quand il pleut, il pleut


Today was brutally cold in New York City; the kind of winds that made your face hurt. After missing trains and getting flummoxed in Brooklyn, I finally got the Lulubeans to Grand Central, where she watched the laser show on the ceiling – then we went to Rockefeller Center to see the big tree over the ice skating rink.

Spending the day with my daughter is such a wonderful thing, and it made the following news that much harder to fathom: Lillian Chason, a freshman at UNC from Barrington, RI, died today of the H1N1 virus.

The wonderful Anne from the comments section had sent me occasional updates (as she’s our Rhode Island delegate) and like most people, I’d assumed Lilian was recovering, but if you go to her heartbreaking Facebook group, the dispatches from her father continued to get worse and worse. The crew at UNC Hospital did everything they could.

I know good people die every day, but Lillian was… sorta one of us, you know? Look through the pictures, and you’ll see yourself back at the dorm, or posing with friends on a porch in mid-summer. I can’t imagine being her dad, reporting the little victories and ultimate descent, and then I saw this picture:


And I recognized it instantly as the Tuileries garden in Paris opposite the Louvre, where I took this picture with Lucy, Tessa and Seth in 2006:


All we can do is offer the Chason family our sincerest sadness over their daughter, and in return, they offer us overwhelming perspective, and an opportunity to hold our kids as tightly as we can during the bleak and the chill wind.

0 thoughts on “quand il pleut, il pleut

  1. Neva

    I just finished reading this in the newspaper when I came to this site. How heartbreaking.
    Please everyone, go get your vaccine.

  2. Anne

    In Barrington, RI, where the Chasons live much of the year and where Lillian graduated from the excellent public high school, she was a superstar… Winning lead roles in school and community plays and musicals, charming everyone, apparently. We don’t know the Chasons personally, but this is a VERY small state, more like one big neighborhood, and the death of a young person hits us all hard.
    Close to 80% of all children and teens in RI have received the H1N1 vaccination, but it’s not yet available for reasonably healthy adults. We’re not expected to get it until much later this winter. My daughter — one year older than Lillian — is coming home from Syracuse tonight, and I already have her registered on the RI Dept. of Health site for a vaccination next week.
    To the wonderful UNC community: My deepest condolences. She was indeed “one of you”, clearly, in every good way.

  3. Neva

    Anne- can you travel to a neighboring state to get it? I realize that’s a lot of trouble but I know some places have gotten more than others. In some places random drug stores are giving it out like water.
    In most countries that have already been through this flu season there were two peaks in incidence. Many people are beginning to breathe a sigh of relief that maybe we’re through the worst of this but I’m afraid that we may see another surge of disease rates again and getting vaccinated now is still really important.
    Also – a reminder to those with kids 9 and under – they should receive a booster shot in 30 days. My kid needs the second one already.

  4. Anne

    Neva: That’s a good idea, especially since our border with Massachusetts is 10 minutes from Providence, where I work. I’ll check the MA health web site. Thanks. I haven’t even had the regular flu shot … RI ran out of that back in October. My 17 yo son who still lives at home has had both flu vaccines through school; 4 year old granddaughter (who is with me on Fridays) had both at the pediatrician; that minimizes my exposure a bit.

  5. Joanna

    Thanks for posting this, Ian.
    As for the vaccine, I’d opt for the shot rather than the mist, if you can. For my daughter’s booster, I chose the mist and she sneezed as soon as it was administered. The nurse said, “Well, I hope she still got some immunity from that.” Agh! I was trying to save her a little discomfort and now I fear I’ve compromised her immunity. I’m hoping they factored in the likelihood of a sneeze when a foreign substance is introduced to the nose!

  6. Rebecca

    Unimaginable heartbreak. Losing a child has to be the worst thing that can happen to you.
    My kids have all had the vaccine, and I just got mine today.

  7. Dr. C

    Joanna, don’t worry about the sneeze, the nasal spray vaccine works fine even if the person who is getting it coughs or sneezes.
    Thanks for posting, this is so very sad. I can tell you Angelenos that we now have a fair amount of vaccine in LA and everyone is eligible to get it — the “priority group” thing was dropped this week.

  8. Emma's big sis

    If anyone is still reading this, you can go to Prayer’s For Lillian page, linked by Ian above, and make a donation to the Prayers For Lillian Fund. This fund is to help offset the cost of the Chason family living in Chapel Hill for a month, not working, and taking care of their daughter in her final days. They will also donate a portion to a charity. Many may not know this, but Lillian was diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease and was slowly going blind. From what I understand, she didn’t let this get in the way of anything. From what I’ve heard, the eye disease and her reaction to H1N1 are not linked. Lillian’s grandmother Tootsie worked as Emma and my father’s nurse for as long as I can remember.


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