This I Believe

Rachel - Sierra Vista, Arizona
Entered on June 12, 2007

I believe the smallest things in life mean the most.

I can’t tell you what I got for my birthday last year or what I got for Christmas. Presents don’t mean anything to me. They’re just a symbol of a love that is promised and have little thought put into them. I’ve received many things in my life and I’ve seen just as many marvels but nothing compares to what my coach gave me.

When I was around the age of five my parents signed me up for the Ponytail Softball League. I don’t remember anything from that year but that’s not important. What is important is that I met a woman, my coach, who would teach me more about life than anyone else I had encountered.

As I got older I continued to play softball with the same coach. She had daughters around the same age as my sister and I so it guaranteed us a spot on her team. One year she started up a traveling softball team. I was too young to actually play on the team but I was awarded the position of bat girl. My mom would drive me up to the games in Tucson to watch the girls play and I would execute my duty proudly. My self esteem had been boosted and I felt overly special to be helping out.

I think I was around the age of eleven when most of the girls on my team had started developing crushes on boys. To me it was silly and I didn’t want to take part in it. My coach’s daughter, who was also my best friend and my cousin, associated the term ‘lesbian’ with me. I remember crying so hard that night and the next morning. When I was growing up ‘lesbian’ had been such a derogatory word. I got up the nerve to call my coach and she came over and sat with me on the porch. She told me that I shouldn’t worry what they think about me because they were jealous. It was such a small conversation but it massive effects on me as a person.

I was fifteen when she passed away. Her older daughter and I were still best friends and for that year and a half that my coach had suffered we stuck together. I remember one incident in particular. My coach had this security camera installed because someone had broken into their house and there was a microphone built into it. One day I was heading home and I stopped on the driveway. My coach told her to sing the hokey pokey and my best friend laughed. She started singing and I began dancing.

The year that followed her death was hard. Everything began to fall apart and my life as I had known it was gone. Her family had changed me from the inside out. They filled my life with little things; little conversations, little inside jokes, a little bit of everything.