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Tear Stained Jersey
I’ve always been teased for being such a tom-boy and for my loyal love to the Washington Redskins. The worst teasing I’ve ever experienced is when my best friend pretended to sneeze on my brand new Sean Taylor jersey. I got so mad and ran to the bathroom to wash it off, just to find she was kidding. She came into the bathroom laughing so hard she could barely stand up. I looked at her shook my head at her, but I wasn’t mad. How could I ever be mad at her? She always found a way to make me smile. “You know, if you had actually gotten something on my jersey I probably would’ve punched you in the face.” She gave me a smirk, “No you wouldn’t.”
“Guess if you ever do you’ll find out, won’t you?”
She stuck her tongue out at me and we laughed. That was in eighth grade, now we’re in tenth.
Over the summer she told me about how much she hated her step-dad and she cried while I held her on my lap. I told her it was all going to be okay and that I would always be there for her. She looked up at me and I used my shirt to wipe the tears off of her face. Through a smile, she asked, “You’re my Superman, you know that?”
I fake coughed, “I think you mean Superwoman.”
“No, I mean Superman.” She giggled, I smiled. It was my favorite sound in the world.
“Geez… thanks.” I laughed and so did she. But then her face got real serious.
“What’s your kryptonite?”
I stared at her. “I… I don’t know.”
“I just want to be prepared. I mean… there’s got to be something that’s going to hurt you one day. Make you weaker.”
“Nah, I don’t think so. I’m better than Superman.”
“But… you’re always so strong and there for everyone. And no one’s ever there for you. I read a quote that made me think of you. ‘The girl that’s always trying to make everyone else happy and smile is usually the one that needs the most comforting.’”
“Well I don’t need any comforting. I do it because it’s what I’m good at. And it’s what I’m supposed to do. I feel like that’s my purpose, you know? To make people happy. To make their stay on earth a little bit more pleasurable.”
She snuggled into my shoulder. “To bad your not a guy, ‘cus you would make the best boyfriend ever.”
I think she fell asleep after that. I don’t know… I was in deep thought with her words running through my mind. “What’s your kryptonite?”
When we were in the ninth grade, my father died suddenly. The main thing I remember of the week following his death was that there wasn’t a second when she wasn’t there. Looking back, I remember that I missed a week of school, and so did she. She spent the night at my house every single night.
And she made me laugh and smile a million different times. At the funeral she held me tight while I cried. She held my hand when I stood at the coffin and stared at the body of my father and she cried with me. She never said it, but I know she had found my kryptonite.
In tenth grade, she found her true kryptonite. I used to think we told each other everything. But apparently, we didn’t. At a Homecoming festival she stormed past me crying. I quickly followed behind and overheard something that changed everything. She was arguing with one of our close friends.
“I tried calling you the night I tried to kill myself. But you didn’t answer! You say you’re my best friend, but you don’t act like it.”
I turned around and walked away. It felt like my heart was in my throat and my stomach had dropped. I shook my head and tears welled up in my eyes. I thought through the past few months, there had been no warning signs. No changes. Psychology was a joke. I scoffed at the month long course on teen suicide we had. That night I called her and she answered on the first ring.
“Hey. Is everything okay?”
“It’s just, I saw you crying at the festival…”
“What’s going on?? I heard you say you tried to kill yourself. Is it true?!”
“Can you please talk to me about it? Maybe I can help.”
“Okay. It’s just.. Um… I don’t know. There’s a big bruise on my arm and every time I get upset I push on it. But I don’t realize I’m doing it until a little while after and it hurts really bad. And sometimes I start digging my nails into my wrists.”
“Wait… so you don’t think about it? It just comes naturally?”
“Will you come talk to the youth pastor about it tomorrow?”
“I don’t know… I have a trust issue with adults.”
“Well if you don’t come with me to do it, I’m doing it by myself.”
“Fine. I’ll go with you.”
The next day we talked to our youth pastor about it. I sat next to her holding her hand. Not saying a word. She explained everything to him and he said he would get her the help she needed. While he prayed for her she put her head on my shoulder and I could feel the tears seeping through my Sean Taylor jersey. Once the prayer was over, he asked to speak to me privately.
“This is a wonderful thing you’ve done. And I’m praying that you are able to maintain and grow in your strength. You’re a wonderful friend.”
He glanced at my jersey. “I don’t think you’ll be able to re-store your jersey. It’s a shame, such a nice one too.”
I smiled at him. “I don’t mind. “
A year later and I still have my jersey, and my best friend, thank God. She got the help she needed and is now on medication to help with her depression. Today was the day of the big Redskins vs. Cowboys game, so I got in my closet to grab a jersey. I saw my favorite Sean Taylor one, and glanced at the shoulder. There were still dark spots in the burgundy material from her tears. I smiled and remember our conversation three years before.
“You know, if you had actually gotten anything on my jersey I would’ve punched you in the face.”
“No you wouldn’t.”
I smiled, once again, she was right. I had a kryptonite, and I would never hurt her. Physically or emotionally. And I would never let her hurt herself. I heard her walk in the front door.
“Honey! I’m home!!”
“Don’t you ever knock?” My mom laughed.
“Hey! You’re the one that gave me a key.”
She walked in and saw me looking at the jersey.
“Sorry about that.” She looked down at the floor.
I smiled. “No big deal.”
She looked up and smiled back at me. I pulled it out of the closet and slipped it on over my tank top. I smelled my shoulder.
“Ugh!! It smells like your snot!!”
She laughed hard. “And this is why I love you.” She said breathlessly.