Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Autumn's Reminder

It's about this time every year that I think of him.  The changing hues of autumn brings the memory up to my consciousness. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. The crisp air fills my lungs and my attention gets diverted to all the magic of fall around me. This time of year marks the anniversary. It's 46 years this fall and so I honor a sweet, tender-hearted boy who impacted my life as no other has.

It's the anniversary of two 12-year olds. Two 12-year olds - each of who finds a different way to escape the torment and humiliation of bullying.  I chose to walk the two miles home from school everyday instead of getting on the afternoon school bus.  A few weeks later, Danny made a different choice.

I have no recollection of Danny and I ever conversing. He wasn't even a classmate. Usually, I would be on the bus first and through the dirty, smudged windows my eyes would follow him as he trudged his way carrying his heavy load of books onto the bus. Selfishly, I would think, "Oh, good, I'm glad Danny is here today". That meant the brutality would be shared. Danny would sit on the opposite side of the bus isle with his head down, as did I. It was self-preservation not to have eye contact with anyone. But, I do remember the one time our eyes and souls met.  It's a moment in time etched on the tablet of my heart. For a brief moment, with our eyes locked, each of us in unspoken anguish, pleaded with each other for help. But, we were helpless. So, we turned our eyes away and endured.

From the time I began walking home from school that fall, I never saw Danny again. I never even thought much about him.  I was just glad the torture for me on the afternoon bus was over. Now, I only had to contend with the morning bus ride.  A few weeks later, I came into school and found out twelve-year old Danny committed suicide. I was horrified and scared. In my own 12-year old mind, I was a coward - I never fought back; I left Danny alone to take the brunt of our peer's anger and sadistic pleasures when I started walking home; I was a coward when the school was a buzz with gossip about why Danny would do such a thing - I still didn't speak up; and I was scared that I may do the same thing. I grieved in silence and anguish for a very long time and became more and more introverted by my secret, guilt, selfishness, and shame.

Secrets are to torment, what truth is to freedom. Truth will set you free, secrets will torment you.  I was finally set free from the agony of the secret about 30 years later.  Joe and I were high school youth pastors.  Jesus cradled me with courage as I told my concealed story to our teens.  As the secret was expelled from my lips, Jesus began His healing process. The teens gathered compassionately around me and prayed while I dissolved in tears. I knew that I knew I was forgiven and that God had just used our story as a powerful life-lesson to our teens. There were cleansing tears and sobs all around the room. Hopefully, life changing for some - whether they be abuser or victim.  For all those years, I envied Danny because he was free. On that fall Sunday morning with our youth group, I was finally free. And I could feel that soul-bond with Danny once again.  This time as victors rather than victims.

Danny and I are both champions of anti-bullying.   May God, once again, use our story...

Because of Him and Unto Him,
This post is linked up to Tell Me A Story


Jamie @ Six Bricks High said...

Wow! what a story. Yes - the truth will set you free. Thanks for sharing your story here.

Diane Ronzino said...

Thanks, Jamie, for coming by, reading, and taking the time to comment. God is good and His Truth has set me free!

Andrew Ronzino said...

Wow, Mom! I never knew this story! Thank you for sharing it. Wow. Would you mind if I quoted this on my blog?

Diane Ronzino said...

Things you don't know about your mother...LOL...thanks for reading and getting to know me better! It would be an honor if you quoted it. I love you.

Martha Herden said...

Such an amazing story-filled with Pain that two young children suffered through. My heart broke when I saw Danny had left this world. I pray he is one of God's very Special Angels in Heaven.

This was a moving story and bless your courage for sharing it with all of us. God is using you in amazing ways.


Diane Ronzino said...

Thank you, Martha, for your kind, encouraging words. In this day and age, anti-bullying is so in the media with stories like Danny's. It breaks my heart over and over again. Hopefully, our story will help the abuser or the abused.

Lolita said...

Diane, I am retracing down your post, when time allows.

This is so powerful and I am learning about some moments you were experiencing in the past. Was it that real about bullying in the US? Who are the usual targets? Are they the immigrants? How about now, is it still in schools?

I could just imagine what you and Danny had to endure as teens. Bless His soul.

Diane Ronzino said...

Lolita, I apologize to you for not answering your questions. Some how your comment slipped by me.

Bullying in the US is like an epidemic here in 2012. Children, tormenting and physically beating up on other chldren resulting in more and more suicides.

At the time it happened to me, I thought Danny and I were the only ones. Targets are usually those considered "weak". But, today, they target anyone for any reason, including immigrants. It is horrific what goes on in our schools and school buses today!

Everytime I hear another story, my heart aches so badly that it's as if it were going to come out of my body. That was the reason I made this post. Another story aired on the news. Most of them, like ours, never hit the news.

A Joyful Noise said...

Thank you Diane for sharing this powerful story with us at Tell Me a True Story. As a young child you were powerless to prevent the bullying, but your deliverance and freedom gave your group of teens a new outlook on being sensitive to the feelings of others. As they prayed for you, I could feel their genuine love and empathy for you.

Diane Ronzino said...

I'm so glad you saw that in this piece, Hazel. It was a special moment for me and I trust for them as well. I hope they never forgot that moment and can talk to their own children about it.

Thanks for reading!