How my changing feelings about a dead teenager reveal the start of compassion. When I was a child my achievement level ranged from successful to not-as-successful. After taking a test in second grade I was placed in “giftef and talented” and never again had class with “regular” kids. All I knew was judgment, competition. I had never experienced failure and looked down upon losers, as I had been taught by a system that lists students from best to worse in “class rank.” In high school I was watching 60 Minutes and the story of Becky B. was shown. She had died bc her state’s law required minors to obtain written parental consent for abortions. For reasons we can never know, she was afraid to do so. She sought an underground solution from someone of dubious qualifications in a non medical setting. She died from the resulting infection. Guilty and heartbroken, her parents were campaigning to do away with the parental consent requirement.
Do you know what I thought, then. With all of the hatred I felt for women who didn’t want their babies, the way I imagined I hadn’t been wanted, I thought “she got what she deserved.” She was a bad person who compounded her bad deeds with worse deeds and, well, what can a person expect? We all know the wages of sin. I cringe as I remember saying those words, none of them originating with me. Yet i thought I waz the author of my mentality which is pretty funny. Or would be if it weren’t so sad.
Today, I have known failure. I know I done have to hate a hapless teen who died trying to live. Sometimes we don’t do our best. Sometimes we try our best and our best sucks. Before addiction, I would have asked, rhetorically, how could she do that? I would not have waited for the answer because I would have thought I had the answer. Today is a better day inside of my mind. Today’s mind is a curious one, one that asks “How could you?” And actually waits for the answer.