in Daily Life, Friends and Family


At 3:09 pm last Friday, Paul Carlile texted me. “I’m in PDX,” he wrote. “Are you available before 7.”

“Sorry. No,” I replied at 5:14. I had plans. I was taking pizza to Andrew Cronk and the kids, and then driving to the airport to pick up Kris.

Had I known then what I know now, I would have changed my plans completely. I would have let the Cronks go hungry. I would have left Kris standing at the curb.

Susan, Paul’s long-time girlfriend, just called. Though they’d recently broken up, they were still close. “J.D., this is Susan,” she said, and my brain had to whir — Susan who? “I’m sorry to have to tell you this,” she said, and then I realized it was Susan S., of course, who else? “But Paul killed himself last night.

What?” I said. Was she joking? Through her tears, Susan told me what she knew. Paul had been depressed for a long time. A mutual friend had spent the weekend with him, trying to help him come to grips. When she left, she thought Paul was on stable ground. He wasn’t.

I feel hollow. I didn’t see Paul often anymore — just a few times each year — but he was an important piece of me, a piece that is now lost. I have several paragraphs of memories typed here in my text editor, but I’m not in the mood to share them. It’s as if I want to keep them to myself, to hoard them.

Suffice it to say that I would not be who I am today without Paul. I cannot believe he’s gone.

Here’s a song Paul introduced me to:

It seems painfully appropriate for this occasion.

Update: More memories of Paul.

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  1. J.D.,

    …I just read your blog, and am a loss for words. I am so sorry for your loss…. and for the loss of everyone who knew Paul. I knew him in high school, and seem to remember a funny guy with a quick wit and a big smile. What a heartbreaking loss for all….

  2. I am in shock. Utter shock. My two sons were at the U of O and spent several nice times with their cousin, Paul. I wonder why I could not see the signs….oh, regrets, many I have….

  3. So sorry to hear this, JD — I know how close you guys were.

    I always enjoyed his quirky personality and sense of humor, and I have many fond memories of tagging along with you guys during high school and soon after. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

  4. I worked with and occasionally hung out with Paul. I was just searching the internet in hopes of finding something about him. There are a lot of people at the UO feeling sad right now. Thanks for putting this out there.

  5. These things are NEVER easy to take. They force us to look at ourselves on every level. Could I, would I, have I ever felt bad enough to…

    Paul is , was, ever shall be a special person period. A newly-found friend who I regard as some kind of a spiritual portal suggested, “they are always (the ones who take their own lives)extraordinary.

    Yes, Paul was extraordinary. I have stories upon stories. I could probably write a book if I were so gifted.

    Paul and I grew up together. His Mother, Father, Sister, home were like my second. I experienced what a father was supposed to be like when I observed Bruce Carlile (Paul’s father) with Paul. I got to share A kid sister-Annmarie with him as well, since I was the youngest in my family. Baseball, soccer, double-dates in high school…I would have without a moment’s hesitation given Paul the shirt off my back…the skin off of ANYTHING! I believe life is precious. I also believe Paul thought Life is precious as well…but something, call it what you want-devil, whim, misfortune…overpowered him long enough to take him away from us…if not momentarily.

    I love Paul and I know there are many who love him as well. I believe I will see him again someday. Because God is caring, accepting and forgiving. I have been taught that taking one’s own life is a sin and will result in no addmittance into heaven. I too believe Paul had a troubled soul and God sees Paul as one of his own and has plenty of room for acceptance.

    Paul is not over. He lives on in the hearts of his loved ones.

  6. I’m so sorry, J.D. I remember when Paul used to come to the house when you were teens. All those many years ago. You certainly could not have had any inkling of what he would do. Please be good to yourself, despite your sadness. My thoughts go out to everyone concerned.

  7. Well, I just heard about Paul via a phone call from Kim (Johnson). All I can think is that I just wish I could talk to him one more time. He is such an important part of so many special memories from Jr. High and High School. He was one of the first guys to give me butterflies in my stomach. He introduced me to a lot of good music too. It seems like he did that with a lot of people. Just thinking about him puts a smile on my face. I am anxious to re-read all my old high school letters & notes and remember the good times we had together. (I am one of those who keeps everything.) The last time I saw him was I think our 15 year high school reunion in 2002. The one at a restaurant in Lake Oswego. I missed him then. I miss him now. I don’t think he knew what a great guy he was. I just wish I could talk to him one more time. . .

