Rest in Peace Christie Leigh Hutchins
This post was most recently updated on October 27th, 2012
Last Friday I thought of Christie a few times during the day. That evening I saw the mail on the table and there was the BYU Magazine, which I read sometimes. This time though I really wanted to read it. I felt a pull to read it. Even though Stephen and I were going on a date and he doesn’t like me to read then, I couldn’t resist and took it with me.
I read until the end section where they list the people who had died since the last issue. I found myself skimming names, then wondering what I was doing. I turned to the last page of names – people closer to my age – and just skimmed the last few names. It was then that I saw the name Christie Leigh Hutchins who lived in Missouri at the time of death. My heart sank.
Somehow then I knew it was my former mission companion and that she had killed herself. This is ironic because of all of my companions, she is the one who was most cheerful. In fact, her cheerfulness could get on my nerves. I remember her getting a package from someone with a bright yellow sweat suit with smiley faces drawn all over – even on the knees and across the chest. It drove me crazy. I had to ask her to please be more mellow in the mornings and when she put that on I probably rolled my eyes.
Christi’s hair was super thick and curly. When she was high strung she twisted it around her fingers until her hair got so big it was like she had an afro. I laughed. Even though I’m much taller she walked faster than I did when we were tracting. It’s as if she couldn’t wait to get to the next house. She was anxiously engaged in this good cause.
The only other contact we had after being in New York was random – we were both in LA at church in the same bathroom at the same time. She mentioned being overweight, unhappy in her job and that she’d likely never get married. She seemed otherwise just as I remembered her. I remember hoping she’d find a job that she was happy with. I also hoped she’d find someone – I believe it’s much easier (though still unbelievably difficult) to suffer such things with a spouse than on your own. I was happy to see her again and now wished I’d kept in touch.
I finally confirmed what I’d known and what is so sad to hear. I called our mission president Marlin Jensen. He is a general authority and someone I look up to so much it was almost hard to call. I think I idolize him. He is so gentle, highly intelligent but humble and kind. I missed him but he called back and left a voicemail that I will quote from (he said I could):
“Following her mission, Chrisitie inexplicably began to have depression. She struggled mightily for a number of years. She got good professional help, medication and therapy but couldn’t pull out of it. She couldn’t even hold a job towards the end and had no social life. She was just a very depressed person and I guess it just got so unbearable she saw a way out and took it, which made us all terribly sad. I’m sure the Holy One of Israel who is keeper of the gate will usher her in.”
I cannot capture the way he said these words but they were kind and soothing. After hearing them I had another hard cry.
The Holy One and “prince of good things to come” is familiar with grief. He understands and has wept to see the pain that death can cause. Remember he cried when Lazareth died, even though he knew he would bring him back to life just minutes later. It is this strong empathy — a quality I love to see in people. He even feels for you when your problems are your own fault – or as with Christie when she’d done what she could to overcome and that was all she could do.
I love this book called, “Deliverance from Depression” and another irony is the author’s last name has the word “grief” in it (G.G. Vandagrief). She had depression for 20 years and finally, through prayers and inspiration found a combination of drugs that works for her. Such a triumph! She says keep trying medications and pray for your doctor and encourage the person to keep going back if the medications are not helping. The risk of untreated depression is death – usually through suicide.
From the book: “The greatest test of that person’s life may be this depresssion and, if they endure that test to the best of their abilities, they may – with the Atonement of Christ – have done all that is necessary to enter the celestial kingdom.”
I wish Christie had found a combination of help that worked for her. But she didn’t and it’s ok. We’re each unique and must find our own answers. I highly recommend this post from someone I know who lost her sister to suicide.
Even though this is not the usually kind of story I write on blogs, I scoured the Internet and could find very little said about Christie. I needed to have a record of some sort about her besides my own journal – a public record. In case anyone else wonders and can’t find her. So I say this to my friend, hoping that it is now true for her: rest in peace Christie Leigh Hutchins.
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