Friday, February 11, 2011

Remembering Lorin

TigerBlog always keeps his door open out onto the Jadwin mezzanine.

While part of the reason is that it gets ridiculously hot in his office if the door is closed, the real reasons are that TB likes to interact with the people who walk by and wants anyone who walks by to know that they are welcome to come in.

Almost nobody actually does come in, of course. Most don't even slow down as they walk past, head down, on their way to their next task. Some slow up to wave or say hi. A few will stop and have a conversation, even when there's nothing really to say.

Lorin Maurer, who worked at Princeton with the athletic friends' groups, was usually in that last group, unless she was in a hurry, in which case she was in the second group. She was never in the first group.

Even now, as TigerBlog looks out to the blue sky, the brown facade of Princeton Stadium and Weaver Track and the white snow that covers anything green, he still half expects to hear her come down the hall, stop, wave, smile, say something and then be on her way to her next meeting, her next social event, her next workout.

Of course, she won't be by today. Just like she hasn't been in almost two years.

Lorin Maurer died two years ago tomorrow, died at the age of 30 in a horrific plane crash outside of Buffalo, where she was headed for her boyfriend's brother's wedding.

TigerBlog will never, ever forget waking up to an email that Lorin had been killed. His first reaction was that there was no way that it was possible, that Lorin had just been in the department meeting the day before, that Lorin was so full of life.

Sadly, it did turn out to be true. It was a shocking, numbing day here in Jadwin, one that seemed to move in slow motion and last forever, one that featured a parade of media people who wanted to learn about her in a way that was part noble and part ghoulish.

Lorin died along with 48 others on the plane and one more on the ground. Since then, much has been learned and written about regarding the crash, the role the pilots played in it (and they paid the heavy price themselves), the culpability of airline policies and other issues.

The family and friends of the victims have done a great job in bringing these issues to light and in trying to effect change so it will not happen again.

But that's not what TigerBlog wants to talk about.

Today, he just wants people to remember the young woman who worked here, the one with so much life and energy, the one who had it taken away from her so needlessly and tragically.

When TigerBlog thinks back to Lorin, he thinks first of her smile and her laugh. He also thinks back to the time that building services didn't show up for one of her friends' events and how she set up the lobby of Jadwin for the luncheon by herself. Why? Because it needed to be done.

TigerBlog and Lorin were friendly, but there were many here who knew her better than TB did. Earlier this week, TB asked some of those people to give their thoughts on what they remember.

This is what they had to say about her:

"Two years, wow, not sure if that seems like a long time or if it went quick. Anyhow, I just remember her pure love for life and everything she did, her constant smile, and contagious happiness. Lorin was pleasure to be around." - Jon Kurian, business office.

"I’ll never forget her smile. There are days where I’ll see someone that reminds me of her and I catch myself before calling out to her…remembering that it can’t be. I know people come into our lives for a reason and hers was to make us smile. She will not be forgotten. Ever." - Kim Meszaros, director's office.

"Within the first week of my employment at Princeton, Lorin had made the time to introduce herself and invite me to a happy hour that her roommate was hosting. Lorin's simple act of inviting me showed me just the kind of person she was - engaging, unassuming and exuberant every second of every day. She was a wonderful individual and a caring and devoted friend. I miss her every day." - Kelly Widener, compliance.

"Lorin is missed every day. I have a picture of her in my office, and also at home…though it may seem strange I sometimes find myself talking to her…because she was always such a source of strength. I feel that Lorin was a hard-worker, was full of enthusiasm, had an infectious laugh and energy and devotion to all she did that she set a high standard.
"Lorin was a good friend and strong person. I was lucky to share an office with her when I first came. Though she can be intimidating because she excelled at things she was involved in, she is a caring person and once you ‘prove’ yourself to her, you were ‘in’. She was a great person to first meet not knowing anyone or having family around, because she was a connector and took great joy in networking and having people meet each other. On holidays, she would have me over with her family, since mine lives far away.
"Lorin was a genuine person who would ‘tell it like it is’. In this world, it is hard to find people who will be blunt and forthcoming and I respected that greatly.
"Lorin had a love of life and seemed to make the most out of every moment. She was able to keep things in perspective and worked and played hard! She loved to dance, go out to eat, have a glad of wine, workout, work at events, see her family, be with friends and of course Kevin.
"Lorin taught me that even if people aren’t in your life for a long period of time…the impact they have can last forever.
"I feel sad wondering about what Lorin would have done or who all has missed out on her being here because she had an impact everywhere she went and on everyone she met.
"Lorin was integral in my daily life at Princeton. We were co-workers, friends, shared an office, and spent time together on weekends and trips.
"Lorin will never be forgotten because as everyone who encountered her or knew her knows she is unforgettable.
"I hope Lorin knows how much we all love and miss her." - Marie Muhvic, athletic friends

Lastly, there is Kellie Staples, from the Princeton Varsity Club. She was probably closest to Lorin of anyone who works here.

