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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it.

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« It’s been far too long since I wrote about my cat. | Main | May I Gently Suggest: "Is It Fall Already?" Edition »
Thursday
Nov142013

For Chloe 

I met Chloe Wing eleven years ago, shortly after Henry was born, when I could finally leave him with my mom long enough to seek out some help for my arm pain. Chloe taught the Alexander Technique, which I am not at all qualified to explain. Wikipedia says that the Alexander Technique “teaches people how to stop using unnecessary levels of muscular and mental tension during their everyday activities,” and that sounds right, if a little simplistic. I could write in great detail how much the Alexander Technique helped me, but that seems like not putting credit where it is due: Chloe helped me. Chloe saved me.

Chloe rearranged me from the inside out. I never had a day where I felt all right with my body until I met Chloe. I never had a clue how tense I was, how much I walked around like a floating head in a jar, until I worked with her. Chloe brought me back to myself. But as much as those sessions helped me physically, it was the experience of being with Chloe that really changed my life. Over the years, Chloe became my life advisor, my therapist, my guru, my role model, and my friend. She was everything I wanted to grow up to be: confident, loving, no-nonsense, tough as hell, hilarious, kind of kooky.

Chloe was delightful. I mean that literally: she was full of delight. She made you feel like you were the funniest and most interesting person she could hope to be with. And then her next student arrived, and she focused her beam on them, and you knew she did that for everyone. And there was nothing insincere about it. She loved her students. Her students loved her. Nothing made me happier than recommending Chloe’s services to my friends, and if they were lucky enough to go to her, they came back amazed.

Eventually, after my arms got better and the rest of me was sorted out, Chloe gently booted me from the nest. I didn’t need her services anymore, she said. She assured me that I could always call; I could always come in for a tune-up. And I did. Sometimes I scheduled a session just to talk. Many times I called her with a new pain or ache and when I said I should come in, she’d say I was going to be fine, that she didn’t think I needed her. She was wrong, though, at least about that. I always needed her.

You have probably noticed all this past-tense usage. You’re a smart bunch; you know what’s coming. I was going to call Chloe this week. I was. But Chloe died on September 20th.

I only found out that she died because someone sent me a tweet asking me what had happened. "I heard you knew Chloe Wing," he wrote, and when I read that I got hot and cold at the same time and started sobbing. My family came running, and all I could do was point at the computer. Scott observed that this person could be wrong, of course. I scoured the Internet for some kind of information on her, which wasn’t easy; Chloe didn’t see the point of the Internet, much less social media. Eventually I found out through fellow students, fellow beloveds of Chloe’s, that she had indeed died, almost two months ago. That she chose not to share her illness with her students; she wanted and needed privacy in the end. I can only imagine, knowing how loved she was, that the burden of so many people’s sorrow was more than she could (or should) bear.

As much as I respect her decision, I wish I could have told her how much she meant to me.

About a year and a half ago, Chloe's husband died suddenly. My friend Jessie—who loved Chloe as much as I do, who is the first person I called when I found out she died—sent me his obituary. We both called her right away. I left her a message expressing my condolences, and she returned my voicemail with one of her own, thanking me. She ended the message with “I love you,” which I remember because I literally clutched at my chest when I heard that, it gave me such joy.

I left her another message in return, asking if we could get together, if I could bring her something, or just take her out for tea. I never heard back. I remember leaving her that message, but I can’t remember if I said I loved her, too. I hope I did. She knew, of course, but she deserved to hear it.

Reader Comments (28)

She knew. She knew because you called and left a message and called again to offer your time. She heard it even if you didn't say those words in that order.

I so sorry for your loss.

November 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJeCaThRe

oh, Alice. I am so sorry. What a beautiful tribute.

November 14, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterisabel @alphamom

Damn.

November 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterElan Morgan

I am so sorry. What an amazing person you were so lucky to meet. I have a "Chloe" too, and she is much like your Chloe. How tragic that her husband died and then she did. How wonderful that you could be a part of her life and her yours.

November 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMaggie May

I'm so sorry. That's tough, and even harder somehow not to have known sooner. But you were lucky to have known her and clearly she was the sort of person to have taken pleasure from knowing you.

November 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPam

I'm so sorry for your loss. This just reminds me how important it is to tell people how we feel and not take any of our time with loved ones for granted. How wonderful that you got to know her as she sounds like a beautiful soul.

November 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSizzle

I love you guys. Thank you. She was so beautiful. I feel so lucky to have known her.

November 14, 2013 | Registered CommenterAlice

This is so sad. I'm sorry, Alice. I remember finding out a dear, dear elderly woman I would help out ocassionally in college, errands to the Post Office and light grocery shopping, things like that. I knew she was ill, but I never asked what... I found out she was in the hospital and called to talk or visit, but her family answering the phone asked for no visitors. I read of her obituary in the paper and did make it to the funeral. But I just wanted to tell her how much I loved her, how kind she was to me, to find these itty errands for me to do in college, and then pay me 20 bucks to do them. She was so kind, we all know she just made up needing stamps from the post office. I am so sorry, Alice. I believe you brought delight to her, also... the way you do to me.

November 14, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteralexandra

Thank you for sharing this about your friend. She sounds amazing. I'm sure she knew how much you cared about her. Sending you love and internet hugs. xoxo

November 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie

So very sorry... she sounded like an amazing person.

November 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMauigirl

She knew as she does now.

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered Commentergorillabuns

Alice, just beautiful. So sorry for your loss.

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMargit

This is beautiful.

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRita Arens

What a beautiful tribute, Alice. It seems appropriate to take this opportunity to say thank you to YOU, because I really love reading your writing. You are delightful and fun and sweet and hilarious and I enjoy your stories so, so much. Even sad ones. :)

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKimberley

I'm so sorry.

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKorinthia

Hello Alice, I like your name, it reminded me of one of my favorite books in high school: Go Ask Alice. I am sorry for your loss and how sad that you weren't able to say goodbye. Sometimes its better not to though, at least Chloe knew you loved her. :) Hope you have a wonderful weekend! -Iva

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAwesomelyOZ

Oh, Alice, my heart is sad but also glad you had her in your life even if only for a brief time. She was a smart woman, she knew. xo

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJill P

I'm sorry for your loss, Alice.

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVal

Chloe sounds like an angel among us...and perhaps she was.
I hope you find peace soon.

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

My earlier comment (devoid of vulgar profanity) didn't make it ... just wanted to express what a beautiful portrait this was of Chloe ... and I hope her place in your heart brings you peace.

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdianne

I'm so sorry you lost your friend.

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

She knew. She really did.

You did well, Alice.

November 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMegan

I'm catching up on my Feedly tonight and this had me in tears, Alice. I'm so sorry for your loss.

November 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHouseofJules

I'm so sorry for your loss. It sounds like she was really an amazing person and helped a lot of people.

November 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoquena

I am so sorry, Alice, but so deeply glad that you knew her. Thank you for giving us a glimpse of Chloe.

November 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterR

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