Home > Book (Nonfiction) > Memoir > Up from the Dark: An epileptic girl's Struggle for her academics and voice > Chapter 2
Up from the Dark: An epileptic girl's Struggle for her academics and voice
grade 1September 2003. I started first grade. The second year of a kids life in elementary school. I also started to go to a new school. Filled with new hopes and dreams for all kids. For teachers as well. In my mind I had lists and lists of things I hoped that would change in first grade. Mostly I hoped that the bullying would stop. I also hoped that my grades would improve in flying colors. Those things sadly didn't work for me. I was also looking forward to a brain surgery that would help control my seizures at the end of the year.
Two things didn't improve that year 1. The bullying and 2. My grades. Great lessons were thought to me that year. I made a few supportive friends that year. Sadly lost contact with all of them. Those friends that I made over the ten months I lost contact with them. Many others of those other people would sit there and just laugh at me. I couldn't handle the bullying. Again I started to hate school and I wanted to go to school less and less.
When I failed a test I would lugubriously give it to my dad and not care what I got. If it was below 75% who cares? I would always think. Failing was beside the point of my early life. I still had seizures and school and was helped by my class. My teacher Ms. Brennan was very kind. She was a woman with black hair and beach sand colored skin. She was always at my aid when a seizure would strike. I remember that I actually helped a boy with asthma during recess when he had a asthma attack on the play ground. Someone stayed their as I darted for the door to get Mrs. Brennan. She came out
and then a hall monitor got the nurse.
I felt great helping the kid. As usual I sat on the playground bench alone as everyone else giggled at me or were oblivious to their surroundings as they played on the playground. I'd sigh and
say. “Wow they are so lucky to have a “Normal” life. I would sometimes cry to myself of how lucky others were. I was still young and I didn't understand that no one has a normal life. Not even the greatest basketball player in the entire universe. I started to get and new hobby than just dreaming, playing my cello, reading and writing poetry. I started to get engaged into Brain Twisters.
I loved to solve hard puzzles when I could. It would relax my mind from what happened during the day. I would go from being tensed up Rachel to being relaxed Rachel. As time grew on I started to do things like the Rubiks cube, Sudoku, kukarou, crosswords, Jigsaws, and many other different puzzling things. In a matter of fact all of the things I liked to do got my mind of things. I also loved going outside and doing absolutely nothing. To me it was fun. Just hearing nature making sound filling in my ears.
As I dreaded first grade with great pain of stress because of bullying. I did something remarkable that I thought I wouldn't be able to do. Now I speak a foreign language. Russian. I loved to sing in Russian. In fact I just liked to sing. When there were auditions I sang a song in Russian. All of the student went crazy when I finished. So they all agreed that I should sing it at the talent show. What should have I done? Ignore it? Of coarse not! So I sang it for the talent show.
Suddenly the whole audience stated to clap their hands following the beat of the song. Obviously they didn't know what the words meant except for my mom and dad. And my little sister Ariel. Ariel than was just a little shrimp two years old. After I finished the whole song to the end. I couldn't believe my eyes. I opened them so wide, I actually thought that my eyes would pop out from my sockets. There had to be some five hundred people there and one thousand eyes staring at me. Standing up and applauding me. I got a standing ovation.
This was the first one of my life! I didn't even get one on my cello concerts when my mom would take me to play with three other violins. So we built a small quartet I was the only cello player and the youngest of the three. Yet I felt special because I was the only one who was first when they were all in fourth. And I was the only cello player. Even when I played in those concerts. I would never get a standing ovation from the audiences. Yet, being with older kids made me feel happy. I still brought my cello to school to play for my first grade classmates. Even the kids in my class didn't play an instrument. I had to be the only kid in my class that played an instrument.
As kids stared at me with amazement I ignored them and just continued with my playing. I loved the deep hollow sound of my cello. As the bow rubbed against the vibrating string creating a sound of beauty. By the end I would finish a piece kids would clap and I would always tell them. “Music is just part of me. It's what I like to do.” With practice and practice. Frustration and frustration, I started to hear progress. So did the rest of my family. .
First grade was fun to some people. Bad to others. Or into the middle. For me it was the middle. Some days were memorable days. Others were sad dismal days. Not so fun at all. I would always stare at the clock hoping that school would be over within three seconds. The clock would tick three times
and “Ring!!!!!!!!” The bell would ring. Time went slower and slower the more I watched the clock. So I would just daze of. There was an embarrassing moment. Something from first grade that I still remember. This wasn't a funny moment at all. We were doing a math test and I started to seize. Some one told me that the whole class started to laugh thinking it's so funny.
Getting tired of being humiliated by the entire class I asked Mrs. Brennan if I could tell the class about seizures and what we epileptics go through. Without hesitation Mrs. Brennan have a nod. I talked to them and their eyes lit up from my story. I explained step by step of what happens to us. This was is mid April. So it was to late to let them know. I should have thought about it earlier during December. Lesson 1 always plan ahead. Practically brain storm your ideas before it is to late to do so.
There eyes widened and I think that light poured into their hand giving them a clue that bullying is not the best way of treating a person with disabilities. They all must of realized that a disabled person has a different way of thinking about things. Just than I felt like I accomplished something. The best part about first grade was the “Good luck for your surgery” party. It was the last and final day of the 2003-2004 school year. We all came in with t-shirts and shorts awaiting for a fun summer with pools and ice cream. As for me, I would spend two weeks in the hospital awaiting a visit to the surgery room.
My first grade class made me a small good luck party. I entered the room. It was pitch black. I was a little curious. So I opened the door...Turned on the lights. Suddenly without any signs of notice one big fat “Surprise!” I was so surprised to see what was done for me. There was a huge banner with first grade handwriting saying good luck Rachel. And twenty three hand prints creating a border around the banner. At my desk, and all desks were phone books. We each wrote down our name and number, and some last words for that person.
Most of them wrote that they wish I wouldn't have seizures so I wouldn't have to go through a surgery. It was so sweet of them writing those heartfelt messages to me. Sadly I lost that book. As I left the building and thinking about all those messages I found that there are people who understood who I actually was. That I am not that alien from a different planet. As I left I was going back to the school I was in Kindergarten. A teacher came in teaching me a very important lesson.