Candle in the Wind


Sarah J. Van Cleve

"First there was Marilyn, then- Madonna. Next...is CHELLE!" That is probably the one quote of Chelle's that I will remember forever. Chelle's real name was Michelle, but nobody- except maybe her parents when they were angry- knew her as Michelle. If anyone said the name Chelle- EVERYONE knew who you were talking about. Chelle was a boyant, energetic, funloving Eighteen year old and never did anything halfway. Everything Chelle did- she DID...with zest and with a certain kind of flair only Chelle could pull off. She was the classic textbook case- the ONE person that noone would ever suspect of suicide. We had been friends ever since the 7th grade...not the best of friends, but we never lost sight of each other along the way. I met Chelle through one of her great passions: Swimming. On our 7th grade swim team she excelled and quickly became one of the teams front runners. I never went back to swim team, but Chelle and I strengthened our bond through MY one great love- the theatre. Many times, Both Chelle and I would be up for the same part- but no matter the outcome, we both supported each other and had many laughs along the way.

We both adored Marilyn Monroe and Madonna and Chelle reminds me of them both in so many ways. Other than her always perfectly groomed beautiful Blonde hair, Chelle always had a way of stealing the spotlight..even just by walking in a room. She was a Star in all senses- her magnetic personality commanded everyone's attention. Chelle didn't take any crap from anyone- she laid everything on the line and expected the same. She told it as she saw it, no holds barred- though I'm sure hurting a few fragile feelings along the way I respected her amazing bluntness. She was outlandish, outrageous and I loved her for it. I looked up to Chelle in so many ways- She taught me a lot about who I am today, though I didn't know it until now. Sometimes I felt like a little kid next to her- she always seemed to be a few years ahead of us all. Although plauged with some problems in her younger days of "rebellion," Chelle seemed so polished and well set by Senior Year..She was an apprentice to her mom in the salon and had realized most of her goals...

For whatever reason, Chelle decided to end everything on Feb. 13th, 1996. Leaving behind an 11 page letter to her family/friends/and boyfriend, she ran away from an assisting police officer and jumped from an overpass to the highway below. This weekend was her funeral. I saw so many of my classmates back from school, It was almost like a class reunion. But not like this- this wasn't supposed to be the way. Chelle was supposed to be wearing her hot pink glitter Doc Maartens {one of her most prized possesions}...they were supposed to be filled by her feet, not by flowers in rememberence...set next to her casket. Thankfully, the family decided to have an open casket. She looked so old- her usually sweet face marred by well covered abrasions. Laid out in a gorgeous wine colored dress, her waxen hands clutching a small nosegay she looked ready for a prom, not her funeral. There is a numb, dull ache in me when I think of all she had going for her- Chelle was obsolete- priceless...Never to be replaced. I get so angry thinking about all the good times and all the people she left behind- so many peole loved and admired her and her spunk. It seems like Majority rules was not the case here. I know I will not heal for a long time... I never got to say goodbye- only to her lifeless body. I had gone to college 3 hours away last semester, Chelle stayed at our community college...I decided to stay here for this semester and was always "going to call her" but never found the time. And all of a sudden, time ran out. I know Chelle must have had a good reason- she was not stupid. I respect her and miss her...and wherever she is now, I hope she finds the peace she could not find in this world.


"And it seems to me you lived your life like a candle in the wind, Never knowing where to turn to when the rain set in. And I would have like to known you but I was just a kid, Your candle burned out long before your legend ever did."

Goodbye Chelle...I will always hold you in my heart. And "One Sweet Day" I'll find you again. But until then, "I Will Remember" {Madonna}

Your fellow Blondie-
Sarah



You can send email to Sarah at vasclev6@uwcsms1.uwc.edu
mail welcome


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Crisis, Grief, and Healing: Tom Golden LCSW