Monday, July 01, 2013

Chris Eldin, friend

Word came today, almost a year after the fact, that my pal Chris Eldin ended her life.  She and I were pals the same way a lot of you are my pals. She read my blog, participated in contests, and was generally one of the regulars.

She lived near Baltimore and once when I was headed to Charm City for a couple days we met and went to the art museum there for a morning and then had lunch together.  We hit it off and had a great time.

But sadly, blog readers can come and go. Life demands attention, circumstances change. I hadn't heard from Chris in a while but the funny thing was, I'd thought about her and our day at the art museum quite recently.

This morning I looked back through my cache of email to see when I'd last talked to her, and it had been a while.  She'd also included me in an email she sent to her friends just after her birthday three years ago:

I am in such a good place in my life, right now, and your friendships have helped get me there. All the little things that are said and done matter. They add up.

Your friendship is the cathedral I turn to.






I profoundly regret the darkness became too much for her.  I know there were people in her life who loved her and wanted to help her. Certainly her friends would have. I would have.

Now all that's left to say is that she is remembered, and missed.

To quote the also-greatly-missed Jane Kenyon's poem Happiness:

[Happiness] comes to the wineglass, weary of holding wine.






43 comments:

Nathan Bransford said...

Ah man, incredibly sad to hear that.

The Magic Violinist said...

My stomach is twisting and turning just reading this. Suicide is a terrible, awful, dreadful thing and should never happen. To feel so terrible that you'd want to end your life? Things must be really bad. I wish people knew how to cope with it better so it wouldn't happen so often.

Hugs to everyone who knew Chris. This has to be hard for her family and friends.

Sarah Hina said...

She was a gem.

I'm glad you had the chance to meet her.

donnaeverhart.com said...

That was like your intuition...the fact you thought of her. We always know we'd help, and sadly, sometimes it's not wanted.

I've known three people who've committed suicide. Two co-workers I was very close to, one I'd spent hours with out on the town, the other worked for me...and she came to see me just before it happened, and last and the closest of all, my brother in law, who just couldn't find happiness except in pills and liquor.

I'm very sorry and the fact you've talked about her here, shows she meant something to you. They all do.

Sandra Cormier said...

When bright lights like Chris are with us, we enjoy their warmth. When they go missing, we wonder where they went. When we discover they were snuffed out, we wish we'd been there to keep the flame going.

J.D. Schewlakow said...

May her memory live on in a place she can not. Sorry for your loss.

Wendy aka Quillfeather said...

Depression is a terrible thing. Sorry to hear about, Chris. Tragic.

sari said...

I'm sorry.

nightsmusic said...

I did not know her, but I'm so very sorry for your loss. Any life lost too soon depletes the lives of those who knew them.

Michael Seese said...

There are no words, other than, I'm sorry for your loss.

Josin L. McQuein said...

It's never easy to hear, or understand, the circumstances of someone passing by their own hand. And sadly, sometimes, it's not easy for the person who needs help to hear or understand that the hands reaching toward them are there to help.

I'm sorry to hear you lost your friend, and sorry for her family, and very truly sorry for Chris.

M. G. Tarquini said...

Oh no. We used to correspond. Oh my goodness. She was a lovely lady. Truly lovely. I am so sorry for her friends and family.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

You thought of her and then you learned of her death. It's like a message in a memory.

Terri Lynn Coop said...

A FB friend of mine also wrote about her loss today. This is part of what he posted:

"I have no words. No excuse not on my behalf or the hordes of other online friends Chris left. But I hope that if any of my other friends, whether they be people I see face to face, or merely talk to via social media feel this kind of desperation that they will reach out. Ask for help. There are people who care. Probably far more than you realize."

Wise words. I am coming up on the first anniversary of the greatest loss of my life. I vividly remember my best friend online with me that horrifying day, keeping me together, staying with me, watching over me, and bringing me through it even though she was 600 miles away.

Never be afraid to reach out. The thread is there. Grab it and hold on.

Take care Chris and to all that knew her, even if only through cyberspace.

Terri

Sarah Laurenson said...

Chris was an amazing friend and so giving to others. Thank you for this memory of her.

