On our son’s birthday March 11, I opened my Facebook feed to read a very sad obituary. A young, very accomplished woman had apparently taken her own life. Her brother’s words stung. "She's the one person I had shared almost my entire life with, and I shall miss her terribly," What an understatement, I’m sure.
I posted the story of this troubled stranger below. It blew my mind. So many thoughts raged in me that it was like fire spreading rapidly and rippling through my veins. People confide in me. A lot. I don’t claim to know the answers to everything but I’m a good listener and I empathize. Probably too much. The worries of others become mine. Truly.
If I could change anything it would be verbalizing my thoughts better. Writing comes more naturally to me than saying what I mean or what I’m thinking. I probably inherited that from my father. I can remember back to when I was a public school student and my father drove in the driveway after a long day of carrying the mail, and before he got out of the car I announced that I got a 95 on some test at school.
I don’t even remember what grade I was in—probably junior high school—and I don’t recall the subject of the particular test, but I can “hear” his response as clear as day, “Why couldn’t you have gotten 100?” After he spoke, seeing the expression on my face change from joy to disappointment, he smiled and even chuckled a bit with what I thought was his outrageous reaction to the grade I had worked so hard to achieve. I later learned or realized that he was teasing, 95 was actually good enough to still feel proud.
Having children changed me. It’s hard to balance your hopes and dreams for your offspring and have them understand that you want the maximum that they have the capacity to achieve. Watching our own children mature has been an eye-opener. They see their own worth as they reach their goals.
Now, with a grandchild coming I can see the world in a whole new light. Hopefully I can do my part in ensuring that the child understands that achieving is enough, and that their parents see that there is no greater love than that for your children, which comes with many trials and tribulations; parenthood is not an exact science.
I wish that this young, talented athlete, who had everything to live for would have had the chance to have children and know that type of unconditional love. Possibly she would have taken a step back from overachieving and she would have realized that simply achieving was enough. Had she reached out to her family, could their love for her have been the ultimate resource to help overcome her travails?
There were certain goals we set for our children; our intent was to make their lives easier. One was learning to read Hebrew so that they would feel comfortable in any synagogue in the world. We wanted them to be grounded by our traditions and faith, and be happy with themselves. That was why we worked so hard to make sure that they could also swim, ride a bicycle, and roller/ice skate, to name a few things. Not necessarily so that they could become Olympic athletes but just so that they could have fun participating in party activities…that was before we knew through my genealogy research that they had a cousin who won the bronze in the 1964 Summer Olympics in Japan.
We also wanted to give our children the chance to drive a car, travel, learn to play an instrument, type, and play sports, to exercise, have fun, and learn to work as a team. Most importantly, we wanted them to become the good people that they are, ready to raise their own families knowing full well that we’re always here for them, our most prized possessions. Nothing matters to us more.
“Olympic cyclist Kelly Catlin died late last week, USA cycling confirmed Sunday. She was 23.
Catlin's brother, Colin, said on Facebook Friday that his sister killed herself.
‘She's the one person I had shared almost my. entire life with, and I shall miss her terribly,’ he wrote in the post.
Catlin, a current USA Cycling national team member, won the silver medal in women's team pursuit at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
‘Kelly was more than an athlete to us, and she will always be part of the USA Cycling family,’ Rob DeMartini, USA Cycling president and CEO, said in a statement. ‘The entire cycling community is mourning this immense loss. We are offering continuous support to Kelly's teammates, coaches and staff.’
Catlin was a student and an athlete
Catlin was a native of Minnesota, according to the USA Cycling website , and was an alumna of the University of Minnesota.
She was a graduate student at Stanford University, studying computational mathematics, according to a February guest article she wrote for the cycling magazine Velo News where she described her struggles in juggling her academic and athletic career.
‘Being a graduate student, track cyclist, and professional road cyclist can instead feel like I need to time-travel to get everything done. And things still slip through the cracks,’ she wrote. It's like juggling with knives, but I really am dropping a lot of them. It's just that most of them hit the floor and not me.’
Athletes and cycling teams react to Catlin's death
Professional cycling team Rally UHC Cycling wrote on their official Twitter that Catlin's death ‘hit the team hard.’
‘Losing an incredible person at such a young age is very difficult. Kelly was our friend and teammate. Our heartfelt condolences go out to her family and those who were fortunate enough to know her best,’ the team said.
Retired professional cyclist Michael Sayers said her death was a ‘monumental loss for the cycling community here in the USA.’
Katie Uhlaender, American skeleton racer, tweeted ‘thoughts and prayers for her and her family #WEIGHTOFGOLD Three-time world track cycling champion Kelly Catlin passes away aged 23.’"