My Sister, My Hero

My Sister, My Hero

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Be The Best You Can Be

My Sister, My Hero

You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

The first full choir rehearsal of the school year took place in the school auditorium. Each grade had been practicing the songs separately, but this was the first time all the grades joined together to sing. My sister was a year older than I was and I watched as her grade filed in and took their places next to us on the stage.

Off to my right and in back of me I could hear giggling. As I turned my head around to see what was going on, I saw older boys and girls pointing down at a girl a few rows below them. I’d never seen this girl before but a couple of kids away from this girl stood my sister. She turned and glared at the group that was now openly making fun of this girl, saying things like “diaper” and “pee your pants” at her.

The teachers were too busy discussing the order of the songs to notice the commotion. Finally, the rehearsal started. After each song, the teachers would discuss any problems and while they did that, the little group of bullies were pointing, laughing, and talking just loud enough so that the girl, whoever she was, could hear what they were saying. One of the girls in my class whispered in my ear, “Did you know she’s wearing diapers?”

At home that evening, I asked my sister about the girl I’d seen. She said that her name was Theresa and that she was a very nice girl.

“Why were those kids being mean to her?” I asked.

“Because they’re jerks, that’s why,” she snapped, turning and stomping out the door.

The scene was the same at each choir rehearsal but as time went on more kids joined in teasing poor Theresa.

The day before the program, I was walking home from school when I heard voices behind me. The closer they got, the more I realized they were talking about me.

“There’s little idiot’s sister — you know, the one who loves pee-pee pants. Does your sister pee her pants too?”

I walked a little faster and then I felt a pebble hit me in the back. “Knock it off, you jerk!” I stuttered in the bravest voice I could find. By this time I was almost running.

“I’ll bet you pee your panties too, don’t you?”

Just then, one of the neighbors came out of her house and I took off running for mine. When I got home I ran down to my sister’s room and knocked on her door.

Jannelle opened her door and I pushed my way into her room, screaming at her. “Why do you have to stick up for that girl, Janelle? Now I’m being bullied because of you. Why do you have to be her friend? I don’t see anyone else being nice to her.”

Janelle yelled back, “Because she’s a wonderful person and she’s dying!”

I will remember those words for as long as I live. Theresa wet her pants because she had an illness, an illness that was killing her. My sister was the only one nice enough to be her friend and stick up for her.

The choir program was great and since there were parents in the audience it was the one time that no one tortured Theresa. When the program ended, I watched as she introduced my sister to her parents. Theresa’s mother had tears in her eyes as she hugged my sister. Smiling, Janelle turned around and gave Theresa a big hug. I noticed a lot of looks coming from some of the bullies but this time instead of being embarrassed I felt proud that Janelle was my sister. A few months later, Theresa passed away.

On that night, so very long ago, my sister became my hero. Throughout the years I watched her, always making friends with everyone. It didn’t matter if they were fat, thin, brilliant, not so brilliant, shy, or loud, she never left anyone feeling isolated or alone. We never talked about Theresa or the night I was mad at her for being Theresa’s friend. All I know is because of that night, something inside me changed and I never looked at anyone in the same way again.

~Jill Burns

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