My wife and I had dinner with her when she came to L.A. She was as warm, caring, funny and gracious in person as she was online. Very true to herself.

french sojourn said...

I read the post and was awed by your thoughtful words and sad news. Sorry for the loss.

Sometimes that little bird called hope is slowly overwhelmed.

Shona Snowden said...

She was such a lovely person who brought many of us together with her initiatives and thoughtfulness. Thank you for your tribute.

BonnieShaljean said...

Oh Janet, I'm so sorry to hear this. I know what a horrifying shock it can be to everyone left behind, whether they were standing far or near.

Hang onto that cathedral. You helped build it. It's a good place for you to be too.

Gary Corby said...

Damn. I corresponded with her too, usually on the most bizarre subjects. She had so many friends.


k.kellie edwards said...

In times like this, memories seem to unfold like a sad sweet dream.

I'm very sorry for your loss.

Donna L Martin said...

From someone who stood on that dark path many years ago and almost chose to end my own life, I can relate to the hard decision your friend thought she needed to make.

The chance to save her is past, but you can always honor her time here with your words and memories.

I'm sorry for your loss.

Sincerely,

Donna L Martin
www.donnalmartin.com

Spencer and Kimberly said...

Sorry for your loss. That's terrible, especially for the fact that it was an entire year later. I hope you have some good memories to remember her by.

Peter Dudley said...

Terribly missed.

Unknown said...

Oh, God. This is terrible news.

I remember Chris well. I only knew her online, but we'd corresponded a few times as well; she was such a sweetheart, always doing something for others. Always trying to show them how much they were appreciated.

I feel sick that I don't think I ever said that to her, or told her how much I appreciated seeing her "around."

Joanne De Simone said...

I'm new to leaving comments. I'm so touched by this post and the responses. So often I think we are left with the feeling that words just aren't enough. I'm not sure anyone can understand the weight another person carries, unless they carry it themselves. But I think anyone here strives to put a spotlight on the human experience and all that is universal....even when it doesn't seem universal at all. So I think one of the best things we can do, is to keep on sharing, and reassuring each other.

I wish peace to all who are mourning...

Rachel Schieffelbein said...

I'm so sorry to hear this.

Elissa M said...

I have been to that abyss. It's not a pretty place. You can't see anything but darkness. It doesn't matter if you have one friend or a thousand, you're blinded to their presence (or you believe yourself invisible to them). People who have never been there can't understand how it feels.

It's hard not to think there must be something "wrong" with you, that you're somehow flawed because you can't just "snap out of it." This, of course, only sinks you farther into the mire.

Though I was able to overcome my depression without professional help, I'm convinced the disease is caused by a chemical imbalance. In many cases, medical intervention is the only thing that could help.

My former college roommate and also a very dear friend of mine each killed themselves. It's hard not to think, "If only I had..." But the truth is, love and friendship are rarely enough to stop this scourge. That doesn't mean one shouldn't try to reach out to a friend in need. Just don't blame yourself if caring about someone turns out not to be enough.

The world is always a poorer place after such a loss. All we can do is strive to always be kind and to keep on reaching out no matter what.

Mary Witzl said...

Chris gave me a lot of positive (and more importantly, badly-needed negative feedback), and she did it well. She was incredibly generous with her time and talents, and a fine writer. I just wish I'd tried to keep in touch.

Mike said...

If only people could look into a crystal ball and see how much they mean to others before choosing this path. My condolences.

BonnieShaljean said...


On the subject of depression, I'm sure a lot of you will have seen this stunning blog already, but if not, please take the time to read it. Then take time afterwards to just sit quietly and think.

Because I happened across it first, I read Part Two followed by Part One - but Part One is easily found, being the previous entry (apart from a short linking piece). Note the dates. They're a year and a half apart.

Part 1 - Adventures In Depression (Late 2011)

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.ie/2011/10/adventures-in-depression.htmlc

Part 2 - Depression Part Two (recently)

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.ie/

BonnieShaljean said...

Sorry, that first link is faulty - there should be no "C" at the end, just the usual .html

BonnieShaljean said...

Sigh. And the second link should no doubt be .com for normal human beings, and not .ie, where I live.

