A Tribute To My Daughter, Lauren …from her friend Betsy
March 30th, 2012
My LB…. My Angel.
My first memory of her… I’m preparing for my first day of junior golf and for some unexplainable reason – I am nervous. My dad takes me through the cafe and walks me outside to a circle of people. They are adults and one beautiful girl is standing in the circle of them holding a baby. Everyone is talking about the baby, but my eyes are fixed on the girl holding her. She is wearing a searsucker button down polo and khaki shorts and I was sure she was much older than me. My dad introduces me to Lauren and tells me that she will be in my group. I was stunned & intimidated that she was my age. Little did I know this girl would become one of my best friends.
That summer, and many to follow, Lauren and I spent our days together at the North Ridge. Pretending to golf, pretending to play tennis and most importantly – enjoying endless days at the pool. Eight years later, its still painful to believe that she is no longer with us. She died March 28th 2004 and I to this day miss her everyday. The blessing is that my memories become more and more vivid with each passing year. Today, I don’t want to focus on the pain, but rather on those beauitful memories. My angel. My friend. The girl who continues to remind me what friendship really is. What it truly means to be, and to have, a friend. And that true friendship last.
She always drove. She got her liscense months before the rest of us, our parents trusted her implicitely, so when she would come to pick us up… we jumped in with a certain expectation of fun. At that time, we frequented Goodberry’s, a local ice cream haven for teenagers. One night after we had picked up our delicious ice-cream concretes and lime rickys (with extra sugar) – Lauren decided that we would play Chinese Fire Drill. I still remember we were at the stop sign at Hunting Ridge & Northridge Dr when she yelled “fire drill” and we all got out and ran and ran around the car. It was a silly thing to do, but what made it hilarious was when we realized that this game is supposed to be played at stopLIGHTS not stop SIGNS or the game would never end. I remember we just laughed and laughed at ourselves.
She could make you smile on your worst day. I remember the day Molly broke up with her highschool boyfriend. Her first call was to Lauren, who promptly jumped into her car and rushed over. I believe they called me after Lauren was already there, but before long we were crying laughing at Lauren’s renactment of Laurens drive over. Molly sounded so upset and the first song that came on her radio in the car was “Jump” by Matchbox 20. You’d have to see and hear her say it, but she would say “just hold on Molly – I’m coming” and the three of us just rolled in laughter. Heartbreak to laughter in a blink… if she was your friend, she had that power.
One of the many things we had in common was our love of sleep. When we slept over at her moms, she would always wake us up and entice us to be productive. But when we slept over at her dads… we could sleep in as long as we wanted. At her dads house she had this white down comforter… we both wore our make up to bed so lord only knows how they kept that clean, but I remember begging my mom to buy me one too. That way when Lauren slept at my house, we could be just as cozy as at her dads… the only problem was that my mom also liked to force us up at the ungodly hour of 12pm to drive us to the country club to be productive during our summer days.
Lauren went to Ravenscroft for the majority of our friendship. This was up until the brink of our Junior year, when me and Kristen Souza confinced her mother to allow Lauren to transfer to Millbrook. To this day, I cannot imagine what our argument was that won over her parents… but the first day of Junior year, Lauren was a fellow wildcat. I remmeber thinking that this was my highest accomplishment. I knew that she would make a splash at school…and that she did. Instantly our other classmates took to her… wanted to be her friend, fell in love with her… but she somehow managed to make everyone feel important. Never the one to think to highly of herself, she made friends with people from all groups, all classes and I was proud to call her my friend. We’d walk down the halls arm and arm. Instant nd well deserved popularity.
