When the good die young. Laura's story.

Laura Hansen

I have a lot of acquaintances, not a lot of friends. That’s by design. So losing a friend makes the loss that much more tragic. My good friend Laura Hansen died suddenly on March 31. She was just 50. Way too young to leave this world. She wasn’t sick, at least not that I knew. She apparently had a heart attack and died in her sleep. The exact details are unknown. What we do know is that she talked to a handful of friends and complained of back pain and shortness of breath. She didn’t go to the doctors. She didn’t believe in Western medicine.

Understandably, her family is in shock. They were very close. Always a caregiver, Laura’s mother had been ill and Laura was spending a lot of time between her own home and the rehab facility caring for her mother. For her family, I’m sure that the loss is unbearable. I haven’t talked to them, but I can feel the heartache. I remember my own when my mother died at 45. The loud wailing of my grandmother’s cries, my dad’s nightly sobs. Three years later my brother died at age 25. I don’t think there’s any greater sadness than loosing a son or daughter.

How do we go on? My mother always said that life is for the living. Like Laura, she loved life. She never expected to die young and she would want us to celebrate her life as she did everyday.

Laura was an old soul—wise beyond her years. Spiritual. She knew and believed life is temporary. She visited yogis. She believed in spiritual guides and spoke of her own, with whom she communicated through a pendulum she fondly called “pendy”. If Laura thought you could handle the “woo-woo” discussion, she’d happily share her thoughts and offer guidance and advice. She never went anywhere without her pendy and if you were lucky, she’d pull it out of her purse and ask her guide to answer important questions, offer words of wisdom and affirmation.

After meeting Laura, I bought my own pendulum. Trying to make sense out of Laura’s death, I recently asked the pendulum if Laura knew how much we missed her. It answered with an emphatic yes.

Laura Hansen

Laura was a larger-than-life character. She had a twinkle in her eye, a contagious smile, and a brilliant wit. Her heart was the size of the sea.

Her circle was broad. An avid foodie, she dined out weekly with friends, family and enjoyed masterful cooking for herself at home. She wrote an award-winning blog, BestoftheBestDiningChicago.com and contributed to the Chicago Examiner. Food and writing were just two of her passions. She posted her location on Twitter as “Planet, World, Chicago.” Her bio simply says foodie, writer, painter, direct marketer, and networker.

About Laura and me
I was a relative newcomer to Laura’s circle. I met her a few years ago at a press event. I was the first publicist to recognize her blog and treat Laura as a journalist. There was an immediate attraction. We spent hours on the phone. She was blogging and understood the under-the-hood technology. I was eager to learn and asked her if she’d spend some time teaching me. At the time, I didn’t know how much Laura loved to help people. She was happy to oblige and we set a date. I was so excited. I spent days reading about blogs and, by the time that we met, I had already set up my business blog, Got Buzz @ Kurman. Laura had created a blogging fool. She often joked with me about it.

There was something about Laura that was familial. I felt like we had always known each other. I couldn’t wait for her to meet my husband, Lee. He joined me in my business after we were married. His background was in marketing and publishing technology and for some reason, I thought that the two would get along. They could talk tech. Little did I know, that was an understatement.

Laura and Lee finally met about a month later at another press event. I seated them together while I was running about being the host. What happened next was amazing.

Laura turned to Lee and said: Lee Barrie, I have three words for you, Group W Cable. As it turned out, they had both worked together at Group W Cable of Chicago in the ‘80s. Lee often talked of his work at the Six Corners office. Laura and Lee hung out together. They were good friends and they shared a lot of experiences. Lee moved to New York and the two lost touch until that evening.

Small world coincidence or fate?

If you believe in fate, you may believe that your life plan is written before you are born. Laura believed that you are put on Earth for a period of time and when that time is up, you are on to the next adventure. I know she believed our life here is just one of the many lives we experience. I want to believe my relationship with Laura has fared the test of time. It probably wasn’t our first encounter and hopefully, it won’t be our last.

I can’t help but wish that she had gone to the doctors to find out what was going on with the back pain and shortness of breath. Had she, maybe she’d be here today. But that wasn’t to be.

Laura’s friends have written a lot of wonderful testimonials on Mourn Watch and Facebook. I haven’t written anything yet. There’s just so much I want to say.

Last February (09), I wrote a recommendation for Laura on LinkedIn. Here’s what it said:

“Laura is my blogging hero. Laura has embraced social networking and blogging in a big way. Because she’s just plain brilliant and has vast knowledge in many areas, she’s been able to incorporate her unique and fabulous understanding of direct marketing (she’s a real expert in the field) to make her award-winning blog one of the area’s most highly respected. I’m lucky to have met her. She’s help me to understand how to create my own blog. While her primary career isn’t as a journalist, her real passion for food and her creative writing style has given thousands of people who have discovered her writing, whether it be through her blog, Best of the Best Dining Chicago, her musings in The Examiner or elsewhere, a real treat and understanding of food and dining in Chicago. If you are as lucky as I have been, you’ll get to know Laura and if you have the chance to work with her, it will be pure joy.” February 28, 2009

Laura–Knowing you has been pure joy. You will always be loved and remembered. Lee and I miss you. I hope that you were right about life ever after. Until we meet again my friend.