    My deepest sympathies go out to everyone who loved him. ~ Tami

  8. Demonstrating my link to Paul, the song you posted was written by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. Great song, and great version by Johnny Cash. I’m listening to the original now, then on to some U2…

    Just found out, and have spent the last couple hours missing him, now writing to my blog about it.

    I guess I have to say ‘Thank You’ to Paul, for the time I knew him, and the reminder of him and old friendships now. I wish I could have seen him again – it sounds like he’s developed into a remarkable man, just like he was a remarkable lad when I knew him. And thank you all who’ve posted here and elsewhere, so I can get to know him again…

    When and where will the memorial be?

  9. My memories of Paul go back to childhood and the relationship I had with him as a friend and a teammate with the Cosmos.

    I recall Paul was such a fun soul…with a sense of humor that was mature, witty, and intellectual for his age. He was a joy to be with.

    Paul was also a dynamic goalkeeper for us. Fearless and just flat out gifted to play that position. We always felt that Paul had to be one of the best keepers in the Oregon Youth Soccer Association.

    I was fortunate enought to have reconnected with Paul some 20 yrs later on Facebook. We shared a few chats and a few memories for back in the day. He made sure to compliment me and encourage me to not be disheartened about a recent knee injury…while all the while, throwing in some of his precious sense of humor. My spirits were indeed lifted….thank you.

    My thoughts and prayers are with Paul’s parents and his sis AnnMarie…may God wrap His comforting arms around you and give you the strength necessary during this great time of loss

  10. JD and Tom… thank you so much for sharing your experiences, thoughts, and feelings so openly here. I am so glad you are able to do that because you are modeling what is real. And it is helpful and healthy. So many of us tend to bottle things up and beat ourselves up over things that happened in the past – and that is unhelpful and unhealthy. By putting this out there you are helping us all to remember Paul, maybe learn a little bit more about Paul, and to heal. He touched many lives during his lifetime and it sounds like he was a piece of who you both are today. I got to work with Paul here in Eugene, as he was a Financial Aid Counselor at UO and I am a School Counselor at Sheldon. It was always fun running into him at the College Nights and College Fairs and saying “Hey fellow Cougar” and then getting to tell whoever was next to us that we graduated from high school together. He was good at his job and I referred students and parents to him. He had a sweet, caring, and funny demeanor when he worked with the students – who were totally stressed out about paying for college! I know that I will miss seeing him and having him as one of my connections here in Eugene. And I know that doesn’t even compare to those who were true friends of his and to his family. So, my heart breaks for him, and for you both, and for all who loved him so much. I am feeling the need and desire to reach out to everyone I know right now and tell them how much they mean to me… this puts even more passion in my heart for all people… especially if they are hurting… but how do you know? So many of us wear that mask, that smile on our face, to appear that we are just fine… and so we just go on with life like everything is ok with our friends, family, co-workers, acquaintances… unless someone REALLY tells us they are not ok and they need our help – we just can’t know… and even if they did and we did as much as we possibly could… they could still choose to end their life. When that happens we have to know that they are already so far on the edge, that they had already made that decision, and that there was nothing that anyone could do. And I think that is what makes this so tough. It’s so difficult. It’s hard to understand… I hope that all of us can find strength again by always remembering Paul and by continuing to be a positive impact in the lives of everyone we know and meet.

  11. JD,

    I am so very, very sorry for everyone’s loss. I don’t recall being particularly close to Paul, but I do remember him being very kind. I was much closer to several of you (Tom Stewart, JD, Scott, Tamara), and I know how sad this must make you feel. Also, reading these blogs reminds me how much I miss my Canby friendships which now seem so very long ago.

  12. Dear JD and Other Friends of Paul,

    Please accept my sincere sympathies and condolences at the loss of your good friend. Despite the loss of Paul, it gladdens me to read heartfelt notes from so many of my former students whom I recall with great fondness. If your time permits, please drop me an eNote.

    Sincerely, [email protected]