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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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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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!

More Yoga on the Beach

This is from Team Lola’s Facebook page

From Maya:

Lola, your life is an inspiration. Thank you for helping me live life to the fullest. I know this was already done but here is one for your beautiful bucket list, YOGA ON THE BEACH!

Thank you Maya!!! #LolasBucketList #LoveLikeLola

Maya doing yoga on the beach for Lola <3
Maya doing yoga on the beach for Lola ❤

Get MORE tattoos

We met Tamara and her daughter Marti, who is fighting CML, at the Stupid Cancer OMG Summit back in April. There was an automatic connection! We stayed with them while we were in OC/LA and the girls bonded so quickly and made a life long friendship!

Tamara has a mini white board on her fridge, so of course Lauren had to leave her mark. Marti took that “signature” today and had Dan Smith, of Captured Tattoo in Tustin, tattoo it on her.

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We met Brad and his parents in Reno through NNCCF. Brad is a cancer survivor. Lola and he became friends over text messaging and social media. He designed a tattoo in her honor as well as getting one similar to the infinity sign she had her on wrist.

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Thank you Marti and Brad. Lola would be so amazed and humbled, as we, her family, are ❤