This is a continuation of the entries to Kaitlyn’s facebook after she died by friends and some family.
I used to run track during my high school days…nothing crazy, not on a team or anything but just for fun. I know I’ll never be as quick as you, but I’ll be hitting the track at UNCW again pretty hard. I remember telling you at Easter when you were home that I was starting to get some track time in, and now I’m even more determined to do so. (by Stephanie her sister 4-17-13)
I dearly miss you. I keep remembering all the memories we have together. All the sleepovers we always had and the fun we had growing up. We had good and bad times but we were always there for each other. I can’t remember a day in my childhood that you are not in the memories since the first day i met you. You were much more than a friend but a sister and will always be a sister to me. You were always there for me growing up with my problems i had growing up. You were always a friend and dear to me. I miss you so much. I love you. (by Gail N. 4-17-13)
I found another photo of Kaitlyn Elkins — the only one I have from her visit in January. Before her last visit, K was worried that Michigan would be too cold. I sent her a photo of the first flowers of spring and me standing outside barefoot. It is so sad not to be able to share with her all the things she hoped to see here. (Shai 4-18-13)
I was listening to this song on my drive home tonight, and I thought of you. We used to absolutely love this band, and I have their ink permanently embedded into my skin. The title of this song is perfect for how I have been feeling, and I know that if you were still here, we’d be jamming to them just like we used to do at home.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVcfCHmoCvM (by Stephanie her sister 4-19-13)
I didn’t think I’d have the strength to run this race this weekend. On Friday, I realized I had to run it.
Usually, I’d text Kaitlyn my results after a race like this. She’d respond with how proud she was of me and how desperately she wanted to be as fast as me.
I thought of her the whole race, which is a ridiculous thing to say, because she was and is never far from my thoughts. When I realized how excited I was when I started, I cried. I miss sharing this with her. It’s just one thing among many that I will miss.
She wanted to qualify for the Boston Marathon, and I did too. Now, I must qualify. But, I must do it without her.
Tar Heel Ten Miler
10.07 mi • 1:08:43 • 6:50 min/mi • 8.8 mph • 568 ft (by Neal 4-20-13)
The excruciating agony and terrible shock of losing Kaitlyn has subsided somewhat for me. Still, it isn't really getting any easier. She is in so much of my life — I carried her in my heart for a long time, and every little spot of warmth and closeness I had, I tried to share with her. I truly believed that I gave her a sense of belonging she deeply craved and a sense of hope for the future. These now attack me as little bites of grief; I stand cooking and remember that she made me a similar dish; I build a swing set for my kids and remember that I wanted to share the warmth and joy of my back yard in the summer with her. All those moments and aspects of my life that I wanted to share more of with her are now open wounds, slow to heal.
Kaitlyn left me a letter. Despite myself, I re-read it often. It stares balefully at me from my table. Like a bone stuck in my throat — I can't pull it out and put it away, but I can't swallow the bitterness of her goodbye again either. In saying goodbye, as in life, Kaitlyn was all love and caring. The true tragedy is that she didn't seem to conceive of the notion that I might be able to help if she told me she was close to the edge. I'd like to think I could have — I would have moved mountains for her, if I only knew. From what I've seen of her other connections, I wasn't the only one. (from Shai 4-22-13)
Ah, how I miss our deep conversations of Nietzsche and Schrodinger's Cat. You were the only one I could ever have a conversation with in regards to both topics. I will always keep "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" on my shelf for you. (from Stephanie her sister)
Of course I miss you fiercely. Other feelings are ever-evolving. The sense of personal loss, the sadness for your family and friends, and the echo of your own terrible sadness you finally shared with us. Each is built on the shadows of the last, and each is fleeting as I struggle in turbulence seeking something solid to build tomorrow upon.
The panic and despair has mostly retreated to the silence. It now waits in those times I used to be most at peace and insightful; in a quiet moment over coffee, or under the rush of water as I bathe.
The overwhelming regret I felt/feel for not having foreseen or prevented this grew daily at first, escalating with each of your good friends and loved ones telling me how you respected me, valued me. Although there are still places inside me that I fear to look, and I still imagine specific ways I could have perhaps given you the strength you needed, with the help of those same beautiful and generous people that you kept so wisely, that sense of personal responsibility is finally easing. In its place, I'm left with still more questions. Confusion.
How could this possibly have come to pass? The world was yours! You blazed a trail everywhere you chose to tread. I and many others followed your fearless lead on many journeys, and we all struggled to keep pace.
You said that this would hurt me more than anything. But did you consider that I would gladly suffer this to keep you? You hoped I would forgive you, but I can't bear to think you might have believed I wouldn't. I'm not angry, never angry… just… lost.