Nato said...

I'm truly sorry about your friend.

A.J. Cattapan said...

I am so sorry for your loss. I will keep you, her, and all those who will miss her in my prayers.

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon her.

elizabethmarianaranjo said...

I'm so sorry.

LynnRodz said...

I agree with Elissa, "People who have never been there can't understand...." My best friend committed suicide years ago. To look at her you would have thought she had everything to live for. She was beautiful, smart, had a great job, a sweet boyfriend who loved her, etc.

Her second attempt ended in failure like her first. When I went to see her at the hospital, I could see how sad and disappointed she was to find herself still part of this world. (It truly broke my heart.) She had once again taken an overdose of sleeping pills. She told me she had thought about jumping into the Seine, but when she looked at it, it was too dirty.

I asked her, "Why? You have everything to live for. I can understand if you were sick and in pain and suffering from some illness, but you're not."

She looked at me and said, "Lynn, I am sick and in pain. It's not a physical suffering, it's a mental suffering that is far worse." I didn't understand clinical depression at the time.

On her third attempt, she succeeded. Like Chris - they're gone, but not forgotten.

Brenda Buchanan said...

Such sad news. I'm terribly sorry to hear it. Thank you for your (as ever) sensitive post about her death.

Rusholme Ruffian said...

Incredibly sad. I just read some of her postings over on Evil E's blog and she seemed a gifted writer and had much to offer in her what she wrote.

www.roughwighting.net said...

So so sorry - that she couldn't find help, that life was so hard, that writing didn't help. Very sad.

KayC said...

When you have a sense of purpose and self-worth it is hard to imagine being in a place where they don't exist. All we can do is treasure the memories and hope they have found a better place.

FoolPlusTime said...

I've made a number of false starts on this comment because, to be honest, I don't know what I want to say.

I have my mother on suicide watch, for the last four weeks and for as many more weeks as it takes. She is disabled and I have become her sole carer. In my area, the only out-of-hours medical help is the foreign locum GPs. The good thing is I'm not totally under equipped for the situation - I've been there, done that, vomited charcoal over the t-shirt - but it's still hard and part of me doesn't want to post this, but more of me knows how much I value when other people speak about what they are going through.

If somebody you know is suicidal: listen. Don't tell them things. As I say, I've been there. I didn't care how great people thought I was, or how much they thought I had to live for, or how upset they were to know I was upset (I'd link to hyperbole and a half if somebody hadn't already done it.) I wanted to be able to talk and most of the time I couldn't because they'd be upset, or they'd be busy, or they weren't interested, or - and this is a big one - I felt I was making a big fuss about nothing and I needed to just suck it up and get on with it the way everybody else in the world managed to.

If you want to help somebody, listen. Make the time. Do it for as long as it takes. Ask them how they feel. If something has happened, find out how they feel about it. Reassure them that it's okay to feel however they feel (because it is). Be honest with them - even if you disagree, they feel how they feel and that's okay.

If somebody you know hints they are suicidal (and watch for phrases like "I wish I didn't exist", "I just want to disappear", "I wish I'd never been born") then ask them if they are considering suicide. Ask them if they have a plan, if they know when they are going to do it. They may not be able to say the word out loud, but you can. If they say they are, or they do, then tell them it's okay, and get them to some help. Go with them if they need you to. Call 999/911 if you have to.

I didn't know Chris Eldin, but my condolences go out to all the people here who did. I am so sorry for your loss - it sounds like she was loved.

Depressive illnesses thieve perspective. Nothing good exists. Simple tasks are epic missions. Careless mistakes are evidence of worthlessness. Mostly though, there's nothing. Everything is nothing. The main reason I didn't succeed with my suicide attempts was because I couldn't even muster the enthusiasm to acquire enough tablets - but I didn't really care because that was nothing too.

Stay safe, and hugs to everybody going through anything at all right now.

Elissa M said...

@FoolPlusTime

You said it much better than I. Well done.

Deb Vlock said...

Janet, I wish I had seen this the day you posted it. So busy keeping my own safe and in the world of the living I have not had much time for reading blogs, even yours. So very sad, and I am so sorry. Love!265