Day 99 - Nurse Bettie, Lower East Side, New York City
A blizzard is without a doubt one of the best days to go out for a drink in New York. Put on your snow boots, down jacket and plow away to your favorite neighborhood watering hole. What you will find is quality likeminded people, who just want to come out and have a drink while the snow is coming down. No frills, no bridge and tunnel, no bullshit, just a good hangout with great people.
Nurse Bettie was Lauren’s neighborhood watering hole, a second home if you may. She spent numerous occasions here while the city was put high alert due to extreme weather discussing whatever was going on at the time with other patrons. The bar reminded her of the New York’s golden era of nightlife, where you didn’t have to go to a hotel bar to enjoy yourself. Hell, you didn’t even have to leave your neighborhood if you didn’t want to and you were guaranteed just as much fun if not more.
A massive thank you to our extended family at Nurse Bettie for putting her medallion behind the bar and keeping her memory alive for as long as the bar stands. Thank you for all your support. We love you.
Day 98 - Angel Orensanz, Lower East Side, New York City
In May 2012, Lauren’s close friends threw her a fundraiser to help out with her medical expenses. There was some difficulty deciding on a venue until we all realized that the best location was actually just around the corner.
I pass Angel Orensanz daily and think back to that day and the people that came together to make the event happen. Between the lovely staff at Angel Orensanz and all the sponsors, we could not have asked for a better night. A few days before the event I remember how Lauren managed to hunt down Bethany Frankel at one of her book signings who was also touched by her story and decided to sponsor the event with her Skinny Girl cocktails.
Thank you Angel Orensanz for letting us put up one of her hundred medallions on your wall and keeping her memory alive. Thank you for all your support.
Day 97 - Alexanderplatz, Berlin, Germany
A few years back Lauren and I found ourselves in Berlin for one of Lauren’s best friend’s birthday. East Berlin at the time still felt like a diamond in the rough. It felt like a city by artists for artists, exiting and full of surprises. Lauren’s friend was well connected with the Berlin nightlife scene so we got to experience that side as well. No bottle service, no bullshit, just raw venues, great music and the people who were there to enjoy it.
In many ways it reminded us of how the East Village used to be back in the nineties. Both of us had at one point in our lives lived in the East Village and we have also seen it change over the last decade. Being in East Berlin brought back great memories. The days when you could go out in the village alone and venture from place to place, meeting great people, listening to great music, and have a great time without ever leaving the neighborhood.
Thank you Megan for introducing us to Berlin. Thank you Julieth for putting up the medallion in honor of Lauren. We love you!
Day 96 - Kardamyla, Chios, Greece
Pre heart failure, Lauren used to spend a number of summers at her best friend’s house in Greece. Our paths had not crossed yet but I heard all the stories how the people of this Greek village had to brace themselves every summer when these two came to town. I asked her best friend to share her memories of their summers together.
"Lauren was unstoppable. Our first summer in Kardamyla (2002) we made friends with all the local Greek boys and they’d practice their English on her. Lauren’s charm made them open up to her quickly and invite her everywhere- no matter the language barrier. Most conversations revolved around her tan (she was a committed tanner!) or, of course, her love of food. I won’t forget the first time they called us over to eat when we were on the beach, struggling to get their words right: “LO-REN! CAHHHM! UHH… EHHH… FU*KING FOOD!!!
The end of that summer went out with a BANG. Literally. We spent the vacation cruising around on the island in my Jeep Wrangler, and one night very late, the Jeep crashed straight into a house. Our new Greek friends came rushing to our help and drove us to the hospital downtown. Lauren was chilling with her feet up in the car (classic move) and broke her ankle on impact, and had to spend the rest of the vacation in a cast and crutches. Didn’t stop her one bit. From scooching up the stairs of our walk-up using her behind, to getting the sailors on the ferry boats to fire-man carry her up the stairs, to angrily confronting the loud Greek fruit sellers with her crutches for waking her up - she didn’t let it slow her down. She never let anything slow her down.
I went back to Kardamyla shortly after Lauren’s passing and was moved by the outpour of love, condolences, nice words, stories, and even tears that came from those old friends - and by many of the local townspeople. One by one they came up to me and my parents and paid their respects by sharing their memories of her. She brightened their lives with her positive energy, sense of humor, and authentic personality. She left her mark in a village that considered her local too - and which she will always be a part of.”
Lauren often referred to her Greek summer as spending them with her second family. I had the honor of meeting them on multiple occasions and I love them dearly. Thank you Eleonora, the Captain and of course her best friend for taking such good care of Lauren and welcoming her as your own daughter during her wild days.
The Branding Studio, School of Visual Arts
When Lauren was first diagnosed with her weakened heart, she had a hard time acclimating to her new limitations. Given that she was a social New York City girl, she could never get used to the social part of her life diminishing. We carefully tried to place her around people where she could feel stimulated by her environment but she simply wasn’t ready. Instead she choose to focus on her recovery.
Two years ago Lauren’s good friend graduated from the Branding program at School of Visual Arts and introduced her to some of his work. I could see the passion in her eyes igniting as she felt in love with the program and what it had to offer. After spending five years in recovery mode she felt ready and shortly thereafter she applied. I remember both of us staying up the entire night adding the finishing touches to her application.
She got accepted and was ecstatic about studying with passionate and like-minded people. The sheer fact that she would be contributing to a “greater good” was very exciting to her. As a husband, seeing my wife so happy was truly something precious. In the spring of 2013 the class received an assignment that entailed doing something consistent every day for a hundred days. Lauren’s 100 heartbeat project was born.
Thank you Debbie, J’aime, Katie (SVA Branding faculty and staff) and the entire class of 2013 for making Lauren part of the family. We love you!
My name is Thomas, I am Lauren’s (the author of this blog) husband. It saddens me to say that Lauren passed away on July 19th. The 100 heartbeat project that she was working on was part of an assignment she received while getting her master’s degree at School of Visual Arts. The essence of the assignment was to do something consistent every day for a hundred days. She reached day 93 before she left us.
In the memory of Lauren, I have taken it upon myself to finish her project. The last 7 days will be posted in the weeks to come and with the help of the remarkable people that stood by her the last post will be something really spectacular.
I am honored to have stood by Lauren’s side for the last 7 years of her life. The night I first met her I knew she was one of a kind. We never got the chance to exchange phone number that night, instead we randomly ran in to each other on the street on a rainy New York night just a few days later. Within a month she moved in with me and for the next 7 years we were inseparable.
Our journey together faced the most difficult challenges a couple can face. Just a few months after we met, Lauren got her heart diagnosis and her life changed dramatically. Despite the relentless challenges, Lauren refused to let anything get in her way of life. She left us with these words:
Thank you for the best 7 years of my life. Thank you for being amazing. Thank you for being you. Words cannot describe how much I miss you. I love you always and forever.
Please feel free to share Lauren’s blog and her story. Stay tuned for the remaining posts.