it is because "every day is Friday" to them. That sounds like fun stuff to me.
As I write this we are dealing with a broken air conditioner. My father-in-law died and my hubby Johnny is making final arrangements for his dad. We also lost a vent cover 30 feet up on our house and a family of birds chewed their way through the mesh and are now happily living in the tubing that leads to the powder room. I hear them every morning; they are noisy neighbors. And although our plate is plenty full, our dog is showing definite signs of aging as she approaches her 12th birthday.
Yesterday I learned of something that was so disturbing I stopped in my tracks. I learned that a lovely, young 15-year old Howard County girl took her own life because of bullying. That puts everything — everything — into perspective. The air conditioner will be replaced; the handyman will remove the birds and fix the vent. My father-in-law lived to 88 years old and was fortunate enough to be able to retire at the young age of 55. He lived a long and seemingly happy life. My beloved dog is showing obvious signs of aging, but we are taking her to the vet. We will help her with her health issues.
All of these items are fixable. The death of a child is not. This young woman did not get an illness that she could not overcome. She was so filled with sadness and worthlessness that she could not get past her own grief. This situation is overwhelmingly sad.
As a mother I am deeply moved. I am also angry that bullying continues.
No, I am furious.
As a child, my family moved fairly frequently until my parents landed in Virginia. We typically moved in the middle of the school year and I was always forced to leave behind best friends and endure being the new kid until I could make new ones. When we moved to Virginia, I was in the fifth grade. For some reason, there were five girls who decided to bully me. It was a horrible experience and something I have not forgotten. The bullying went on for months. I never considered suicide and I cannot imagine how this young girl felt. I only know how I felt.
When I was an undergraduate student at Virginia Tech, one of my sorority sisters committed suicide. She was beautiful, maintained honor roll grades and had a nice boyfriend. She was always smiling and appeared happy. Her mental pain and anguish were completely hidden from all of us. Her decision to take her own life was devastating and surreal. I think about her from time-to-time and wish I had known about her sadness. Perhaps I could have helped her. Monday morning quarterbacking is always such an easy job. I think about what her life could be like now had she worked through her pain.
If I had to go through that bullying to end up exactly where I am now — surrounded by people I love and who love me — I would do it again. Being bullied showed me, very clearly, how not to treat another human being. It also showed me that regardless of who is in my life, I ultimately have myself to lean on. We are never really alone.
I write my column in an attempt to entertain you. My hope is that you will chuckle, or belly-laugh out loud. Sometimes I write in the hopes to make you ponder something or help you to realize that you are not alone; I've shared some personal life moments with you over the years.
If you are being bullied, know that you are not alone. Know that the adults you tell will try to help you, but you must dig deep inside yourself and know you have incredible worth. You wouldn't be here if you didn't.
If you are bullying someone, stop. You are making a terrible choice and this horrific energy you are displaying into the universe will come back tenfold.
Why can't we all just be nice to each other? Why can't we just accept each other as we are?