Friday, March 25, 2011

My friend Melanie

I saw her walking across the playground by the ball field all by herself.

My friend Melanie.

Melanie: the one who befriended the girl who no one else would talk to. So now no one talked to her.

Including me.

Even though....

. . . we had laughed together at each other's houses. Even though we'd been to each other's birthday parties, worked on school projects together, and even talked about God into the wee hours of the morning. We had shared our hearts.

Even though she was my friend. I ignored her.

We had met in the third grade when a mutual friend introduced us. My friend found Melanie on the playground because she beat up the boys. Melanie came to our rescue. I don't remember any bruises or anything. I think it was mostly that she was tall and unafraid. But either way, after that, the boys left us alone.

The following year, Melanie & I were in the same class. Everyone in the class had fun together. We were all friends that year. Fourth grade was a wonderful year.

But that was the fourth grade and this was the sixth grade. Things had changed. Different rules applied.

Melanie talked to the girl. You know the one. The one no one talked to. Not only did Melanie talk to her, she sat by her at lunch. She befriended her. Therefore, sixth grade rules applied. You talk to her, no one talks to you.

So, no one talked to Melanie, including me.

I missed her. But I wanted more than one friend. I wanted us all to be friends. Honestly, I didn't even know if I liked the girl we weren't suppose to like or not. I just knew I didn't want to be shunned. So I didn't talk to her or to Melanie. Even though I wanted to.

Instead, I hung out with the cool people.

Until that day: the one where I noticed Melanie walking around the playground all by herself.

Now, I wish it could be said that I had noticed her all by herself for a good reason. Even the girl that she had befriended didn't appreciate her and had run off to hang with someone else. And Melanie was alone. I would like to say that is why I noticed her.

But it wasn't.

It was because it was my turn that day to be shunned.

That day the cool people decided it was my turn. No one was to talk to me. At first, I was wondering if it was happening. We were in class after all. But once we were all at lunch and recess, it was quite obvious that no one was talking to me.

I pestered Lynn again and again and again. "What did I do?" I was quite bothered that I had done something wrong. Finally, Lynn told me, "You didn't do anything wrong. We just wanted to see what you would do if everyone ignored you."


I walked away.

That's when I saw Melanie across the playground, walking all by herself in the empty baseball diamond.

The one who stood by the girl when no one else did.

The one who welcomed the new girls to school even when the new girls didn't keep being her friend.

The one who laughed with me.

The one who shared secrets with each other and no one else.

The one who introduced me to the sacred truth.

She was alone. And I now I knew this truth, too: One true friend is way better than a whole crowd of cool people. That I knew.

What I didn't know was if I had lost my chance to be friends with Melanie. I didn't deserve to be her friend. I had ignored her for weeks. I had hurt her. I was ashamed.

Nevertheless, I walked up to her across the playground. I don't remember what words I used or if I ever asked to be forgiven. But I do know that she walked back across the playground with me that day. And I felt forgiven.

We were both smiling.

That time wasn't the only bump in the road of our friendship. There were other times we hurt one another. But never intentionally again.

Me & My friend Melanie, last summer (yes the image is a little fuzzy).
When I can scan an old photo of us I'll come back and edit to have a then & now photo.

She has been a true friend to this very day. My friend Melanie. The friend I have had the longest.

One true friend was better than the cool crowd. I'm glad I learned that lesson in the sixth grade.

* * * *

How about you? Do you have life lessons that you learned in the sixth grade? Have you had a true friend like Melanie in your life? What have you learned about friendship through the years?

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  1. Oh how lovely to have a true are so true friend is worth more than all the 'acquantances' that you meet in this life. Thanks for stopping by and for your comment.

  2. Wow, Kathleen, what a transparent story. You have such a special friendship in her, and you are so very lucky. There's something about 6th grade. . .even though I have moved 1/2 dozen times since then those friends are still in my life (if only on FB, we still keep up!) Thank you helping me to stop and think and pray for *my* true friends today! Thanks for visiting. . .always good to check in with what it going on in your part of the state :)

  3. What a precious story! And how sweet that you are still friends. I am still friends with my best friend from 6th grade. In fact, we were best friends since 2nd grade. More than 2,000 miles separate us now, but we still keep in touch and keep up with one another.

  4. You learned something that not all children learn. I'm sure you had been taught about love and forgiveness before that moment but in that moment you got to actually experience it. I believe those who have been given love will figure out how to give it also.

  5. "One true friend is way better than a whole crowd of cool people." Amen to that.

    I glad you have that friendship.

  6. That's such an inspirational story, and fits so well with what I've learned about Rachel Scott, who I blogged about for this week. (Thanks for visiting me.) I think it's great that you two are still friends.

  7. What a wonderful story, you are so fortunate to have had such a good friend for so long!

  8. What a story of heartbreak and redemption. It reminds me of the Woman at the Well and the Prodigal Son all at the same time.

  9. Wow - what a great post, that many can relate to. I've been the shunned one (all through grade five ... what fun) and while never in the "popular" group, I found my own gang and we stuck together through high school.

    It all reminds me of what will come for my own children - the emotions, challenges, etc.

    Thanks for commenting on my blog, and for you kind thoughts about my recent challenges! So far things are improving, albeit slowly :)

    Enjoy your Sunday, and have a great week!

  10. It made me happy to read this. I was the shunned one for 8 years. I would stand up for the ones who got picked on, but never for myself. I almost got killed at school by younger kids showing off by picking on me. Finally I started to stand up for myself a little and I started to get some friends in 6th grade and I am still friend with one of them.
    Today I have forgiven those who bullied me and I am facebook friend with many of them. They have all grown up to become very nice people thank goodness.
    Thank you for visiting me at my blog.

  11. I'm so sorry for the ones who were shunned, especially for years. I have often remembered this scenario as such a picture of a great friend. I didn't think about the view of those that would read this who were the shunned ones.

    After Melanie & I hung out again, I recall that the class was more a cohesive whole like it had been in the fourth grade. The lines were less distinctly drawn.

    Thanks for all who have visited and commented.

  12. I lovvvvvvve this post. you did a grat job of wording I love you BEY


Thanks for being part of the conversation...I love hearing from you. Kathleen

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