Posted by: Kevin | February 1, 2007

The Best I Can Do is Remember

Natalia at her site has shared an ugly and tragic story of what can happen when childhood goes horribly wrong.  It was a must read for me, and got me thinking of someone I knew growing up.  Unlike young Natalia, young me didn’t show compassion when confronted by the social outcast. 

He was the smelly kid in class.  It was always noticible, the scent of unwashed armpits.  He didn’t do very well at schoolwork either, not terrible, just not good.  On top of that, he was socially ackward.  Long story short, this kid didn’t have any friends.  The only thing he could do well was sports.  Yet we hardly ever let him play with us.  I didn’t make fun of him any more than the other kids, but I did make fun and I was never friendly to him. 

I didn’t keep track of his life after 6th grade school.  Even though I went to the same middle school, it was large enough that he ceased to be on my radar screen.  That was it, I helped make his life miserable and then moved on to bigger and better things.  I went to high school, and then college, and then my first job, etc.  But what happened to him?

It turns out he killed himself not long after he graduated high school.  And I’m still not sure how I feel about this.  Certainly, others tormented him far more than I.  But never once did I ask myself why he was the way he was.  I know now that no one chooses to go to school reeking, that someone was asleep at the switch in his home life.  Why couldn’t I have just had a glimmer of this insight as a child?  Would it have mattered?  What would it have taken to save his life?  Could it have been something as simple as a fellow 6th grader taking a few minutes to actually talk to him?


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