True Colours...I knew this girl once at school, and she used to get a load of grief from other people who we went to school with. She was quiet, unassuming, kind of blended into the background. The only time she got attention was when people put her down.....telling her she was ugly, fat, all the well thought out and intelligent insults you would expect from a bunch of teenagers. She would smile at them and walk away, infuriating them further and so it would continue. I sat next to her in maths, and she used to chat on and off so I got to know her a little. She was sweet and friendly, but just seemed really shy.
One day the tormenting went beyond that of name calling. She appeared at school with a black eye and a split lip. Some moron in our class proudly making a claim on it saying they had taught her a lesson for ignoring them when they tried to speak to her. Still she just smiled and shrugged it off. I couldn't help but wonder where she got the inner strength to smile at someone who had beaten her up. I still can't figure it out to this day. I tried to talk to her about it in one class, but she said it was fine, she was ok.
So anyway, one day...I walked home with her. She was heading out the same way as me to visit her Gran and I said I would walk with her to keep her company. She said she was looking forward to school the next day- we had a sports competition, and she was competing. As we rounded the corner, the girl who had beaten her up was getting hassle- from a group of bigger and nastier people. Looking at her in that situation was a huge shock. The girl I was with, calmly put her stuff down, walked into the group and started talking. She stood in front of the other girl, protecting her from them. I got out my phone to call the police, then ran over to help her. They left quickly, but not before they had given her a couple of jabs for interfering. Once they had gone, she got up, helped up the other girl, gave her a hug and told her it would be ok.
Turns out, rather than being bullied by the other girl, she had been hurt trying to protect her. And even though the other girl couldn't admit it, she continued to protect her on the way home from school every single day. But the other girl didn't want to lose face in front of her 'friends' at school.
Her inner strength, kindness and bravery in the face of a nasty situation shone through....one of the most beautiful people I ever had the good fortune to meet. Protecting someone who constantly puts you down, helping someone out for no personal gain, and continuing to do so regardless of the fact she was treated so badly....I wish I had that sort of strength.
She died a few weeks later...nobody knew she had been battling cancer for the best part of a year. We had a memorial at school and a bunch of people went, the ones who never recognised her for the person she truly was. The ones that just felt guilty for the way they treated her and needed to negate their guilt in some way.
She was one of the most amazing people I have ever met and I think of her often. I wish more people had that kind of beauty.