Memories Of Carly Henley: “Love Wins”; Plus, Local Memorial Saturday Night

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: On Wednesday, Oct. 6th, 2008 Highline High grad, aspiring musician and UW student Carly Henley was found dead behind a frat house in the U-District, the victim of suicide (read our original report here). Her death had a major impact on many residents. An Open Mic Memorial will be held for her Saturday night, Oct. 23rd, at BTB Advertiser Infusion Tea and Coffee, located at 15607 First Ave South in Burien (206-436-8440).]

by Rachel M. Lusby

“In the shower totally counts!” Carly Henley excitedly stated on her website as she recalled her years of singing experience.

Carly had been singing most of her life (in the shower included), and began writing songs and playing guitar within the last couple years.

She picked up the guitar not long after her older brother Bryce David Henley did; about four months after he had been working hard at learning to play the guitar.

In the following video, Bryce said “she was almost instantly better that I had been, after all that work. And I had to give it to her, the girl had talent”:

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By all accounts, Carly was a happy and friendly young woman whose passion for music was only shadowed by her love for people and for the Lord.

Maddie Guidos, 20, was one of Carly’s best friends.

“The name “Carly” should be under the dictionary’s definition for “best friend” because she was the epitome of what anyone could ever want or dream of in a friend,” she said.

Maddie and Carly met in second grade at the bus stop. “I am so thankful for the day she walked into my life, or should I say the day she walked onto my sidewalk in second grade where our bus stop was. I am so proud to say that since that day 13 years ago, I have had Carly Henley as my best friend.”

Maddie said she and Carly had a “profound understanding” with each other and their bond was one which no one else could ever fully comprehend.

“I always said you know you have a true friendship when you don’t need anything but each other,” Maddie said. “Carly and I were always perfectly content with a Friday night consisting of me, her and nothing else. Those were my favorite memories; nights where we’d just sit and talk for hours. We’d have sleepovers but they didn’t ever consist of sleeping. I’d always have to say: ‘Hey Car, it’s 3:30am; we should probably get to bed.’”

“We’d be silent for about two minutes and then end up talking some more,” Maddie recalled.

Christina Marie Storms, 20, said she feels she’s been “touched by an angel” having been granted the privilege of knowing Carly. “She restored faith in so many peoples’ hearts with her unconditional love for the Lord and incredible zest for life.”

Photo of Carly Henley by Kinsey Gross. ([email protected]/)

“Carly was one of the first people I met in high school,” said Christina.

Carly was always the first to greet her with a hug and a smile in the hallway, and always asked her how her day was, she noted.

“I just want to say, Carly Henley was a ray of sunshine, a light in so many lives, one that will burn bright always,” Christina exclaimed. “Though I am unsure who famously said this, a quote came to mind while listening to Carly’s music: “’The fingerprints never fade from the lives you touch.’ I promise you Carly, those fingerprints will never fade away.”

“Friday evening at her candlelight vigil, it was so clear how many fingerprints she’d left behind,” Christina said. “To see so many people gathered in her honor and memory was truly incredible, unbelievable almost. Carly’s life is the biggest inspiration I’ve beheld in a long time and will be the most outstanding one, for certain.”

Jamie Lee Carter, 19, agrees.

“Carly was the friend that you could go days, weeks, months, even years without speaking to, and be able to pick up right where you left off at a moment’s notice,” she said. “I loved her because I knew her love would always remain.”

Carly’s boss from Angelo’s of Burien and 909 Coffee and Wine, Kelly Ricci, feels the same and said Carly was was a “very kind, nice loving person who went out of her way to make other people feel better.”

“Carly was always positive and genuinely interested in everybody and what [they] had to say,” said Kelly. “She’s just a beautiful person inside and out.”

Aaron Jacobson, 20, was one of Carly’s high school classmates and closest friends.

“I had the fattest crush on her,” said Aaron about his best friend. “She’s the most beautiful person I’ve ever met. I thought I was supposed to marry her.”
Aaron met Carly in high school and says their friendship was really cemented their senior year.

“She gave the best hugs,” Aaron said and then laughed at the memory. “She taught me how to hug.”

Aaron stated he had an “awkward” hug, one where he leaned forward very oddly and barely touched whomever he was hugging; he said it was more impersonal.

“What was that?” Aaron said Carly had asked after he gave her one of his “awkward hugs.”

