|Jenna Saadati. Spring 2012. Age 13.
Once Upon a Time
Once upon a not-too-long-ago time, there lived a beautiful girl. I wish you could have known her, because she was all kinds of wonderful—intelligent and funny, talented and kind, curious and well-liked, the type of person most of us want to be around. She was part of a family of five. She was happy, she loved God and life, she believed she belonged.
Until seventh grade. That year, something changed. It happened at a new school, where some bullying took place. She stood up for those being bullied by confronting a group of too-cool classmates with her words. It worked; the bullying stopped. But then the group turned on her.
To outsiders, the group’s snide comments, unwillingness to include, and we’ll-put-you-in-your-place attitude might not have seemed like much. The girl kept smiling. After all, she thought, I have other friends who care, a family that loves me, things I do well. She laughed off the drama, turned it into a story, and wrote down the tale. But inside it hurt. Did she really fit in? Did she really belong? In her thirteen-year-old mind, she was no longer sure.
Halfway through eighth grade, a strange shift occurred. The group seemed to accept her and want her around. Then with ninth grade came high school—a new school, a new start. Everything seemed fine—until one late-September day. While partnering on a project in a biology course, a classmate from her former school spoke horrible words: “My group thought you were ugly. We thought you were stupid. We were never really your friends. Our acceptance of you was only pretend.”
When she arrived home that evening, she cried for a long time. She told her mom . . . and her dad. Then she called a close friend. Afterwards, she pulled herself together and said not to worry. She thought she'd be okay.
The only problem? Her classmate’s words had cut to her core. She began to replay seventh and eighth grade through a different lens and came to a wrong conclusion: in her mind, she no longer belonged.
Inside she believed the lies that shouted inside her head:
- · I’m a loser.
- · I’m too unattractive and unpopular to ever fit in.
- · I’m a burden.
- · I can’t hold on.
- · Maybe I’ve already fulfilled my reason for being here.
- · No one will miss me when I’m gone.
As a result, depression set in. She didn’t want to trouble those she loved, so she hid the deep sadness. She silently bore all the hurt.
Three months later, desperate to ease her pain, she made a secret decision. She picked a day. She wrote the note. And one night not long after Christmas, without telling anyone or saying goodbye, she stopped her breath. She ended her life.
It wasn’t the right choice. Not for her. And not for everyone who loved her. Her absence has left a huge hole—a place no one else can fill.
The truth is she was loved and needed.
Her life was worth much.
This shouldn’t be a once-upon-a-time story. She should be here—today—with all of us.
|December 2007. Komron, Jenna, Josh, Beth, and Christa Saadati.
|June 2014. First family photo taken without Jenna.