March 5th, 2011


Remains of life: a birthday remembrance

Today was the birthday of someone who can no longer celebrate it.

In 2007, through LiveJournal, I learned of a young, local Portland woman named Erin Bennett. Her LJ name was -- still is, though the account is deleted -- redscorner. Her LJ name remains here, as one too-small way of memorializing her. I've kept her name on my list of LJ friends, nearly two years past the day in late March 2009 when she died.

Erin had major health problems. Erin looked for unorthodox ways to pay for treating them. Erin dealt with full-on harassment plus a more general suspicion of what one finds on the Internet: how can you know that a person seeking help truly needs that help? It was, thank everything, not a scam: Erin needed help, and was trying her options, even creating options. (The big one was projectdownload.) When push came to shove and she needed more direct funding, Erin was able to get it.

She fought to get better, and for people to take her and her situation seriously. For a time, this worked. But her body revolted on her one more time, and she passed away.

I passed along the news. I had heard rumors that weekend that something had happened to Erin, and looked for ways to confirm. When I'd read this post by Erin supporter cleolinda confirming Erin's death, I was visiting my parents in their Dundee, Oregon home. I wrote my entry. March 29th, 2009, 5:08 p.m., two days past March 27th when her death had happened. Not everything can be known quickly, even today. Then I walked away from the computer and to Mom and Dad, and let them know. Mom and Dad, to their credit, saw how I was affected by the news and decided to wait on frustrating family news that they'd planned to tell me on that visit. I learned that news later (no longer news two years on, so no, I won't relate it here, but I note it for context). This gives more detail, and more thoughts about the loss of Erin.

Then I learned the time and place of Erin's memorial. Which I was able to attend. It was the first time I ever saw even a picture of Erin Bennett, let alone people who had known her in person. Birth family, step-family, friends, acquaintances: they were among the small crowd that drizzle-tinged April morning in Oregon City two years back. Still an easy day for me to remember.

In the church, we talked. We listened. We cried. We heard songs. We saw the flowers, such as from the clinic where she'd been treated. We ate: comfort food was, as it is at most funerals, especially needed.

And the lives that were, and are, still around keep happening. What once were birthdays can be days of memorial. And with Erin's LJ name redscorner still on my profile page, the birthday notices on the front page of LiveJournal can remind me of a life that is no longer happening, and which should, which deserves to be.

Two years on and you're remembered, Erin Bennett, and not just by me. We'll keep remembering.