Hayley and Me
by Minha Khan
“Hey, I don’t know you but I just wanted to thank you for saving my life today.”
I was in the middle of writing the 31st chapter of my story when this unexpected message turned up in my inbox. Even though I was sure that this message wasn’t meant for me, my heart stopped. There was no way that I – a high-schooler – could ever save anyone’s life; especially a person who I didn’t even know. I replied to the message saying that I was pretty sure that she had sent this message to the wrong person and added a smiley face at the end of the sentence so that she wouldn’t feel awkward. Seconds later, I received another message from the same girl. She told me that the message really was meant for me and that I – a nobody – had actually saved her life.
The same girl who messaged me is now one of my best friends. Her name is Hayley, and she is one of the most beautiful people I know, both inside and out. And this is the story of how she changed my life, and I hers.
Since around September 2012, I started posting stories online. Every single story that I have posted revolves around subjects such as bullying, anorexia, bulimia, self-harm and depression. These were subjects close to my heart; and since I have never been very vocal about what I feel, I write. At the end of each chapter I posted, I wrote a little end note. I added pictures and wrote a little about my day, nothing major. One day, after having a miserable day at school, I decided to rant in my end notes. I complained and complained and complained. But once I let all the steam out, I realized that I had just had a bad day, not a bad life. I deleted my whole rant and began typing once again. This time, I wrote about the things in life that I appreciated. Just before I clicked the ‘post’ button, I added a couple of inspirational quotes. It was one of the best decisions of my life.
Hayley later explained to me that on her way back from school one day, she came across my blog. Being a victim of bullying herself, she had just had one of the worst days of her life. Anorexic since grade 4, she was teased over and over again about her weight. Not a day went by when she didn’t come home with her cheeks stained with tears. All she wanted to do was end the pain. After having smoothies dumped over her head at school, she promised herself that this was the last day she was going to put herself through this torture. Life wasn’t worth living anymore. No one cared.
I’ve never believed in miracles before this day. But when Hayley told me that my end notes were the reason she held on and walked another step down the broken road called life, well, my perspective on life itself changed. The last two words in my end notes were: “I care” and I had given a link to my Twitter underneath, asking my readers to tell me their stories. And that was all she needed, someone to hear her out. Someone who cared.
After that day, it became a part of my routine to talk to her daily. Due to the large time difference, we only had a couple of hours in between where both of us were online. But we didn’t let that get in the way. Every night, before I slept, I would send Hayley a message telling her to have a great day at school and promising her that pain ends, and things really do get better. And every morning, I’d receive a similar message, telling me that the bullies were only trying to hide their own insecurities by highlighting hers and that she knew she would make it through this.
We became each other’s support and held our heads up high. Together, although physically miles apart, we would get through this.
I was in Pakistan on spring break when Hayley messaged me early one morning.
“The best thing ever just happened. I need to tell you, now!”
I immediately left what I was doing and messaged her back, ecstatic that the tables had finally turned. She sent me paragraphs over paragraphs, describing her day in detail.
One of her classmates had recorded the incident of the bullies throwing smoothies on her and uploaded it to youtube. And lo and behold, one of the teachers came across it. Hayley was called to the principal’s office and asked about the incident. Tears filled her principal’s eyes as Hayley’s cries for help were finally heard, her story finally told.
She was given the chance to stand in front of the school and share her story. She was interviewed for the local newspaper. Some bullies were expelled, others suspended. She had become a symbol of anti-bullying and strength for her whole town. Hayley was not only an inspiration to me, but to all the other kids who woke up each morning with fear in their hearts of the cruel words that awaited them. She had won.
Hayley continues to tell me that I was the one who saved her, that without my end notes, she would have never gotten where she was today. But I truly believed that it was the other way around. Although I repeatedly said it, I never really believed that pain did end. I never believed that things could get better. I never believed in the word hope. She proved me wrong.
Whether I saved her life or she saved mine, I didn’t care. All I knew was that if things could get better for her, they could get better for me too. And they will get better, if only I hold on and make the most of every situation.
And just like Hayley said in her interview, you don’t know my story and I don’t know yours. But I do know that this life is worth living and that someone somewhere does care. Always.
Hopelessness is a disease put within our hearts when we stop believing that there is something more to life than what it seems to be at face value. The hopeless will never strive to be more; never try to reach their full potential. And for this very reason we need to constantly remind ourselves that there’s so much more to life than all the fun and games. And even though we’re not immortal, the impact we have on the world is. Like Allah says in the Qur’an: “Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope.” We will never be faced with anything we cannot beat. We’ve been given far more potential than we can even imagine. And along the way, Allah will provide for us companions and friends to pick us up when we fall down and help us find our way when we’re lost in confusion.
You are never alone.
You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think and pain truly doesn’t last forever.
About the Author
Minha Khan is 15 years old and is a sophomore in high school. She has lived in three different continents in numerous different cities. She was born in Greenville, South Caroline and currently lives in Saudia Arabia where she hopes to finish high school. Her favorite subjects are English, geography, and economics. She hopes to be a part-time writer and full-time social worker when she grows up, in hopes to make the world a better place one step at a time.
(Attention, writers! Muslim Kids Matter is a regular feature at Muslim Matters. New articles for kids are posted every other Sunday. You’re welcome to send in your entries to firstname.lastname@example.org.)