Wednesday, March 31

Remembering Lauren

I don't often get very intimate on my blog. I usually just talk academically about silly things like technology or grammar. Or link to my favorite webcomics and authors. But please indulge me as I share some personal stuff.

First, as most of my real-life friends know, my wife Lauren passed away last November (that's her own personal blog in that link there). I haven't spoken of her death much online, deciding to keep things private for a while. Aside from Facebook, that is, but my FB friends are generally people I know from outside the Internet anyway.

She had cystic fibrosis, a genetic condition that caused her in her final years to have increasingly frequent and debilitating cases of pneumonia and other lung infections. Despite her disease, she was an amazingly positive woman; for nearly her entire life, she was able to make CF be merely "something about her" and not allow the disability to define her. In fact, the link at the beginning of this paragraph goes to one of her three (3!) blogs: she was trained as a scientist and also freelanced as a writer. She spent a lot of time distilling medical research about CF into information that average sufferers and caregivers could use to understand the illness and its treatment.

In addition, she was a strong Christian (this link goes to her blog where she wrote devotionals reflecting on passages from the Bible). In our nearly-decade-long relationship she was a great encouragement to me, and I to her, as we pressed onward with faith in God and toward the hope of our future dwelling in Heaven. I'm so glad now that she's being given a perfect body, unmarred by the strife of this present age, in which to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

But providing this brief description of an amazing woman, my wife of more than 6 years, is not what prompted me to write about her. You see, in her "side career" as a writer, she attended the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference on three separate occasions. While there, she made many friends and touched many lives. She was working on a book called "Dear Future Husband" in which she intended to publish selections from a large group of letters she wrote (beginning at age 14) addressed to the man she would one day marry. The last one begins "Dear Brad," and she gave me the whole set as a wedding gift.

Even that awesome writing project (which never got published) isn't quite why I'm remembering her in this post. One of the friends she made at the Writers Conference is Austin Boyd, another talented multi-career individual who for a time worked at the same scientific consulting firm for which Lauren compiled environmental emissions inventories at government installations across the state and the country. Just three days after she died, Austin proposed a scholarship/award to be given at the 2010 conference in her memory, to honor someone else who has withstood many challenges while shining the light of Christ through the written word.

Along with Lauren's parents, I went on Monday night, March 29, to this year's conference to see the presentation of the inaugural Lauren Beyenhof True Grit Award. Between Austin and his agent, Les Stobbe, they were able to present $1000 in her memory. In the course of his presentation, Austin showed a video interview with Lauren and me which had been recorded in 2007. The award went to Rachel Marks, a woman who's fought with cancer but seems as plucky and determined as Lauren ever was to keep hardship from getting in her way.

The whole experience of attending the conference for this presentation was humbling and awe-inspiring (and, as you'd expect, quite emotional). I was able to connect with a part of Lauren's life I hadn't really experienced before, and I heard from many people whose lives she had touched with her ebullience and love. It lifted my own spirits to be in a mountain retreat, communing with the Lord and with other people who knew my wife. I'm glad that Austin paid her this very special tribute, and that I was invited to share in an event to honor her life. I know Lauren would've been confused and taken aback by all the attention, but she and her memory deserve it all.

Thanks, Austin, for creating the award; and Les, for helping to present it. Thanks, Mom & Dad K., for raising a fantastic woman who captivated me and is an integral part of who I've become. And thanks most of all to God, who orchestrated our lives that we might find and fulfill each other in such a wonderful way.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
~ Jeremiah 29:11


Christian said...

Amen. Lauren Beyenhof and True Grit really do belong together.

Julie said...

What an amazing way to honor such a wonderful woman. I was moved to tears by this blog entry Brad. Thank you for sharing it on the CF forums. Lauren was a wonderful person and I am sad that she is no longer with us, but joyful that she is no longer suffering.

Julie Raysbrook (with the triplets)

Austin Boyd said...

Lauren touched us with her passion for the written word and her incredible positive attitude. She embodied that "True Grit" spirit, and it was fitting that we remember her, from this conference on, with this award. Thanks for this wonderful post, Brad, and for bringing Lauren's parents along to the event. What an emotional, and fun, night that was. May God richly bless you all in the days to come.

Austin Boyd

Jessica said...

wow, what a wonderful and fitting way to honor Lauren. How neat that you could be there and also get away for a bit.

RubeRad said...

Brad, it was good to learn a little more about Lauren. I hope that book project comes together eventually, I'd love to read it!

Jack Phillips said...

I miss her great writing... Hope you are well.

CF'er and fellow geek.

Loretta said...

I had bookmarked her blog few years ago and just recently came back to it today. Sadden to hear that she had passed away. CF is a terrible disease. May she breathe easily now.

Katrina said...

I have been thinking of Lauren lately and am so glad I came across your post. I miss chatting with her on the phone and her charm. So wonderful that she was honored in such a way. Thinking of you too. Take care, Katrina & Philip

Angela Young said...

I am a helium writer. I noticed Lauren's writing and that she did not have writing stars for such a good writer. I sent her a note and started to investigate when I discovered she has passed away. How sad. I am glad I got to read some of her work and get to know a little bit about her. Her life lives on in her writing. Angie

CF Mommy of 2 said...

I don't know you but my 9.5 month old daughter has CF. My husband and I are not sure entirely what that means for her life just yet but this blog brought me to tears. Your wife sounds like an amazing Christian woman. I'm sure she's in heaven and relieved not to have CF but I'm sur eyou miss her so much. I hope my daughter can live a full life as she did. -CF Mommy in San Diego, Maressa Lauren Conover

augmentedfourth said...

Hi Maressa,

I'd definitely be willing to talk about CF with you if you'd like. Lauren was always excited about helping other CF sufferers and caregivers understand the disease.

If you get this, feel free to send me an email... there's a link on the left sidebar of the blog that you can use to find my address.


Anonymous said...

Today, it has been 13 years since our son passed away from CF. We adjure our friends and contacts to fill the world with random acts of kindness and to check out May G-d irradicate these horrific illnesses forever.

Rebecca said...

I miss her so much!

Laura Christianson said...

I was not aware that Lauren had passed away until the Mount Hermon Writers Conference, when Austin made the announcement about the award in her honor. I had the privilege of meeting Lauren a few years ago at Mount Hermon, and we guest posted on each other's blogs occasionally. I just came across an application she submitted in 2008 to be a professional blogger for the company I own. I'll be praying for your comfort, Brad, as I'm sure you must miss your dear wife very much.

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