In January I wrote a diary entitled, "Just Say Her Name".  I was asked by many Kos readers to write more about my daughter Kelly.  It was a single car accident that took her life over six years ago. But the truth is, it wasn't that simple. Actually it was a long and messy course that brought her to that night.  I am attempting to introduce Kelly through a series of diaries, clustering events in her life that stole my daughter bit by bit.
Follow if you wish beyond the orange curly cue.  

Maybe it was being bullied that stole my daughter, my Kelly.  She never liked large groups always receding towards the back.  Never 'knowing' how to push herself to the front.  Never 'knowing' how to be seen.  Always the teachers pet because of her gentle nature and love of learning.  Played soccer for four years but found she'd rather chase butterflies not a ball. Joined 4H involving herself in a variety of projects that she enjoyed and a club where she could feel, well, safe.  Loved riding her horse.  Always finding solace in that relationship.   In middle school not only was she still excluded but now bullied or was it harassment?  She was in band and the boy next to her relentlessly made fun on her.  Sometimes he just moved her chair away as she began to sit.  I asked her to seek help from her teachers. Not wanting to draw attention to herself, she refused until it became overwhelming.  Suspension and an apology letter from the boy and his parents followed.  I was hoping to prepare her for what lies ahead. I didn't. The year of THE middle school trip, the right of passage, arrangements began early in the year.  What was essential for most of the kids was room assignments. Four to a room. Her best friend bolted on her at the last minute. Leaving Kelly to be assigned with girls she did not know.  And feeling she did not belong.  Not wanted. Feeling so ashamed.  I pulled her from the trip.

In high school Kelly found friendships fleeting.  Always troubled that the commitment she had towards a friend was not reciprocated.  Trying to fit in she joined the girls' golf team.  I still have a sympathy card from a cross town rival which says, 'Kelly always had a kind and encouraging word for me.' Not exactly our society's response to the competition. By her senior year even as an honor student she was vulnerable to the promises of drugs. (See Stolen Daughter part 1.)  

With a scholarship to the University of Arizona Kelly started summer school.  Vowing to return to her love and her strength, education and the classroom.  Although, she still struggled with anorexia (be skinny...all the girls will envy you).  She found the rhythm of academics again. Free from the cliques she began to not soar but levitate.  With the fall semester she was assigned to an all girls' dormitory.  My request.  Unknown to both of us many of the girls on her floor had arranged to be together.  Creating once again a gang, a clique.  With her flower girl style and warm demeanor she was met with cold shoulders. Two girls to each room; each floor, two bathrooms.  

It was early on, week two?, she opened the door to a girl she recognized who had knocked demanding, "Clean your hair from the drain in my shower!" In defending herself Kelly asked how she knew it was her hair and BTW if she wanted her own shower, go home.  Verbal tensions. I'm guessing it was 10 days before I was able to pry from Kelly that something had gone terribly wrong. The next day she was returning home.

It had been the long Labor Day weekend and Kelly and friends drove to San Diego.  One car and very little money between them. They slept on the beach and played in the water.  My children sleep hard.  Hard as in a smoke alarm does not rouse them.  While sleeping in her dorm room after returning they cut her hair off.  To the scalp.  During the day with her door unlocked and her roommate gone they came in and cut her hair between her scalp and the rubber band which held her ponytail.  While packing up her room, I still remember seeing the long strands of hair on the floor that had escaped during the assault.  Is that being bullied or is it harassment? Physicians required that Kelly withdraw from school.  Her head had to be shaved.  A wig chosen. I asked for an investigation.  The powers that be, brushed it aside.  Oh too bad, so sad....  I wanted to pursue it further, Kelly just wanted to retreat to the back. Disappear.  Today the charges would have had some teeth. It was a nightmare, still is.

That spring she transferred to a small private college.  Maybe 10 to a class. Kelly excelled in her studies, always loving to learn. One of her professors wrote a tribute to her in the college's newspaper where she had been an editor.  "Kelly was the only person in this paper's memory who could finish up the Sunday NY Times crossword puzzle before the end of class and still take a set of coherent set of class notes." The last two years of her life she kept grasping to pull herself out from her evolving diseases, bi-polar coupled with alcoholism. Was it the bullying that bit by bit stole my daughter, my Kelly?

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