I find that I can throw myself into work finally, and it masks the loss; But this safety also terrifies me, because even the terrible grief is something of you that I cherish. It still connects me to you, it keeps you close, and I fear to relinquish it.
My increased sensitivity to your amazing qualities emboldens me to strive to be more like you in many ways. I've already promised you that I would learn to seek out more amazing people to enrich and be enriched by, a talent of yours. But there are so many things I respect you for. I'm afraid to promise to do these things, because many of them, although I wish to attain, are such departures from my skills. I'll do what I can, but some of these things were uniquely you.
Somehow, you were always able to sit and write, eloquently and with no hesitation, the distilled, elegant, and uncompromising truth, with kindness in your heart. To compete with you required hours of reconsideration and revision. But you, you merely opened your soul to your pen and you were done.
You never hesitated or procrastinated, simply doing what seemed right immediately, unstoppable… and so I tended to envy your life experiences. This too I want to learn from you. I suppose we talked about this… but I wish you had known just how right you had gotten it.
While I'm hurt and diminished, you've also given me a new responsibility – to realize how much more I can be. I have to continue. Keeping your counsel helps me even now, but it saddens me too. I wonder, am I getting it right, Kaitlyn?
I'm still here, Kaitlyn (From Shannon 4-23-13)
When our parents would take us out to Dale's Seafood, they would always buy each of us peppermint patties. This one's for Kaitlyn Elkins. (by Stephanie her sister 4-25-13)
This morning when I logged into MyFitnessPal it says "kaitlynelkins9 has not logged in for 2 weeks. She might need some encouragement." Kaitlyn Elkins not a day goes by that I'm not reminded of your absence. — feeling sad. (by Lisa Soles 4-25-13)
Like David below, I only just saw this tonight, which mortifies me. I want to echo all the words that other people have left. And I'll add this: Even among all the wonderful qualities Kaitlyn had, she was so so so kind. It's wonderful that she was brilliant, athletic, ambitious, etc. But ultimately, what is more important than the way we treat others? And Kaitlyn was *ferociously* kind. The way she cared about other people and devoted her time and emotional energy to making others feel loved… wow… she's been a model for me in my own life. Rhonda, Stephanie, et al, I'm so sorry. (by Roman 4-26-13)
Today my chest feels constricted. It's not that I can't breathe, it's that my lungs feel like they've closed in around my heart.
I had a better day yesterday, when I spent some time thinking about happy times with you, which were some of the happiest of my life. We took a walk and saw a deer once. We went to the opera twice.
I spend time with friends, I go to work, and I don't sob uncontrollably anymore, but this constricted feeling is a constant reminder of how much I hurt and how much I've lost. I've been in a rush to see and talk to my friends and family for affirmation. I need them to know what I'm going through and give them a glimpse of what you meant to me.
When I'm alone with my thoughts and I think about what you meant to me, I think of you a different way every day. The words haven't come, and the words that do come sound inadequate and hackneyed. When I try to describe you and why you're important, I find myself frustrated that when I choose one way to start, whatever I say sounds either like a laundry list, or a completely inadequate one. To paraphrase Walt Whitman, your qualities contradicted themselves, but you were large, you contained multitudes.
How do I describe someone so accepting and genuine who made me feel so valuable? How can I tell people that the way you followed your feelings and set ambitious goals showed me what was possible?
I learned so much from you, but I struggled to process it and integrate it all into my life. I'm still struggling. And I'll always struggle. (by Neal 4-26-13)
You are missed, Kaitlyn. Your kindness, your smile, the wonder with which you approach the world, will stay with me always. Love, Emma (4-27-13)
Love you Kaitlyn, thinking of you when you'd come to mama's for dinners and family holidays. So quiet sitting there, such a precious part of our family. We will always welcome your precious spirit with us Kaitlyn, you will always be with us. We love you! (by Sherry 4-29-13)
Everything I see lately reminds me of you. I went to The Learning Express yesterday and looked at all of the baby/small children toys, and almost burst into tears knowing that I will never have any nieces or nephews to share them with and that my kids will never have an aunt to love. I think that's one of the things that hurts the most: the fact that I feel so robbed. You were my only sibling, and now I'm an only child. I remember one of our last conversations at Grandma's over Easter break and we were talking about kids, and you were telling me that you were planning on adopting. I had always envisioned our kids growing up together and being the best of friends, but please know this: my kids will always know you. They may not be able to ever give you a hug, but they will keep your vivacious spirit alive. I love you, Turd. (by Stephanie her sister 4-29-13)
