By Sue Pearson
Trudy cootie. That’s what they called her, the group of bullies in my sixth-grade class. She was just twelve years old, thin as a waif, shy as could be. She wore what we called coke-bottle eyeglasses, thick and odd-looking, especially on a child. That made her look different from the others in our class. She never spoke up for herself, but she bravely showed up each day of school. And each day, the taunting continued. “Trudy cootie, Trudy cootie.” “Don’t dare touch her or you’ll have cooties all over!”
The bullies were unrelenting on the playground. “Stay away from her! Trudy cootie smells.” And they would hold their noses and point at poor Trudy. She was never chosen to play a group game, but left for last when team captains made their selections. “Aw, you’re stuck with Trudy cootie,” they would say when Trudy stood there alone, the last one to join a team. Trudy’s eyes were often downcast, but I never saw her cry.
You would think the teacher would have intervened. She never did, even though the mistreatment happened both on the playground and in the classroom. I cringed every time they called Trudy names. But I never stood up for her. I knew the bullying was very wrong, but still, I remained silent. I don’t know why. Perhaps I was afraid the bullies would turn on me.
Many times during the sixty-plus years since I knew Trudy, I have reflected on this failing of mine and always with regret and a measure of shame.
Now all these years later, a miracle has been delivered. Here’s how it unfolded: A dear Course in Miracles friend sent me a message on Facebook. She said, “This is you,” and below was a lovely drawing of a sweet young girl with flowers in her hair and all around. When I clicked on the picture, sentences rolled out, animated over the image. They read:
“She was BEAUTIFUL. But not like those girls in the magazines. She was beautiful for the way she thought. She was beautiful for the sparkle in her eyes when she talked about something she loved. She was beautiful for her ability to make other people smile even if she was sad. No, she wasn’t beautiful for something as temporary as her looks. She was beautiful deep down to her soul. She is beautiful. – Scott Fitzgerald
And the sentences continued:
“Every woman deserves to be reminded of this simple message…that she’s beautiful for who she is, not just her looks. That she’s special to you in her own way. A few words can change someone’s whole day, please pass this on to the beautiful women in your life. You know who they are…Thank you!”
Tears welled up when this lovely animation ended. I thought of my dear friend and felt such love for her and gratitude that she would send me this tender message. I glanced over to the left of my messenger screen and saw a new entry just above my friend’s. It was from Trudy! When I saw her name, my shame and regret came back all at once. I thought after these many years she had found me on Facebook to finally tell me what a schmuck I had been in sixth grade. But instead, the message read, “Hi. It’s Trudy. We went to elementary school together. I have always remembered your kindness.” WHAT? Did she say KINDNESS? Yes, she said she remembered my kindness…her entire life.
I sat there and cried. I had not remembered kindness, but she had. Trudy healed me with this one message. I looked at the date it was sent. It was sent a year ago. I had not seen it until this very moment my ACIM friend delivered her heartfelt message… “She is beautiful.” Suddenly I knew how to make this healing complete. I wrote back to Trudy and told her how sorry I was to have not stood up for her when the bullies delivered their hateful taunts. I asked for her forgiveness and sent her the animated video my ACIM friend had sent to me, remembering the invitation to share it. “A few words can change someone’s whole day. Please pass this on to the beautiful women in your life.”
What if a few words can change not just a whole day but a whole life! Trudy changed mine instantly. Maybe now she can feel the love she always deserved. It’s never too late.
“Miracles honor a person because he is lovable.” (T-I.33.1:1)
“With everyone whom you release from guilt, great is the joy in Heaven, where the witnesses to your fatherhood rejoice.” (T-13.X.6:9)