Sunday, May 2, 2010


Melissa Avrin (at age 18) and her mother Judy (2008)Melissa Avrin (at age 18) and her mother, Judy (2008)

From the NY Times

"When her 19-year-daughter Melissa died after a long battle with bulimia, Judy Avrin chose an unusual way to deal with that death: She made a documentary about it...

Born Dec. 21, 1989, Melissa seemed in her early years to be a happy little girl. Her family lived in Wayne, N.J., and then in Pine Brook, N.J., spending two years in Coral Gables, Fla., in between, where Mr. Avrin was transferred for his work with a specialty chemical company. Melissa did well in school — producing A’s and short stories.

But at age 13, thing started to change. Melissa’s mood darkened; she didn’t want to go to school or do extracurricular activities. She developed stomach problems and constipation. Ms. Avrin took her to a pediatric gastroenterologist who said Melissa probably had an eating disorder. “I reacted the way most parents do: ‘That’s not possible,’ ” Ms. Avrin said. “We didn’t go back to him.”

In the early stages, the Avrins did not really see what was going on, in part because Melissa wasn’t visibly underweight, in part because they didn’t want to. But clues started to show up that were too stark to ignore — logs of cookie dough that disappeared from the freezer along with whole boxes of cookies from the cabinet. Empty pizza boxes. “I found containers with chewed and spit-out food and I’d never heard of that before,” Ms. Avrin tells Dr. Sanders during their filmed interview. “Is that very common?”

Ms. Avrin wrapped the fridge in locks and chains, hid her purse and made sure never to leave money lying around. “It didn’t have to be good junk food — if she wanted to go on a binge, it could be a dozen eggs,” Ms. Avrin said of Melissa. “Anything that wasn’t nailed down, she would eat...”

Melissa and her brother, Andrew (2007)Melissa and her brother, Andrew (2007)

Andrew Arvin sits on a beige couch in a nondescript room, a fruit still-life partly visible on the wall behind him, twisting his fingers while, off-camera, an unseen interviewer prompts him to talk about his sister, Melissa.

“There was no food in the house,” he says, looking off to the side as his eyes fill. “If I went out with friends, I could not bring leftovers home because they would be gone by the next morning.”

Once, he explains, in the middle of a bitterly cold night, he looked out the window and saw Melissa on the curb, going through the garbage. “I went outside and I yelled her name,” he recounts in the interview, his voice breaking. “Just the way she looked back at me — it was so empty, vacant. It was a deer in the headlights, but that doesn’t even explain it.”

Melissa died on May 6, 2009. Cause of death: heart attack due to complications from an eating disorder. Just a few days before, Melissa learned she had been admitted to Emerson College. The official letter of acceptance arrived a week after she died and sits unopened."

Melissa Avrin - Judy Avrin's note"About Someday..." by Judy Avrin (from the Someday website)
(Click to enlarge)

Please visit the NY Times online to read the story in full:

and visit the film's website here:

Melissa (2006)

Someday ...

I’ll eat breakfast.

I’ll keep a job for more than 3 weeks.

I’ll have a boyfriend for more than 10 days.

I’ll love someone.

I’ll travel wherever I want.

I’ll make my family proud.

I’ll make a movie that changes lives.

~ a poem from Melissa's Journal

Below is the trailer from the film, "Someday..."



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abigail said...

This is incredibly sad. She reminds me of myself. I feel soo bad for her family. I hope I dont die like her. R.I.P Sweet Angel <3