Remembering Lill 10 years later

Eric Chason will read from 'Breathless' on Friday night

By Josh Bickford
Posted 11/14/19

Eric Chason wants to tell people about his daughter, Lillian.

He wants to tell them about how funny she was, and about how smart she was, and about how strong she was. He wants people to know how …

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Remembering Lill 10 years later

Eric Chason will read from 'Breathless' on Friday night

Posted

Eric Chason wants to tell people about his daughter, Lillian.

He wants to tell them about how funny she was, and about how smart she was, and about how strong she was. He wants people to know how brave his daughter was when she left for college in North Carolina, moving to an unfamiliar place despite knowing that her eyesight was failing.

Mr. Chason even wants to tell people about that horrible day in December, 2009, when Lillian passed away — about a month after being diagnosed with the H1N1 flu.

"The story, to me, is very powerful, and I want to share it," he said, during a recent interview. "It doesn't help the loss, but it feels good to have her story out there… to have people know about her."

Mr. Chason shares his daughter's story in a memoir titled "Breathless" which draws heavily from a journal Mr. Chason kept during his daughter's month-long battle with the flu. He will read from the book during a special event at Barrington Books on Friday night, Nov. 15, at 6 p.m.

"I like talking about Lill," Mr. Chason said. "It was an incredible thing she went through. It makes me feel better to have people know that."

Remembering Lill

Mr. Chason said many people in Barrington may recall news of his daughter getting sick during her freshman year in college and later passing away. But, he added, most people had no idea Lill was going blind. 

Mr. Chason said his daughter had been experiencing problems with her eyesight for years, and when she was 16 years old she was diagnosed. The disease was slowly and steadily stealing away her eyesight, Mr. Chason said. 

In high school, she worked very hard to overcome challenges, and when it came time for college she decided to attend UNC-Chapel Hill. 

"We were so happy for her," Mr. Chason said. 

Lill adjusted quickly to college life and was excelling — she even landed a lead role in a school play. But on Nov. 20, 2009 she started to feel bad. Mr. Chason said Lill was feeling pain in her eyes and went to see her eye doctor. She thought the discomfort may be related to her disease. 

Mr. Chason said his daughter was actually relieved to hear her doctor tell her that the pain was not related to her eye disorder, but rather she was getting the flu. The illness, however, was relentless. She later went to health services on campus and was greeted by a packed waiting room.

Mr. Chason said the flu was widespread at that time, with dozens of students diagnosed. Lill was told to take some Aleve and sent back to her dorm room, Mr. Chason said. 

"Breathless" begins with those first few days of Lill's battle with the flu, a narrative shared in vivid detail from a journal Mr. Chason kept. At the time, Mr. Chason recorded each day's events, thinking that he would some day be able to tell Lill of her courageous battle. 

"Until the last day … we really thought she would get better," he said. 

Now he hopes people can read the memoir and better understand his daughter. He also hopes people understand how dangerous the flu can be, and get a flu shot each year. 

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