Carly and Aaron were Homecoming King and Queen of their class at Highline High School in 2007/2008.

After high school Carly began attending the University of Washington and Aaron moved to the University District and commuted to Bellevue College.

This is when, Aaron said, their friendship became even tighter. Their close proximity allowed them to spend more time together as friends.

Carly and Aaron did everything and nothing together. They went to concerts and on runs, but they also spent time kicked back doing nothing in particular.

“We went to see John Mayor and Keith Urban together,” Aaron reminisced. “We hid and dodged security guards to get to the front row!”

Photo by Kinsey Gross. ([email protected]/)

Carly was the type of person who thought of everything. Aaron talked of a day when she asked him last minute if he would like to join her on a quick trip to Ellensburg. He was tired, but said yes anyway.

When she arrived to pick him up, she had a full dinner plate for him, because he hadn’t had time to eat.

“She literally thought of things to do out of the kindness of her heart.”

Aaron said when he got his wisdom teeth pulled, and “looked like a chipmunk,” Carly came over just to keep him company.

Carly was as outgoing and shining on the outside as she was on the inside.

When it came to personal style, Carly was eclectic.

“She had her ‘hippy look’,” Aaron said with a grin emerging.

Carly liked to hold her hair back with cloth headbands tied behind her head, occasionally long and flowing dresses, and her “leather satchel purse.”

“She wore jeans a lot,” Aaron said. “And she always rocked the Vans.”

A red, zip-up hoodie often completed her ensemble.

“Her favorite color was probably red.”

Aaron talked about a trip him and Carly and some other friends made to Hawaii. Carly’s family had surprised her with a trip for her birthday, and so about 8 days before leaving, Aaron said, they all got plane tickets.

“We surprised her with an ice cream cake,” Aaron said. “We begged the Baskin Robbins lady to have it ready by 8 p.m.”

Carly was majoring in women’s studies at the UW; a major which Aaron believes was an attempt to follow in her mother’s footsteps in a way.
Her real desire was, however, to pursue a career in music.

“I always told her she would be famous,” Aaron said.

Carly, though, said she just wanted to have an impact on people through her music.

“She did change peoples’ lives, without a doubt,” said Aaron. “She shaped who I am more than she knew. Now that she’s gone, I’m rethinking everything. She was one of those people who made me question how I was going to live the rest of my life without her.”

Aaron stated he is now giving more thought to what his life goals are; what he wants to study, what he wants to accomplish.

Also, Aaron said he wants to get a tattoo that states Carly’s motto on life: “Love wins” with a “C” as the period at the end of the statement.

“Love wins,” Aaron said was something he believes was inspired by John Knox youth group and an adage Carly based her life around.
Carly was a well-recognized face in the city of Burien.

Not only had she attended schools in the Highline District, but she also performed in a number of local locations and had a summer job at 909 Coffee and Wine.

Her family, according to many, was clearly where she got her compassionate personality.

Aaron Jacobson said this type of compassion runs in Carly’s family.

“Her family is great; I can see where she gets it.”

Carly drew inspiration from everything and everyone around her; “the world around me; the sky; the ocean; Seattle; the trees; people I love…” she listed on her website.

Her passion was music and her goal was to make her dream a reality. She loved people and God.

“She truly was God’s angel here on Earth who has and will continue to touch the hearts of many through her music, good-hearted ways, and strong faith,” said Jamie Lee Carter about Carly. “Unlike many people of our age, Carly always knew what was the right thing to do.”

“Six strings down, on a heaven-bound flight,” wrote musician Jimmie Vaughan and other artists about Jimmie’s brother Stevie Ray Vaughan. Just as SRV shared his talent and spirit with the world, Carly wanted to share hers through her own music.

“I love music and sharing my soul with the world,” Carly typed, “and would love nothing more than to pursue this dream of mine.”

Carly’s lyrics praised confidence and had an emphasis on loving one’s self.

This “zest” was portrayed through her inspiring music.

“She’s a real girl, with all her flaws, she’s a real girl, but she’s happy ‘cause she loves the skin she’s in” Carly sang in her track “The Skin You’re In.” “Just know you’re beautiful and one of a kind, too.”

Some people have said Jesus needed a lullaby, and although Carly’s life may have been cut short on Earth, her lullaby lives on in the hearts of those who love her.

