On Saturday, I celebrated the life of my friend Laura with her art, a lifetime of photographs and about 400 other people who each have their own stories of the way Laura affected their lives.
After eight-and-a-half months of fighting melanoma, Laura passed away on Oct. 24. The funeral was not a funeral, but a definite celebration of life — in complete Laura and Grant fashion. Her artwork hung all around the Grand Ballroom at Wine & Roses for all to see. At the garden entrance and inside with her art, Grant displayed photos I’d taken of Laura that he had enlarged and printed on canvas. It was all incredible. She was always pushing me to show more of my photos, and I can’t help but smile to think that even now, she is forcing me to put myself out there. I only wish she could have seen it; she would have loved seeing both of our work there, so perfectly together.
The entire celebration was beautiful. Looking around the room of full tables and the crowds standing in the back and along the walls, it was overwhelming to see the love of Laura and support for her family. Family and friends’ emotional, heartfelt, funny and loving words made us all laugh and cry. It was hard, but helpful, in a way. Through Laura, I’ve met so many wonderful people who have also become friends, perhaps even stronger friends since we’ve all laughed and cried together so much these last few weeks and months. As we sat around the empty ballroom for hours after the celebration, I just imagined Laura smiling on all of her separate friends who are now joined together and share something very special: a love of Laura.
I thought that this celebration would make this whole experience seem a little more real. But it hasn’t. I still read her texts from one month ago — where she talks about going into work for a few hours and craving a burger from Al’s Place in Locke. It’s as if she just them to me. I think back to the first day we met, that beautiful artist who was worried about having her picture taken but had gifts for Jen and I anyway. I think of little things, like her showing me how to use shoe polish as paint and picking me up to go thrift store shopping. And when I realize those things are never going to happen again, that’s when I get that jittery, panic in my bones that sends a weakening surge to every part of my body. I suppose one day it will really click, but I don’t know when. I’m thankful for all of the great memories I will never forget, and for all of the people who are now in my life because of our Laura connection.
But I do want to share some photos from before the celebration of life. I promised several people who couldn’t be there that I would take pictures, though I put my camera away once guests started arriving. It all came together so beautifully and Laura’s artwork is truly one of a kind. Enjoy.
Along with programs, we handed out fliers for the Liz and Laura Foundation. Liz is Gran’t mother who died several years ago from cancer. That is her pictured on the flier with Laura. Everyone commented that they shared a likeness.