It was graduation day, my freshman year of high school. The choir was required to sing at the graduation ceremony; a night I had been dreading since the beginning of the school year. My close friend Holly was one of six valedictorians of the senior class.
While she was delivering her speech, something hit me. It struck me like a bolt of lightning; I realized what a great friend Holly had been. I zoned out. My thoughts drifted back to choir tour earlier that year, and what she'd done for me then.
I was really upset one night, and crying harder than I can ever remember crying before. The red tone of my face matched the hideous fire-engine red color of my choir robe. I'd always considered myself 'just a typical teenage girl' with your average array of problems. After all, we all have our issues in life. However, tonight's problem was different. Tonight's problem was much more serious.
My life had taken a downfall; my heart, body, and mind went along with it. I'd become so wrapped up in other people's opinions of myself I began neglecting my own completely.
I never thought I was pretty enough, or smart enough. I always seemed to be a second behind everyone else. That one second was too much time. I just kept trying to change for other people, each time failing. There was always someone left unsatisfied - me.
I didn't know who I was. My grades suffered, and I'd lost friendships that were valuable. There were times I just completely forgot my own hopes and dreams, putting them aside to change the way I was, just to make the people happy. I felt I had to live up to their expectations of me.
I gave up activities I loved, and took up those I hated because I felt it was an obligation for me to fulfill. That April night, I decided to finally do something about it. I was too unhappy with myself, and the only solution I could think of was to end my life. After all, I was on choir tour, supposedly one of the best times I'd ever have in high school.
No one was expecting it either. I was this little private school kid, who's a singer, and involved with sports and drama; an angel in my parent's eyes. There never was any room for me to mess up. I was becoming a complete perfectionist, and hated it! Sure, a lot of things that night that triggered my final decision, but I felt I was ready. I would go through with it after the concert that night.
Casually, I said my "goodbyes" to friends. I was crying, so I had to make up excuses for my tears such as "Oh, I'm feeling sick", or "I'm really nervous". But then, I thought of the one person it would be hardest to say goodbye to; Holly. I went searching for her, trying to stay calm.
Down the hall sat Holly and our friend Kati. Seeing how upset I was, Kati must have found it best to leave, because she did. She got up, and left me alone to talk with Holly.
I had calmed down a bit, so I started walking over to Holly to get it over with. My walking turned to running. I ran to Holly; my crying worsened. I fell down to the ground next to her chair, laid my head in her lap and cried.
Neither of us spoke for a while, but my crying got harder and harder. I became virtually hysterical. Silently, Holly began petting my head and playing with my short hair, (her own special comforting touch), and I looked up at her. My tear-stained face probably didn't look too great, but I still looked up. This was one of the few times my appearance didn't matter to me; I knew Holly wouldn't judge.
I looked up to see Holly's comforting smile. She had a concerned look on her face, but didn't really show any worry. I looked at her for a while, crying still, and she didn't say anything. She just continued petting my head and staring off at the wall, thinking. She quietly cleared her throat, and then she finally spoke. She told me that everything would be all right, and I would get through it. She said no matter what it was, she and God were always there.
Then she jokingly mentioned I had to get through it, because I had to sing in twenty minutes. That made me smile.
I don't remember telling Holly that I was going to end my life that night, but I think she might have known. I just remember her wrapping her arms around me, letting me cry in her lap for as long as I needed to. I remember that life-saving hug she gave me, just before we stood up to go sing. She then stood up and reached her hands downward to help me up. I got up off the floor, still crying, but now they were just small, silent tears.
Holly hugged me again, but this time in a much more rough manor… in more of a "don't-you-dare-even-think-about-it-again-missy" sort of way, as if she knew I knew she was aware that she helped me out somehow that night. I just wonder if she knows what that somehow is?
Did she know her little blonde freshman friend wanted to end her life? Or was she just comforting a crying friend? Either way, she'll never be able to fathom the impact she had on my life, and what it meant to me. No one will.
Although, I do inform nearly everyone that "Holly is my hero…," next year, Holly won't be in the school hallways between classes. She won't be on choir tour; she'll be out of state away at college. It won't be the same without her. Her arms won't always be there for me to run into anymore.
I know now, there is always someone I can turn to when she can't be there, and that there is someone I will never have to change for.
--- Kristin M., Age 15 --- Michigan