A Remembrance of a Dear Friend

In the musical “The Story of My Life”, it is said that a eulogy is a collection of stories, with a tear-jerker at the end. This is a eulogy for a dear, dear, friend, Lauren Uroff (ixixlix), who died last night of complications related to cancer, at a bit over 50 years old.

Karen and Lauren, 1999

When I think of Lauren, I think of “large”. Yes, she was large in body, but that’s not what I mean. She was large in spirit. She loved things and people with a passion, and when you were cared about, you knew you were cared about. I met Lauren when my wife rediscovered her at Gymboree with her son, who was born two weeks before my daughter. Karen and Lauren had been college friends, and the friendship reestablished. From that point on, our families were intertwined, and we care about them as part of us. Here are some recollections and thoughts that just keep pouring through my head.

Lauren loved books, especially science fiction and Jane Austin. Lauren and Scott’s house is loaded with bookshelves and paperbacks, multiple levels deep. I know at one time she was active in LASFS, and she was very active on science fiction writing boards such as sff.net. Books were to be treated with care, and were precious things.

Lauren loved games. Before she started dealing with her cancer, we were regularly over at their house playing all sorts of board games. We introduced her to “Ticket to Ride”; she introduced us to “Set”. We brought in “Power Grid”; she introduced “Munchkin”. We played all sorts of games, and she was a regularly at our New Years Eve gaming parties.

Lauren was a closet roadgeek. She loved exploring my highways site, and asking me questions. She indicated that she loved to just find a state highway and explore it—for example, I remember she once talked about taking Route 166 in Ventura County to see where it went.

Lauren was a cook, something she shared with my wife, and our dear friend Nicole (ellipticcurve). They did cooking classes at the Huntington together. They went to the cheese shop in Beverly HIlls (well, they did, Nicole didn’t :-)). They loved Penzey’s spices. On gaming evenings we would often be cooking together (together with Scott, Lauren’s husband), and enjoy shared dinners.

Lauren enjoyed gardening, both of flowers and vegetables. She had a raised vegetable bed in her backyard, and often contributed fresh herbs to dinner.

Lauren loved dogs, especially Newfoundlands. Now, these aren’t small dogs, mind you. I never met their first Newfie, but I do remember Rocky, who died a little over a year ago. I remember Lauren told me she loved to talk to Rocky; he always provided a good ear for her, and rarely spoke back.

Lauren loved children. Two in particular: her son, Jim, and our daughter, Erin. In their younger days, the two were inseperable (as were their moms). Although we never went on trips together (as my folks did with the extended family of their generation), we went on numerous outings: museums, amusement parks, explorations. We had shared birthday parties at their house, and Lauren just enjoyed it.

Although she didn’t go that often, Lauren loved the arts. We went together numerous times to the Hollywood Bowl, and she came with us occasionally to the Ahmanson. She regularly commented on my theatre reviews. She also loved going to art museums with Karen and Erin.

Mentioning the Ahmanson reminded me of another memory: dim sum. Lauren loved to go out for dim sim to Empress Pavillion in Chinatown. We would always go to the store downstairs and pay homage to the ugly fountain. It was a regular, fun, Sunday morning. The last dim sum run I remember was in December, when we were going to go see “Mary Poppins.”

Lauren was a crafter. She wove, and her living room was filled with a gigantic loom. She loved knittingand crocheting. I think a favorite pastime of hers was sitting with Karen, each working on a project, chatting away the afternoon.

Lauren loved her music. We introduced her to artists, but she would never rip my music and return the CD. She was scrupulously honest, and believed fiercely that artists should be paid for their artistic work. We would buy albums copies for her. If she wanted my music, she’d borrow the CDs and listen to them for a while, and then return them.

Lauren was a fellow computer security expert. For many years she reviewed tutorials for me for ACSAC, and regretted she could never attend a conference. Before she got sick, she was thinking about getting her CISSP, but the big C got in the way.

Lauren was a true and dear friend. We could always count on her to be there for us, whatever the problem. Be it lending an ear, attending one of Erin’s performances, picking someone up, helping us through a catastrophe—Lauren was there. As she was battling the cancer, we did our best to be there for her. Even though she is physically gone, the relationship hasn’t changed. Her family and our family are connected at the hip—anything that Scott or Jim needs, we’re there for them. We will never forget her.

Coda: Before I could post this, I had to run off to go help my daughter, and then to a temple event. While talking to my daughter over dinner, she indicated that Lauren always made her think of a butterfly. As I drove home from temple, my iPod (having the mind that it does) played the song “Butterfly” from “The Story of My Life”. This song tells the story of a tiny butterfly, talking to the water and the wind. From these discussions, the butterfly learns that the flapping of her wings changes the world. This is how life works: the little things you do and the people you touch change the world. At the end of the song, the butterfly flys free, confident in the knowledge that she has changed the world. Lauren: You can rest easy. You have left lots and lots and lots and lots of good behind, and you will continue to give good from the people that you have touched.