Sometimes, her mom would leave town for the weekend and her brother Kyle was in charge of us. We never had any kind of “party” but a select few of us were allowed to sleep over. We would sit on Beverly’s back porch listening to Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Solider of Love – and just laugh. Thats really some of my favorite memories, nothing specific, just sitting on her back porch on hot summer nights… laughing. Always laughing
She hated movies. Didn’t have the attention span for them, but there was one movie I remember we watched all the way through. I remember because it may have been one of the only movies in my friendship with Lauren we didn’t have to turn off 30 mins into it. Stepmom. It was sad… but also cute as could be. In the end, Julia Roberts (a photographer in the movie) had blown up all these photos of her step kids and their mom, who had passed of cancer. She made life-sized cut outs. It was a really sweet ending to sad movie. The song that played during this scene was “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”. One day driving about town with Lauren, the song came on the radio. I still remember that it was on a station that didn’t quite get the signal and so the song was staticy. Nonetheless… lauren rolled her windows down and blared the song. It was just the two of us. She did her signature car hopping move and I just thought it was hilarious. The memory is ingrained in my soul. I even remember the intersection… There was a homeless man standing on the side and at the red light Lauren gave him a bottled water, a piece of gum and a few cents in change. I thought that was amazing.
Four years later, I would be driving with my mother to her memorial, so deeply saddened by the shock of her death that all of my precious memories escaped my mind. My mom said that it was my hearts way of protecting itself. I couldn’t remember anything other than her face and voice, even though there was ten years of friendship there. Ten years of summers, of beach trips and sleepovers… I couldn’t remember a single thing. Until we came up to this stoplight. There in front of me I was facing the site where Lauren’s memorial would take place and the song that had played over static came rushing to my memory. It was the same intersection. My memories rushed over me and I still remember eight years later the feeling of her prescense there with me.
The last year of college everyone is tying up loose ends, finishing up school and saying goodbye to college friends. We all knew that we’d circle back around home and be together again, so our highschool friends took a temporary back seat to the last year before graduation. I remember saying aloud that I needed to call Lauren… I was living at the beach and couldn’t remember the last time we had talked. A week later was her accident. I will live with the regret of not making that phone call the rest of my life. However since her death, I can say in true honesty – I believe our friendship has strengthened. At her memorial, her mother told us all to roll down our windows on pretty days and turn up our radio and think of Lauren. I do that at least once a week to this day. When the sky is blue, I roll my windows down, let the wind sweep my hair and I sing with Lauren like I used to when we were teenagers. It never fails that it brings a smile and a feeling of comfort to me.
On April 15th 2010 I lost another dear friend to Melanoma. That of course is another story, but I had been saving this little note all of my highschool girlfriends wrote to each other on the last day of school. It had been folded up in a tiny box for exactly 10 yrs and I had never once opened it. I knew Lauren had written me something and for some reason I was saving it for the time when I knew I’d need it. On the day of Amanda’s funeral, I decided that was the day I needed it. I opened up the note, read all the sweet things my friends had said… and got to Lauren’s. She wrote “Can’t wait to visit you at ECU and I hope that John Marnell falls madly in love with you back”. He was my highschool crush and she would have loved to watch him on the reality show he just wrapped up about being a music star. It gave me a smile and a laugh on a day that I really didn’t think I had either in me.
On Jan 7th 2012, my husband and I were nearly killed by a drunk driver. The details of this night are still too painful to write about. However, that night, while out with friends, a band played and people danced. I was one of the people dancing, when amongst them, on the dance floor I spotted a girl that looked so much like Lauren I stopped in my tracks. I walked over to my husband, pointed her out and just watched her with a smile. She probably thought I was a very strange person, but I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. I hadn’t seen someone so closely resemble Lauren and I just soaked it up.
Hours later, I was on my knees thanking God and my angels for saving my life. Lauren, was right there with me. You can call it what you want… there is no way for me to give you solid proof my friend was there with me. I felt her arm on my shoulder, I felt her warmth. I felt her calm and I felt her prescense just like I had every sleepover, beach trip and summer day together. I felt her real as anything else I have ever known. I even remember a few moments of quiet laughter I cannot, especially under these very grimm circumstances, explain. It was just the same silly laughter we shared when running through the sprinklers when we were supposed to be focusing on our drive in junior golf. My friend was there with me. My friend was there to save my. My friend was there reminding me, she is not far.
Thank you Lauren for our amazing friendship while you were on this earth and even after you passed on. Thank you for teaching me how about friendship, for giving me my sense of humor & for showing me that death does not mean an end to relationships or love. Thank you for all that you have been and all that you continue to be to me. I love you friend.
Thank you, Betsy