In Memory of Elaine M. Scheidt, 1956-2001.

My Aunt Elaine died yesterday. She was driving through the Harbor Tunnel when her car exploded. I wan’t going to start a thread about it; I just hijacked another one, but I thought maybe I could remember her here, and I’m sorry if I sadden anyone terribly.

The hardest thing about this whole deal is that she was so close to me when I was a girl. She was my best friend. And the more I think about what she meant to me, the more it hits me that she had such a big role in my life. She was a witness to my life. She lived it with me.

See, the worst part about having been abused as a child is that it’s a very lonely solitude that no one understands. It sucked. It blew big time. I can tell one side of the story: my father was a drunk and he beat me. I spent ten years walking around on eggshells, always a minute early or a minute late, always saying too much or not enough. I spent ten years trying to live up to this impossible standard of perfection, and always failed. If I spilled a glass of iced tea, I would get hit with a belt until I had welts on my back. If I snuck down the hall to hold my brother after he had been hit, I’d get hit too.

But at the same time, there were moments when life was perfect, and I would suffer the same abuse for another ten years if it meant I could ever come close to that level of joy again. Simple things: my 7th birthday when I got my first bike, waking up and smelling bacon and eggs and feeling the sun on my back and having the whole day in front of me. Or the time it rained all afternoon and the neighborhood kids put on our bathing suits and played in the rain until our parents came home. See, if I tell you I was abused you have this image of me that’s not entirely true. It’s only half of who I am, and very few people saw the whole picture: my mom and brother were too close; everyone else was too far away. My aunt and my grandmother (who died three years ago) were the only ones who understood. My aunt would take me away for entire weeks during the summer and let me be a little girl, let me watch Disney movies and leave crumbs everywhere. She gave me the freedom to be a child, when at home I had to be an adult, had to aware of what I said and did at every moment. But at Aunt Elaine’s, I was allowed to be myself, and she nurtured that. I used to cry when I left her because I wanted so badly for her to be my mom, so I could live in a happy house and be a kid like everyone else.

I don’t know if much of this makes sense, but my aunt was the only person who saw me as equal parts sadness and light. She understood what I lived with, and did the best she could to show me another sort of life. She taught me how to wear eyeshadow and didn’t make me do the dishes and took me fishing. She bought me new clothes when my parents couldn’t afford them and taught me how to hide new clothes from husbands.

She could debate circles around even the best GDers, especially when it came to issues like gun control and abortion. She was loud and opinionated and got drunk at parties and told stories about her childhood, which wasn’t all that great either. She showed me that I could be a whole person even though I was abused, that being poor didn’t have to define me, that I was a person no matter what. She played a big part in making me who I am today, more than anyone else. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I wasn’t abused, if I was loved enough. My aunt understood that in a way no one else ever will, even my best friends. When my mom got remarried and refused to talk about the first ten years of my life, Aunt Elaine always let me talk and cry when I needed to. She was the first person I loved who didn’t expect me to be perfect and hate me when I failed.

Even though none of you knew her, I can promise that most of you would have loved her. She was a wonderful, incredible, classy woman who taught me how to be the best of what I am now.

I’ll probably be away from the Board for the next few days, but thanks to everyone who e-mailed me and gave my a shoulder to cry on. I appreciate it more than you can possibly know, and I’m so happy to know that I have friends like you here.


Finally, a thread worthy that may allow my 400th post to have some merit. I’ve been saving this all day.

Nacho, I have nothing to say. I won’t trivialize your emotions by saying that I sympathize or anything like that. I definately won’t say that I know how you feel. I can only tell you that I have a soft, fluffy, warm spot in my heart where you are welcome to snuggle up with hot cocoa and shut out the world for a while. Stay as long as you like.

Thank you for sharing yourself. You are very strong and very brave. I have a lot of respect for you.

Nothing I can say about your loss, except I’m sorry she’s gone. She won’t be forgotten, I’m sure.

As someone who has dealt with darkness, Sarah, I apprechiate the light more. It sounds like that’s what your Aunt Elaine taught you, and it is more then a lesson. It is a gift.

I’m not gonna tell you that it’s alright, because it’s not. It’s not fair, it’s not “God’s plan,” it’s simply a shock and a waste. I’m not gonna say that it was her time, because I know it doesn’t seem like it to you. And I know how annoying it is to hear “If there is anything I can do for you…” so I won’t say that, either. It sounds like your darkness (that you survived, and still managed to become a fantastic person, which says a LOT about your character) was increadibly dark, which leads me to believe that the light you see in the world is far brighter than anything I can imagine. Elaine leaving you is a dark, darkness. Remember what she gave you in life. And remember her light.

