Although it may seem a bit odd to some, my name was decided purely by who in my family had died. In Jewish tradition, children are named after relatives who have passed away in order to keep their memory alive. I’m positive I was not named Rachel because of what my name means. In Hebrew, my name means ‘ewe.’ I don’t think that being called a female sheep every time someone says my name was my parents’ intent. My first name comes from my mom’s great-aunt Rae. Her real name was Rachel, and she was married into the family. She was the wife of my great-grandmother’s brother, and although she wasn’t related by blood, she held a very special place in the hearts of my mom’s family. My mom fondly remembers her being an extremely sweet and caring person, and one who would talk to you all day if she was given the chance. One of my mom’s memorable stories is when Aunt Rae would call to say hi. After she hung up the phone, she would always call back a minute or so later to say something she had forgotten. At times, this happened two or three times. My grandparents were very close to her, as were my mom and her sisters. Aunt Rae had one son who didn’t have any children, so there was no one to remember her by. When my parents had me, they knew that I needed to be named after this wonderful woman who was so special to so many people. I feel the responsibility to be like her. Maybe not how she acted, but I wish to be as important to people as she was. To me, Rachel doesn’t mean ewe. It means happiness, friendliness, and love. I hope that everyone hears these words when they think of me, and I will be remembered with a smile after we go our separate ways.
When I think of an attribute of my mom, the first thing that comes to mind is her eyes. Her eyes are always squinted, almost as if they aren’t open to the smile spreading wildly across her face. At times, the smile affects her so much that tears come rolling down from her eyes. They become glossy, and at that time, the brilliant green normally hidden from the world shines through. Those eyes offer a safe haven from stress, but at the same time fill with worry at the site of anyone she loves that may be hurting. Her raindrop tears run down from her eyes; caused by the wild emotions resulting from an emotional movie or a death of a loved one. Those eyes are always there for me when I need them most, and I know that I can count on them...forever.
People change. Although many learn this early on, it took me until eighth grade to truly realize it. This story takes place in fourth grade. As a fourth-grader, when someone insults you, it really hurts. A fourth-grader does not have the maturity to shrug off in insult. No, any insults just pour into them and begin the cycle of self-consciousness. Now that we have that determined, I’ll tell you why this is relevant. My life has been pretty good, and I am very fortunate for that. So when the endless speakers came to our school to talk about bullying, I didn’t pay much attention, figuring it couldn’t possibly happen to me. But then our bus schedules changed.
One of my oldest and closest friends was on the bus with me, and since she lived on the same street (still does, as a matter of fact, and is still a good friend), I was thrilled that our bus change didn’t separate us. But what the new bus schedule did do was bring on some new kids. Unknown to me, one of these kids would bully me. Now, when I talk about bullying, it wasn’t the physical ‘give me your lunch money or I’ll beat you up’ that you might be imagining. No, this was more of a quiet bully that inserted insults into conversations where at times you thought she was fooling around, and then later realized.
My friend, who was nice to everyone, had invited this new girl on our bus to sit with us. This new girl was not new to the school, but had just newly arrived on our bus. I had actually been friends with her in kindergarten, but like many elementary friendships, it quickly faded out as soon as we arrived in different classrooms at the start of first grade. So, because I had known her, I figured that her sitting with us would be fine.
I had a very different personality from her, but I was positive that we would be able to rekindle the kindergarten friendship. Guess what?...it didn’t work. We were too different, and when I didn’t laugh at a joke or a story, while my friend did, she began to call me a ‘Dully’. Now, I look back on this and crack up every time I think about it, because it may be the dumbest insult known to man, but I took it very seriously in fourth grade. It really hurt me to hear someone call me this, because I was basically being told that I wasn’t funny at all, and nobody wanted me around.
My friend stood up for me at times, when it was the worst, but eventually she began to feel the effects after I began ignoring my bully. So the endless talks about what to do when you’re bullied really do pay off. As I actually learned the other day, my friend and this other girl got into a fight one time over something very insignificant, and this girl called my friend a ‘Guava’. While this seems like another dumb insult that my friend and I still laugh at, again, it felt much worse in fourth grade.
Luckily for us, the bus schedule changed again and deposited this girl to the doors of another bus where another unlucky person might end up suffering the same fate. She was not in my classes at the time, and I quickly forgot that she was even in the school. I forgot about the bullying, and didn’t realize the person in my seventh grade classes was her until attendance was called. By this time, I had made several and dropped several friendships. In seventh grade, I met my best friend, who still fills that role today. But I didn’t realize that along with her came another girl...my ex-bully. I was very wary of giving her a chance, because of what had happened the last time. After talking to a few friends about the situation, I decided to give her another chance.
As seventh grade passed and eighth grade started, and I was beginning to warm up to this girl who had clearly changed. Though at times she would hip-check me into the walls and make fun of me, she did it as a friend, not as a bully. I could always tell she was teasing me, and the physical violence was just who she was. My best friend, her, and I became very close in eighth grade, and even closer in ninth. Today, she is one of my closest friends, and although she may still shove me into the walls and joke about pushing me out the classroom windows, she has truly changed. This story taught me many things about friendships, but what it taught me most is that people change, and you have to give everyone a second chance, or even a third chance until you can rule them out as a friend.