August 19, 2014.
Dedidicated To The 2016 Summer Olympics.
The pink casket. That is the first and last thing I’ll take with me.
The waiting room. Really, a mansion that was conformed into a private
Eating Disorder Clinic.
It was an issue of
People Magazine. I recognized the letter head right away.
I thought to myself, ‘A scare tatic. Might as well have been playing a
I squinted under the dim
Tiffany Lamp, the name I read quickly was of a Christy Henrich.
Never heard of her I said within.
The Funeral appeared early, devastating.
But, that’s not Me.
Twelve years later.
A copy of Little Girls in Pretty Boxes by Joan Ryan landed on my desk, the name Christy Henrich appeared once again.
I was startled as if a ghost knocked on my conscious.
There she was. Her story from almost Olympian to death by Anorexia-Nervosa.
She was twenty-two.
I read the novel unbiased, in control, and with quiet sadness.
A name I was familiar with,
A 1978 Soviet Olympian who became a Quadriplegic after breaking her neck during a training exercise of what is called the ‘Thomas Salto.’
But, the truth?
She had a severe leg injury(broken left leg in 1979), and she was still ordered to perfom.
*She passed away in 2006 at the age of forty-six from complications of being a Quadriplegic.
Elena Mukhina at her athletic finest.
A promising young U.S Olympian.
Excerpt from Little Girls in Pretty Boxes,
“During warmups for the final, held on May 5, 1988, Gomez continued to practice the Yurchenko. As she raced toward the vault on one of her practice runs, her foot slipped off the springboard and her head hit the vaulting horse at high speed. The resulting impact instantly paralyzed her from the neck down.” Joan Ryan
*The Doctors in Japan accidentally disconnected her breathing tube.
This led to a permanent
Julissa Gomez passed away in 1991.
She was eighteen.
In 1988, a Judge told her she was fat and would never make the Olympics.
She missed the 1989 Summer Olympics by literally a fraction of a point.
That was what become of Christy.
She truly felt that she failed as a
Gymnast due to her ‘weight.’
She was only forty-six pounds when she passed.
I hear these little girls saying please, don’t break me, don’t throw me away.
*There are many more tales in Ryan’s novel. How heartbreaking to know these girls were just commodity, political chess pieces for gold medals.
After racing to complete my one day read, I am sure of one thing:
The people responsible: Coaches, Judges, Manufacturers, should be charged with MURDER.
That pink casket.
Twelve years ago, that could have been me.
*I’m in full recovery from a twelve year battle with Anorexia-Nervosa, including time at an Outpatient Program and Years of Transpersonal Therapy.