Recently, I had the opportunity to see Linda, a friend who grew up next door to me in Long Island. It had been many years since we'd seen each other and there was so much to catch up on. We started to speak about other people that had grown up on our block and I mentioned a girl named Debbie (her name has been changed for this post). Linda immediately responded that Debbie was so mean and she had been bullied by her in high school. And then she proceeded to share with me the following story.
In 1978, when Linda was 14-years-old, she and her friend Mary wrote a Valentine's Day card to Barry Manilow. On the way to the bus stop she accidentally dropped the card. Debbie snatched it up, opened it and then read it to the entire bus on the way to school. Everyone laughed at Linda and Mary for their sweet wishes to Barry. They tried to stick up for themselves but to no avail. Linda and Mary cried and felt terribly humiliated. Linda's pain that day was so deep that she could barely catch her breath. After school Linda and Mary ran home from the bus stop as fast as they could and decided all they could do was write Barry Manilow a letter and tell him about the terrible events that had taken place. A few weeks later, this is what Linda received in the mail:
Linda and Mary's hearts sang the day they received his letter. He acknowledged their painful experience and showed he cared, and he gave them free tickets to his next New York concert. In fact, they were tickets for four front row seats right next to Barry Manilow's mother!
I asked Linda if Barry's letter had made her feel stronger against Debbie and other bullies at school. Linda responded, "Barry's letter gave me an inner strength, but I don't think I was mature enough to manifest it outwardly for many years. Eventually though, Barry's letter plus his music was the platform for my transformation into the strong person I am today."
In fact, Linda held on to her love for Barry's music quietly over the years until with Facebook she was able to transform her love for Barry's music into a new world of friendships and experiences. She has made so many friends that share her passion and meets many of them at his concerts. It is one of the most cherished and enjoyable parts of her life. She has met Barry several times in person and says he continues to be the most genuine, nicest and talented man she has ever met.
After reflecting more on the experience so many years later, Linda feels a bit softer towards Debbie and more forgiving. During our last correspondence Linda wrote, "There's a quote of Barry's that goes...'you give in, you give out but you never give up.' I love it and live it!"
In that terrible moment on the bus so many years ago, Linda had no idea that her anguish would lead to one of the most rewarding parts of her life. This is a beautiful reminder for all of us, and a lesson that we can teach our children: No matter how painful an experience is in the moment, things will always change and MAYBE lead us somewhere special. It gives us all hope that the lives we desire can still be waiting for us at DAYBREAK!
A big shout-out to Barry Manilow for being such a kind and dear person to a 14-year-old girl who really needed some love and support!