Kaitlyn, I try so hard not to count down how many days or weeks it's been since you've been gone. Time moves on, but our questions are still the same every day and they will probably be the same questions hundreds of years from now because there is no way we will ever have them answered – not in this lifetime. I hope you know that I love you and always will. I wish I had seen something in your eyes or heard something in your voice or in your conversations on Easter Sunday that would have given us a warning of what you were contemplating or struggling with. Do you know how huge of a void you leave in our family? Do you realize that there will never be a completeness at family meals or gatherings? Do you realize that Christmas, Easter, Mothers Day, Fathers Day, and Grandma and Granddaddy's birthdays will never be celebrated with as much joy as we used to because of the loss of your sweet and precious self being present? If I could rewind time for just a few weeks, I would go back to the last time I saw you, Easter Sunday, and I would make a point to tell you just how much you are loved and how much I enjoy being around you and hearing your talk of all of your adventures and your exciting life. I would have told you how cute you were when I first held you as a baby and how you reminded me so much of my brother when he was a toddler with glasses. I never told you these things. I never told you just how much you meant to me. I'm so sorry Kaitlyn! I love you! (by Lisa 4-30-13)
Kaitlyn, I have to bow out of your fb life. I only spent about 2 hours with you in February, on the project where you interviewed me (and I you). You were over-dressed for the project. But what a lovely, classy figure you made!! After reading all the posts here, I'm convinced that I was right about you being so smart, vivacious, and outgoing; and just a very special lady! And, in those 2 hours, I felt I had become a friend. I would never have guessed you were leaving us. Good-bye, my friend. (by Lindsay 5-1-13)
I'm haunted now by the photos we never took together, the poems I never shared, and that visit we were planning this summer. Now I have to visit your grave and your grieving mother instead. She has a gift for me–that picture of us you kept in your apartment. Now I will keep it with me, always. Funny how I hated that picture of me–not because if you, of course, because you were always beautiful and photogenic. But now it will be my most cherished picture.
I shouldn't care that much about a picture. I shouldn't agonize over the things you gave me and hold them in the hope that somehow they might bring you little closer. I shouldn't analyze every available memory. Our friendship was such an easy one. We just conversed over meal after meal. And we walked and watched movies and just were. Now thinking of you will never be easy. It still makes me smile, but not in the same way it used to, because now I can't send you a text when you're on my mind. I would always text because I knew you were busy studying, but I've missed your voice. I should've called.
You used smiling emoticons in your last message to me, just a little over a month ago. The great irony is that I was reaching out to you because I was depressed, and your response made me feel better because I knew–or thought I knew–that you were happy and that I would see you again soon. You didn't have to use those smiling emoticons or tell me how happy you were. I would've understood your reality, as I always did–and all too well. I would've talked about it with you. We could've helped each other, as we did so many times before.
I had come to some peace about us being so far apart the last two years. We were both pursuing our dream careers, right? But it hasn't been the same without you, and I wish I had told you that. I always imagined that we would end up back together somehow, maybe living in the same neighborhood. It was just a fantasy, I guess, but somehow I held onto it. Friendships like ours only come once in a lifetime, if you're lucky. I was beyond fortunate.
But now I'm just sad. Damn it, Kaitlyn, I miss you. (by Ian 5-6-13)
Tuesday, a month ago, was the last time I saw you alive, my Love.
The pain of losing you has been wracking me every day. There hasn't been a day I didn't cry for losing you like this, before going back to my life and trying to keep it on track. Yesterday, I thought I would finally have a day without crying. But the sun shone through my window, and in its bright light I realized that a half a dozen golden two inch hairs were embedded in the fleece blanked you used when you were here. All I have left of you in place of our shared dreams is a letter that cuts me open like a knife, a few photos, and half a dozen golden hairs — soft, delicate and beautiful.
In your letter you said that you are so sorry to leave me, and that you hope I can be happy. It will be a long journey before I am whole again. (by Shai 5-7-13)
In a few minutes it will have been a month since you been gone. I love you, Turd. (by Stephanie her sister 5-10-13)
It's been one month since my best friend took her life. How the time passes and the things we love become memories. In many ways I still feel that none of this is real, not her death nor my own life. Each time I wake up, I manifest a reality, one where people stick around or log out permanently as they please. I must respect their decisions. I am not angry or hurt – perhaps a little sad, in a selfish way. The days will continue to pass and I will grow old and die too. Perhaps there is something on the other side. She knows now, as does my brother, and I look forward to the same knowing – be it with her or not.
Kaitlyn Elkins, my brilliant, dearest little sister: I will always love you. (by Nathanael 5-11-13)
It has been a month since my best friend Kaitlyn Elkins took her own life.
Kaitlyn, it has been a difficult month. In that month, I've learned that you were depressed, and that your friends, family, and I didn't know. I've met your incredible family and learned where all of the good parts about you came from. I've met some of your friends who are brilliant, caring, and earnest. They are all incredible people who matched you in many ways. I told you often that you would be an amazing doctor. I told you often how much you meant to me. I'm still in awe that you ran your first marathon during your second year of med school. Most of us would envy your life.
