Stanford undergraduate Cady Jeanne Hine died of an undisclosed accident at her home in Palo Alto on April 1 at the age of 24. A junior English major, Hine battled severe bipolar disorder, drug addiction and grief over her mother’s suicide, which led her to take multiple leaves of absence. An op-ed by University staff last month (“Another loss,” April 17) noted Hine’s contributions to improving mental health on campus through the founding of Stanford Peace of Mind (SPOM). Hine’s close friends and classmates reflected on her impact on their lives, painting a picture of a wild, selectively honest, fiercely loyal and trusting friend.
‘She always did weird very well’
Edwin Smolski ’07 described his first encounter with Hine at Stanford Hospital and commented on Hine’s tendency to disregard social propriety in favor of saying what was on her mind.
“I remember that she would say things that you’d think were inappropriate,” Smolski said. “But people would always crack up when she would say them, but [her words] were a little bit more than that.”
“She was the kind of friend…[who] had a huge presence,” said Helena Bonde ’12. “She’d come into your life and she’d just grab hold of it. She was never one for holding anything back.”
Bonde met Hine in 2008, when the latter returned to Stanford to finish her last quarter of Structured Liberal Education (SLE) after taking multiple leaves of absence. The two bonded over shared experiences of familial loss and grief.
“Normally I’m afraid that even talking about the troubles I’ve had in the past or in the present is just going to alienate other people,” Bonde said. “But with Cady it was the opposite — it brought us closer together.”
Smolski recalled that following the death of her mother, Hine displayed an urn with her mother’s ashes wherever she was living, allowing guests to open it and view the ashes.
“She made me see a different kind of reverence that wouldn’t necessarily follow the lines of what people would normally see…I feel that really made me think about the preconceived notions I had in terms of loss and grief and feeling difficult things, what’s appropriate and what’s not,” Smolski said.
Hine was also known for her sharp wit and adventurous spirit.
“There was always some adventure she would lead us on,” said Jack Cackler ’09, a SLE classmate. “She just had a zest for life and an enthusiasm that was kind of fun to be around.”
Hine’s free-spiritedness made her an irreplaceable friend.
“If Cady couldn’t hang out with you, there was no one else who would fit that role,” said Leah Calvo ’09, who befriended Hine during their freshman year. “It was like, ‘Oh crap, no Cady. Who else do I call? I don’t know anyone who would enjoy that show or enjoy that movie.’”
“She always did weird very well [and was] very comfortable with people who didn’t fit [into] other people’s categories,” Calvo added.
‘Protecting her own’
While Hine’s friends remembered her bluntness about voicing her thoughts, they recalled fondly that not everything she said was true. Prone to exaggerations and half-truths, Hine’s provocative proclamations often served as a means of protection for herself and more often, for others.
“Cady wasn’t ‘truthy,’” Calvo said. “She didn’t shy away from something that had to be said but there were times when she had the gall to say things that were outrageous and openly nonfactual, but she would do it to protect her own.”
During Hine’s residency in Enchanted Broccoli Forest (EBF), she was known for keeping pet chinchillas in her room against housing regulations.
“There was a fire alarm one day, she ran outside of the house and had them clutched to her chest to save them… She would have felt terrible if they died, but there was no fire. Stanford Housing sent out their person to see if there was really a fire. Cady had more gall than anyone I ever knew — the housing guy came up and was like ‘Are those animals?’ at point blank range, and she just looked into his eyes and said, ‘Stuffed animals,’” Calvo recalled.
“She never got reported,” Calvo said. “I don’t think she had to get rid of them.”
Calvo then recounted the tale of Hine’s year in Escondido Village’s (EV) ‘couples with children’ housing, during her brief engagement to a student she met at Foothill College.
“They came up with a story to get family housing — that she was pregnant,” said Arthur Alvarez, a Stanford undergraduate whom Hine listed as her Stanford emergency contact after befriending him during her freshman year. “Her real baby was three or four chinchillas and two rabbits.”
Calvo said that by June, when Housing discovered Hine’s ruse, Hine had ended her engagement and was renting out her EV apartment to a UC student. Stanford Housing then terminated her contract.
‘Anything to survive’
Hine’s friends described her dark sense of humor, but also said that her willingness to help anyone in need and her struggles with personal tragedy were challenges for Hine.
According to Bonde, Hine was severely bipolar and struggled with heroin addiction.
“I know that there were drugs at times and I know that some of that very well may have been self-medicating for some of the pain and trauma she’d been through,” Calvo said, noting that she and her mother, a doctor, once helped Hine research and check into a rehabilitation facility.
Bonde said Hine had been clean for almost two years by the time of her death.
Alvarez said Hine was adamant about coming back to Stanford the fall following her mother’s death instead of taking time off.
“I thought that was very brave of her,” he said, commenting on Hine’s coping strategies. “Her way of coping was through humor, which was fine but awkward for some.”
Calvo shared an example of this black humor — when Hine revealed to her that she had attempted suicide on campus.
“The way she said it was ‘Yeah, I tried to hang myself, but my roommate walked in,’” Calvo recalled. “She made that so funny. It was basically like ‘Duh, I tried to kill myself and it failed.’ She always made me laugh about the darkest things.”
Bonde said that even during times of suicidal thoughts, Hine reached out for help.
“Even when she attempted suicide, she did everything else first,” Bonde said. “She went and got help, she knew about the resources on campus and she took advantage of them.”
Philip Vuong, a former Stanford student and a close friend of Hine, said that Hine ‘would do whatever it takes to survive,’ including a series of odd jobs to support her attendance at Stanford.
“She was a stripper — she whipped men for a living — she worked as a dominatrix,” Vuong said.
Alvarez recounted going with his partner, Smolski, and Hine to strip clubs in the area for auditions, laughing nostalgically at the memory.
“Her big thing was always ‘How do I fund myself?’” Alvarez said. “I do not know how she got away with a lot of things she did.”
Alvarez and Calvo noted with humor more of Hine’s odd jobs.
“She also worked as a fairy princess for children’s parties,” Calvo said. “She was so beautiful — the girls always loved her.”
Calvo said that Hine often tried to take care of others, even at the expense of her own well-being. Calvo, Bonde, Alvarez and Vuong all noted that people frequently took advantage of Hine’s trust.
“She would run in and was always ready to make a difference and always ready to help people who had been through bad things,” Calvo added. “Sometimes she overstretched her capacity in helping people — or she would help them so much that she would be off balance,” she added.
‘Absurdly lucky to have known her’
None of Hine’s close friends who spoke with The Daily were seriously involved with SPOM. Most commented that her legacy with the student group is likely the same as in their circle of friendship.
“Especially at the funeral, I just heard a lot of people say things like ‘Cady made me feel like it was okay for me to talk about this or that,’” Bonde said.
“She lived life in the moment and made her decisions as she went along,” Alvarez said. “She didn’t apologize very much.”
Vuong held that Hine was not a ‘martyr’ for mental health.
“I don’t want her to be remembered as a mental health case,” Vuong said, recounting a conversation he and Hine had on his last birthday. “I asked her the meaning of her life. ‘Have fun, enjoy the ride. Sleep around, do drugs.’ It was a funny answer.”
“[She was] a little wild, erratic. She didn’t have the most stable life, but she definitely had one of the more interesting lives I knew,” Calvo said. “I feel so lucky to have known her — absurdly lucky. I don’t think I’ll ever meet someone like that again — someone who is so free, yet so haunted at the same time.”