Eighteen …

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” – Kahlil Gibran

Today should be a day of celebration, but I am finding it hard to find reasons to celebrate. My husband is very cynical. Being raised by elders in his family, he sometimes has the “grumpy old man” mentality. I used to find it funny. Now, it makes me sad. But today, I understand. After losing someone so precious to me, it is hard to find the joy, day after day, in life. And please don’t tell me “live for yourself, live for Tyler, blah blah”, because honestly that is not what my grief is really about. My grief started the day that Lauren was diagnosed and I will carry it to my grave. My grief is not only about Lauren’s death, but also the friends I have lost along the journey. My grief is about what she will be missing out on. And it is about the suffering.

A birthday letter to Lauren:

My beautiful baby girl,

I woke up at 5:51am this morning. In Texas, that would have been the exact time you were born. Did you think I would forget? I know you have kept a close eye on me because I feel you all around, especially when you take over the radio. I still cannot believe that you are not here on your 18th birthday.  This last year has been full of heartache, watching your friends start their senior year, go to homecoming and prom, and graduation coming up. I am so sorry that you are not here to enjoy this with them. I know that you keep a close eye on them as well. ❤

So tonight, for your birthday, we are going to see Pitch Perfect 2 and tomorrow, a murder mystery dinner. I took three days off, so its a weekend of celebration! I also have a session planned out for a new tattoo, memorializing your beautiful face. I know you will be so excited when you see it. I’ll probably eat lots of Taco Bell this weekend and promise to find joy wherever I am and to #lovelikelola every single day. Without you in my heart, I would never be able to do this. Ly.

Arrivederci bebe

The quote above has so many different meanings to me. I have seen both emotional and physical suffering first hand. I never really knew what it felt to “die a little inside” until the day she took her last breath. The emotional fog that has followed the last two years has been nothing short of self preservation. I almost never lose it in public anymore. It is when I am alone that memories come flashing in. I find solace in nature but the overwhelming sense to cry is always there in the back of my throat. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be.

She would be happy that Jim and I are finally finding love again. It was a difficult four years. Somedays it is still a struggle, but we manage, together. We are making time for each other and making plans for our future.

If you are reading this, it means that Lauren has touched your life in some way. Please honor her memory. #LoveLikeLola every single day.

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Happy Dia De Los Muertos

You can check out pics of Lauren’s altar for Dia de los Muertos/Day of the Dead (a Mexican holiday –  folklore/tradition says that the gates of Heaven open at midnight on November 1st for all the children that have died to be reunited for the day with their loved ones. The following day, the adults come down to earth to celebrate) at the link below on Tumblr.

Dia de los Muertos – Lauren’s ofrenda (altar)

Lola’s Bucket List – Run the NYC Marathon

While this wasn’t exactly on the list, I know that it would have been something that Lauren would have loved to have added to #LolasBucketList

Our dear friend Scott ran with #FlatLola on the back of his cape, “On the wings of an Angel” ❤ in her memory ❤

My friends never cease to amaze me! Thank you Scott! xoxo

#LoveLikeLola #TeamStupidCancer

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Lola’s Bucket List – Get My Port Removed

Nancy is my hero. While we weren’t able to physically make it to Florida back in July for NB to help us out with #LolasBucketList, she continues to amaze me by crossing more and more items off the list.

Lauren wanted to get her port removed so badly. Though I tried to avoid the conversation, she knew deep down that it would be 1) too dangerous for her to go under any general anesthesia to remove the port and 2) we might (and we did) need to use it to administer medication at some point.

Thank you Nancy for taking Lola along with you!

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Highlight Video from Lola’s Celebration

Tuesday marked two months since Lola passed away (GOD I hate that term, but “died” isn’t a word I will EVER use because she DID NOT die). The days are longer than ever and I often find myself lost and confused. It still seems very surreal. I tried to unpack and reorganize all of her stuff and I got as far as opening the lid of the first box. I’m not ready.

I am still getting messages from complete strangers on how Lola touched their life or my favorite, testimonials that she has been visiting more people than just me ❤

My mom will be going back to Texas soon and I hope to get a part time job before she leaves. I am not afraid of being here in the house alone, but others are … go figure. So between the creation of The Love Like Lola Foundation and a part time job to take up my time should be just what the doctor ordered for my own personal grieving process. I am so psyched about getting started on the foundation and carrying on Lauren’s legacy, something she was very passionate about.

Below is the video link to the “highlight” slideshow of Lauren’s Celebration of Life … better late than never right? =) As far as I can tell, the video is NOT available via mobile (sorry, copyright infringement issues on the song I chose to play at the end). It will be best viewed on your laptop or PC. Thank you to everyone who came out to honor Lauren. The Celebration was amazing and literally standing room only. A special thank you goes out to both Erin McHugh and Allison Pack for organizing the #EatLikeLola potluck and to everyone who brought one of Lauren’s favorites food items. (We are STILL eating pudding cups!!!) I’d also like to thank Nicole, Alyssa, Sierra, Lexi and Jason for your GREAT “Lola stories” and kind words and Avery and Eldon for their beautiful performances. We were so touched by all of you.

Tribute Video

Below is the tribute video that we played during Lauren’s Celebration of Life — it was originally about 50 minutes long, so I have broken it down to three different videos. I know they are long (about 15 mn each) but so worth it. I really worked hard on getting the right music to go along with the pics. Enjoy =)

Part 3 may not be available (as of this writing) via mobile because of music copyright laws. I have disputed it (usually resolves within 24 hours or sooner). So if you can’t view via your iPad or smartphone, please check back later or change over to your computer/laptop to view.

I will be posting pics and video of the celebration itself after I get everything in one place and have some time to compile it all.

#LoveLikeLola

Swim With Dolphins

Thanks again to Nancy Beth, who marked another item off of #LolasBucketList and honored her on the day of her Celebration of Life by swimming with the dolphins at Atlantis!

Nancy Beth and #FlatLola swimming with the dolphins at Atlantis
Nancy Beth and #FlatLola swimming with the dolphins at Atlantis
Nancy Beth and #FlatLola swimming and loving on the sea lion
Nancy Beth and #FlatLola swimming with and loving on the sea lion
Spa day with #FlatLola and Nancy Beth at Atlantis
Spa day with #FlatLola and Nancy Beth at Atlantis

Thank you NB for always remembering to #LoveLikeLola and for honoring Lauren’s memory by helping her with complete her bucket list. You are an amazing and awesome friend!