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 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.
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.