Laura’s family has arranged a mass for her at 11 a.m. FRiday, April 30 at Our Lady of the Wayside, 434 West Park Street, Arlington Hts., IL (847)253-5454/

Thanks for reading  Mom and I Blog. Please contribute your own stories. I’m finding it therapeutic and I think you will too.  Having wonderful people like Laura in my life has helped to make me a better person. Tell my readers about the Laura in your life and may his or her memory live on through your story.


Filed under Aging Parents, Baby Boomer, Death, Mommy Blog, Senior Lifestyle

11 Responses to When the good die young. Laura's story.

  1. My own grandmother buried two of her own daughters and one of her sons in law. But I only heard her complain about it once; but that was her nature. Very accepting; she was Zen before Zen was hip. Coincidentally, it was my birthday yesterday and I spent part of it visiting her grave and the graves of my mom and dad. I thought it would be good to spend my 60th birthday updating my folks on my life. It was good to hang out with them again. Really goodl

  2. carol

    I continue to be amazed and moved by your wonderful writings and insight. I feel like I knew Laura. She was luckly to have you as a friend!!

  3. OH OH OH Cindy what a beautiful writer you are.
    YOU so have so honored Laura with your words.
    I too was new to the Laura world and feel such an empty hole in my life with out her.
    I also hear in the words the confusion of letting her go.. Laura did choose to live the life she need to live.. Her parents are in pain for sure and her brothers.. I am parent that has lost a daughter and a son due to extra chromosone damage .. no matter when a child leaves us at one day or 50 years it still has pain and that pain is also the gift of life no matter how long

    Dear Cindy thank you so very much for being there for Laura Pengie does live on. Hope to see you soon.

  4. Katherine,
    I look forward to seeing you at the memorial. Laura was so great at getting people together, I know that well all stay connected at some level. I’m learning so much from everyone that’s commenting. It’s interesting how little I knew about some of my best friends. Actually, a little scary. This is a great opportunity to express ourselves. I am so sorry about your losses. I know that you think of them all the time. See you next week.

  5. Thanks Carol. My friends would like a little levity here. You may find yourself in a post coming soon…or at least references to your adorable brother-in-law who we are meeting for dinner soon! Safe travels. Stay away from the Volcano! You ARE still going to Iceland?

  6. I’m so sorry to learn of Laura’s passing. I did not know her personally, but I’ve long enjoyed her Best of the Best blog, and felt I knew her in that strange way one knows people online — on one level, intimately, and on another, not at all.

    My best friend died ten years ago, of cancer at age 45, so know how tough this is for you. My prayers are with you, Cindy, as you process this loss. In time, the happy memories become bigger than the pain, even though we still miss the friend. Even now, ten years later, when I use something my friend, Betsy, gave me, I’ll smile and say, “Thanks, Bets.” We never completely lose them as long as we have the memories.

  7. Maddie

    I grew up across the street from Laura and her family and I was very close to her brothers.

    I just found out today that she passed. I am so very sad. We had reconnected on Facebook this past year as I was trying to find her brothers. Laura was so sweet, so nice and so “there” as an adult as she was when we were kids growing up.

    I am so very sorry she is gone and I wanted to pass that along to her family and let the “boys” know that they can contact me. God bless Laura!

    Love always,

  8. hiya and thanks for a touching story. i happened across this when googling for “Laura Hansen”. do you know if your friend ever served in the Navy? am searching for old military friends. thanks and take care!

  9. bobby ray andrews

    I had the pleasure of knowing, and working with Laura since the early 80’s she was a fantastic person. I have been so worried these past months as I could not contact her. I only found out today. I spoke with her last just a day or two before her passing. Little did I know it would be the last time. She was telling me that day that something fantastic was about to happen but that she was not allowed to tell me.

    You are missed!!

  10. Sergio Burgos

    I have been trying to find out about Laura Hansen, until today that I did read the bad news.
    With Laura, we used to paint acrylics and watercolors at her home.
    Suddenly, I kept sending e-mails to her and I got mail failures, I didn’t know if she was sick or what happened to her.

    The news for me are sad, I lost a great friend.
    I will keep her e-mail address in my Yahoo account as an homage to her.

    Laura: I miss you a lot, I am sad and feel alone.


  11. Cindy Kurman

    Hi Sergio,

    Sorry that I didn’t respond sooner. I haven’t been keeping up with my Mom and I blog. I’m trying to be better at it. Laura’s death was a huge loss for all of us. I’m sure that her family would like to hear from you. I believe that her Facebook page is still active. Her brothr is Chris Hansen and he’s a friend of mine on Facebook. Go to Cindy Kurman and see if you can find him. Thanks for writing.

    Best regards,

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