Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Yesterday I learned that my penpal of 6 years was found dead in her apartment.

I am deeply saddened by this and cannot remember a time that I've been so upset over one's death.

Chelle was the person I thought about when times were tough- she'd been through a lot over the past few years and I've always admired her strength and ability to get through the roughest of times. I suppose that strength only goes so far, though...I'm sad that hers ran out.

I met Chelle through a website called PostcardX before it disintegrated. Her list of interests went on and on. Living in a small town at the time, I remember thinking I've finally found somebody who will get me.

After a couple postcards and letters back and forth, I quickly realized that Chelle was "safe" and that I could tell her anything. We had no real-life connections and therefore I didn't have to worry about her telling other people what I wrote to her. The only other person I've ever felt this way about is Joe.

Our relationship was through pen and paper only...we had never talked on the telephone and we rarely sent emails. 5 page long letters were a common occurrence. I always made cactus drawings on the envelopes...she loved the desert and recently moved back to be near it. Whenever I see a cactus at the garden store, I think of Chelle. It's weird how little things can make you think of a certain person over and over again.

I'll miss writing long letters to her when Joe is away- that was my thing when he traveled- I'd have a night or two to write and write, and I'd spend hours doing it. It was something I looked forward to.

Glancing at my front porch to see if there's a package waiting will take awhile to get over. She sent me lots of those. And her letters were the best- they always made me laugh. She was just as kind-hearted as she was witty- it was a great combination.

Halloween will never feel the same. She sent Joe and I lots of good stuff around Halloween. Tons of bat themed things...it was pretty awesome.

And the hunt for little things to send her probably wont go away for quite some time.

Cats. Cacti. Pink paper. Turkish coffee. Carrot cake. Music. The Oakland Raiders. Postcards. The Mojave. The smell of stale cigarettes enveloped within. Telling somebody that I couldn't wait to have a huge yard so I could dance in my garden without the neighbors seeing. Reading about travels. These are all things that will always remind me of Chelle.

I hadn't realized what a tremendous impact she has had on my life until yesterday. I've lost a great friend. The long handwritten letters & the reason to write with a pen will be missed dearly. Sure- anyone can write with a pen...but there is no longer a reason to. The internet has taken it from us. But Chelle gave me that.  

I'm not really sure how to end this. There's not a great way to go about doing so. For now I'll be on my way & be thankful for my pine tree hanky. 


beth said...

Wow. How horribly sad, yet wonderfully inspiring in the connection of strangers. Erin, I love the way you interact with people, are true to yourself and cherish the uniqueness in everyone....my deepest condolences on your loss.

Erin Lang Norris said...

Thanks so much, Beth.

Valerie said...

Chelle sounds like she was an amazing person. What a great remembrance of her! Let her spirit live on through you. Hang in there, dear!

Aesthetic Outburst... said...

Oh no! Erin, this is so sad. Thinking about you. xo,