I’m a click of a mouse or a phone call away if you need me. Be glad you had her in your life for as long as you did. If she changed you, and made you see what goodness there is in the world, then she was your gift.

What a horrible, horribly sudden thing to have happen…to her, and to you, Nacho4Sara. I can’t imagine what that must be like for you, but I offer my sincerest condolences.

Thank you, Sarah, for sharing your stories about your Aunt Elaine. She sounds like a wonderful person.

If you need someone to talk to, you can mail me, too.


My deepest sympathy for your loss. She sounds like a wonderful woman.


hugs Sarah

You’re in my thoughts, hon. I’m only a phone call away if you want to talk.

You are living testimony of the positive influence your aunt had on you when you grew up. She enabled you to go through what must have been some very rough patches in your life to become the vibrant young woman you are today.

Through you, she lives on.


I am so sorry, hon. If you need anything, don’t hesitate to call on me. I have the advantage of being only 10 or so miles away. If you need to cry, vent, rege, share or whatever, just let me know and I’d be honored to be there for you. IM me for my Phone # also, if you like.


I’m so sorry, Sarah. Thank you for sharing memories of your Aunt Elaine with us. She sounds like a beautiful person, one who any child would be lucky to have in her life. I know it won’t solve anything or ease the hurt any less, but please know that you’ll be in my thoughts.


I offer my condolences. Your aunt sounds as if she was a wonderful person. This sort of memorial brought tears to my eyes. You, too, are obviously wonderful.

Sara,while I have not known you long,I am saddened by your loss. Nothing that any of us can say can ease your pain and suffering except time. If you need someone to talk to my e-mail address is on my profile. (hugs)

The person you are now is her tacit, perfect eulogy.

And the explicit eulogy you gave her in the OP is one of the most moving, well-written things I’ve seen on the boards. You do her memory proud.

Thank you so much for your kind dear words. Every last one of you made me cry.

I thought I might be staying at my Aunt Cassie’s house, since she lives a lot closer to where Aunt Elaine is being laid out and buried, but it turns out I’m going to be home, so I’ll be able to post after all.

Tomorrow’s the viewing, although it’s going to be closed casket (they had to identify her by her dental records). Friday’s the funeral.

I finally got the whole story: my Aunt was outside the tunnel, heading north on 95, and there was some sort of traffic delay due to a trailer becoming unhitched. A dumptruck did not stop, instead careening through four lanes of traffic before hitting my Aunt’s new car. He dragged the car for about one hundred feet before it exploded.

If you live in the MD area, the photo of the crash is on the front page of the Maryland section. It’s seriously chilling. Her car is a shell, and the entire front and back of the dumptruck is gone. The driver survived somehow, and my uncle will be pressing charges for vehicular manslaughter. There were also several news reports about it on all the major stations.

Five other people, including my uncle, were injured. In the article on page 3B, it states that “a woman” was killed, because they didn’t want my uncle to find out from the press that his wife had died. Apparently he checked himself out of the hospital, got a ride home with his brother-in-law, and started calling hospitals to find out where Aunt Elaine was. He finally called the cops and was told that she had died.

The worst part is, witnesses said that she was alive after the accident, that they could see her banging on her window trying to get out, when the car exploded.

It makes me feel better to talk about it. It’s terribly gruesome, and the worst kind of death I can imagine. My best friend in high school died the same way a month before our graduation.

I’m mentally preparing myself for what I have to face over the next few days, and it’s really difficult. Even when my grandmother died unexpectedly, it was different because she was 68 and had serious health problems. But my aunt was 44. She had so much time ahead of her. Right now my whole family is in shambles, and we’re doing out best to be brave, but it’s hard. Aunt Elaine and I were just talking this past Christmas about how hard it was not having my grandmother around for the holidays; this is a much bigger blow than I could ever concieve of.

It helps so much to know that you guys are pulling for me.

Thanks again.

Here’s the link to the article:

oh my. sarah, i’m so sorry. your aunt may have been with you for only a short time physically, however she will be with you always in your heart and mind. i’m glad she was will you during the dark times of your life to help you through. she was a wonderful example of love.


Just read the article. I am so very sorry for you and your uncle.


I want to let you know that the story above moved me beyonf words. Forgive me for my non-eloquence. I am so happy that you had someone as beautiful in you life to give you soe sunshine. She was truly your light at the end of the tunnel. It makes me want to try to be to others as she was to you. If anything does come out of her death, you can take into account how beautifully you described her. I’m sure that she is keeping tabs on you now, and for the rest of your life(if you beleive in that). I am so thankful that you shared her with us.