“You are such a beautiful, beautiful soul Carly Danielle. I hope you’re having a great time up there,” proclaimed Christina Storms.

Carly’s family and loved ones want to make sure her music continues to inspire other people, and have created “The Carly Henley Project. Love the Skin You’re In.”

The purpose for the project is to record and release all of Carly’s unreleased music.

“We will be taking any and all of her recordings that she had previously started and turn them into finished, complete, studio quality songs. The plan includes giving other artists close to Carly an opportunity to give her music life, as well,” the website noted.

The website for this project says “The Carly Henley Project’ is dedicated in the memory of an exceptional girl who touched the lives of many. Carly Henley left us at the young age of 20, but not before inspiring passion and love into the lives of hundreds of people, young and old alike. She was a shining light in this sometimes dark world, and it is with her light that this project is borne.”

For every donation made over $10 a prize will be rewarded.

A donation of $10 or more will receive a copy of Carly’s latest album; a donation of $30 or more will receive a copy of her CD and a “Love Wins” T-shirt packaged in a Love Wins tote bag. A donation of $75 or more will receive a Love Wins tote bag containing two copies of her album, a Love Wins T-shirt and a special DVD. $125 or more will be given all of the prior gifts with a lyric song book and a personal thank you note. A pledge of $500 will receive everything listed prior and a special invitation to the opening CD release party along with four tickets to The Carly Henley Project Benefit concert. And lastly, a donation of $1000 or more will receive all of the above plus your name in the liner notes of the CD.

The Carly Henley Project site says after the project is complete, all proceeds will go towards two causes Carly would have been passionate about.
“The donations will be passed through “The Carly Henley Project: Love the Skin You’re In,” which will focus on organizations that engage youth in music and art programs, as well as teaching them the importance of embracing who they are.”

Bryce says in the online video the purpose of the Carly Henley Project goes far beyond just the distribution of her music.

“It’s to keep her dream alive, to keep that energy, that music that effect of hearing Carly’s words, keep that growing, to keep that spreading to more and more people,” he says.

For more information on The Carly Henley Project:

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2 Responses to “Memories Of Carly Henley: “Love Wins”; Plus, Local Memorial Saturday Night”
  1. Christine says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about Carly, what a beautiful girl. I will pray for your family. So sorry for your loss.

  2. Stranger says:

    This is a great post, and there needs to be more dialog on the subject.

    I have really been moved by the loss of Carly Henley and I think that the greatest element to that loss seems to be in the area of unrealized potential. Everyone agrees that she had so much in that area…

    Carly’s physical beauty was simply remarkable and to see her surrounded by mere mortals only serves to emphasize her rare appeal that way. Such radiance backed by obvious personal depth made for a high octane combination of the sort with which few could even keep pace. (Carly surrounded, most by women who were at least, thankfully, in her league:

    An insecure girl would undoubtedly be most intimidated by Carly’s exceptional beauty upon first entry into shared environs and it would take weeks, months, or possibly years in order for some to gain confidence that Carly was unlikely to unleash the full of her “Wow!” factor on anybody. In due time, and once an insecure girl might see the truth, she’d realize that Carly was not only all that, but that she offered an earthy persona with considerable depth flattered by her musical talent.

    Carly’s appearance wasn’t first and foremost on her mind merely because it didn’t have to be, and that is the centerpiece to her beauty. It doesn’t matter too much who gets the “10” from the frat boys on a random Friday night when everybody knows that three of the top five scorers in the league are rested and ready on the other side’s bench.

    Carly Henley’s physical beauty was like Zenyatta in the stretch when called upon but she so seldom felt the need to serve aces at anybody and it was often for that reason that others were awed by her.

    The more I think about it, the more it seems Carly got to know some of the greatest feelings one can experience during life. The wide acceptance from people all around, the grand reception from classmates after her performances, the discovery and understanding that she had talent beyond most and a social life that was by most accounts thriving. Obviously this woman left us way too young, but if ever there was a one-through-twenty life to live and enjoy, it may well have been that of Carly D. Henley, 1990-2010.

    I sure couldn’t knock anybody who wants to be like Carly was for most of her life.

    Hopefully Carly’s death can motivate the rest of us to talk openly about depression and about suicide. We as a society are considerably weak on those subjects and Carly Henley’s beauty is the rare medium by which the masses could be inspired to change their ways for the better.

    Rest In Peace, Carly.

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