I'll never know what your thoughts were. But, I know you were happy when I saw you. I know you were happy when you laughed. I didn't know everything about you, but I believe that the other people in your life made you happy and made your life better.
My life will never be the same. It improved dramatically when I first met you. I'm still working to match your example. You did so much in the short time you spent with us. In the short time you spent with me, I did my best to make every moment count. I was at my best when you were around. Not because I was trying, but because I felt so comfortable around you. I told you often that I felt like time with you was a gift. I still feel that way, but it doesn't make this month any easier.
And so I live on, resolved to honoring your memory by being the best I can be. I will never forget you. And I will always love you. (by Neal 5-11-13)
Dear niece, It's been a month now since we heard the news and there has not been one day or probably not one hour I haven't thought of you. I remember the last time I talked to you was at Easter. I remember asking you what you wanted to specialize in as a doctor and you said you thought maybe pediatrics. I told you that you would soon be making rounds with the doctors and we laughed and you smiled and nodded your head yes. I could have not known you were in pain. I wish now that I have asked you how your day was going, how do you feel, just little things instead, but I didn't know that you were in pain, but I believe that you knew I loved you and I cared. You will always be loved and stay right in ours hearts all the time. (by Sherry 5-11-13)
It has been one month since my best friend, Kaitlyn Elkins, took her own life.
Beautiful, amazing Kaitlyn. Saying these words, I know that I'm not alone. But I feel so alone. It's so difficult to carry on when you were the person I turned to. I suppose you would laugh to know that my friends are jealous of you, at this very moment; and I would laugh with you. If only I could.
All I can promise today is to be OK. I'm so sorry that I need to avoid you for a little while longer.
Know that I still think only wonderful things about you. And that I will always love you. (by Shannon 5-11-13)
It's been a month.
Margaret and I still both cry every day for having lost Kaitlyn. The burning raw anguish of it has subsided enough for me to share with you a bit more of the Kaitlyn that I knew and loved so dearly.
I met Kaitlyn through an online dating site. I first saw her profile in September last year; it stated that she was "born in sadness" and she sounded very lonely. At least from me, that fact of her sadness was never secret — only its severity and suicidal intent were hidden.
I live in Michigan, very far away from Winston-Salem, so I sent her a note saying that she seems like a wonderful person, and that she should hang in there, and continue to be her so awesome self. Just knowing that she existed was already an inspiration to me; I never expected to get to know her. In January she contacted me, and told me that what she saw of me seemed so perfect to her she had trouble working up the courage to respond before. We started chatting online, and quickly discovered that we are to each other everything we dreamed to find in a partner. A weekend or two later Kaitlyn came to visit me in Michigan — and it was wonderful beyond words.
In the paltry four months she graced my life, Kaitlyn and I spoke every day, usually multiple times. We spent two whole weeks together — one in NC while she was studying for her boards, and one in MI after her board exams — the week before she killed herself. Both weeks were heavenly. I am old enough and experienced enough in relationships to know how spectacularly well we fit together. This was a woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, and she told me she felt the same. We made plans for seeing each other on her future breaks, and on my vacations. She looked for residency programs near my home. We had a trajectory planned toward a wonderful life with each other that we both barely dared dream of before we met.
This is why Kaitlyn's suicide still rips my heart apart every day. Suicidal people don't make plans for next week, and discuss them with a glowing smile of anticipation. They don't buy new clothes, and find new favorite place to come to on their next visit. They don't work towards building a new family and a new life in a new place they express so much delight in. At least I thought they don't.
I know that for all of you who shared many years of your lives with Kaitlyn, my flicker of presence in her life seems insignificant. But she was not insignificant in my life — she was tremendously important, and becoming more so with every passing day. The shock of losing her is staggering.
Yesterday, I went jogging on the trails next to my house that I was planning to scout for her scheduled visit. I haven't run in many years but Kaitlyn and I talked about going running together — as one more thing to share — it just never worked out during the previous visits. Now I run, and it is bittersweet. It is a physical way of being closer to her for a while, at least in spirit, and to feel the loss even more poignantly.
My darling Kaitlyn – in every corner of my life are places I reserved for you. I trained my self to carry you with me in spirit, so that the two long years of waiting for you would be bearable, full of bits and pieces of anticipation of you and of our conversations. You asked if I could forgive you for leaving me, and for being so selfish. Of course I can; and I have. The shotgun blast of holes your suicide left in my heart and my life will take a very long time to heal. (Shai 5-11-13. NOTE: Shai is the only person to my knowledge that knew of her depression and he thought we knew. We didn’t).