Kellie sent along her original eulogy of Lorin, along with these words:
After thinking about it for some time this afternoon, I decided that the most meaningful way for me to contribute was to pass along the thoughts that I shared as part of Lorin’s service in February of 2009. The sentiments still ring very true for me as I often think about the ways in which I was blessed to know her and about the many gifts she gave me.
Perhaps sharing this again will encourage others to take some time to reflect about the ways in which Lorin enhanced their lives. If it is something that helps keep her memory alive, then it is worth it for me.

And here is the text:

My relationship with Lorin began as co-workers who were friendly and got along well. We worked together on many projects, and because of that, spent a good amount of time together. As time progressed, a fundamental shift occurred in our relationship. We became good friends and confidants that happened to be co-workers. I can’t remember the exact day when the shift happened, but we both felt it. For years, I had come to rely on that friendship.

Once I realized that my friend had been taken away from me, in an effort to make some sense of the tremendous loss that I was feeling, I called my parents – a constant source of strength in my life. After some very patient listening on their part, I finally paused…awaiting my father’s response. What he said was not something I expected to hear, but it brought me great comfort.

He told me – “you were one of the lucky ones. You really got to know Lorin and got to be her friend. You need to think about what a gift that is.”

If you knew Lorin, you knew that she loved to give gifts. She would stockpile up all sorts of presents so that she was ready for any occasion. Without knowing it, my father had said something that struck me on so many levels.

So, whenever I am feeling anger or loss, I listen to those words again and I start to think about all of the ways that I was lucky and all of the ways that Lorin blessed me with our friendship and the many gifts that she gave me. I want to share with you some of those gifts…

Lorin gave me her compassion. When I first moved to Princeton, the person that I loved still lived in Boston and I was constantly traveling back and forth. Lorin repeatedly extended invitations to me to go out with her and her friends. Even though I did not initially take advantage of those offers, eventually, I began to meet some of the wonderful people who were part of Lorin’s life. Those people are now my friends. When I stop to think about it, Lorin gave me a Princeton family.

Lorin gave me the gift of her laughter. People often speak of Lorin’s bright and beautiful smile. It is so easy for me to picture because of the light that it brought. But, her laughter was her smile amplified. You could not contain your own laughter when she thought something was really funny…Often, one of her one jokes, but nonetheless, the sound just radiated and before you knew it, you were joining that chorus of laughter.

Lorin gave me the gift of patience. Some of you may be wondering what I am referencing, as patience might not be the first word you think of when talking about Lorin. When she wanted to get something done, she got it done and was not interested in waiting around… But, if you know me at all, you know that I simply can not cook. Lorin NEVER gave up hope on me that she could help me learn to cook. She would constantly tell me that it was simple, that I could do it. She would have me over and include me in the process or have me watch as she prepared us dinner and I poured a few glasses of wine… Deep down I was thinking, there is no way that I am going to do this on my own – but she never quit on me.

Lorin gave me her trust. To have a friend and colleague who you trust implicitly is a tremendous gift. To know that she trusted me with so many different parts of her life fills my heart. I knew that no matter what I was going through, or what she was going through, that we could talk about it. We would listen to each other and we would do whatever we could to help and to be there for the other person and that took so many different forms. In some instances it meant a really honest answer to a tough question. In other instances, it simply meant giving the other person a hug. There was nothing off limits between us and often our conversations centered on the most important aspects of our lives… love, family, career aspirations… Essentially, what we wanted in our lives in order to feel fulfilled. She wanted more than anything to be in love – something that was fulfilled when Kevin entered her life. She cared so deeply about her family and wanted them to know what they meant to her – something I hope that they can hold onto forever. And she wanted to be successful in her chosen profession. For those of us who worked closely with her, we know that she achieved that excellence.

Lorin inspired me in the way she lived her life. She did not wait around for things to happen to her – she made things happen. If she wanted something – she went for it, whether it be planning a trip to Europe or deciding last minute to go support her Florida Gators in yet another quest for a national championship. What a great inspiration for those around her and such an example of how to live each day to the fullest. I consider it such a gift that I was able to be inspired by her for the last three and a half years.

The other day, as I was going through some of Lorin’s belongings in her office, I came across a very small orange notepad. Not sure if it was work-related, I flipped a few pages to get a sense of what I had found.

Inside, I found a series of lists that were drafted in April of 2008. For those who knew Lorin, I am sure you are not surprised – her list-making ability is legendary. But these were not work-related lists, or tasks that needed to be accomplished. They were much simpler…

The header was a name and the contents below described the person noted above. As I flipped the pages, I saw that there were lists about those people who were so important in her life, her best friend Monica, her boyfriend Kevin, her good friend Kathleen…and then I flipped one more page and saw my name. The tears came rushing and I had not even read a word.

When I was able to gather myself to read the wonderful things that Lorin had written about me, all I could think was - what a gift. What a tremendous gift for me to find. I have to believe that Lorin purposely left it there for us to have. Though I have no idea why she wrote these lists, or what their purpose was at the time she drafted them, the fact that I was able to have even a brief glimpse into how I was able to give her something important in her life means the world to me.

I hope that every person who was blessed enough to get to know Lorin – on any level - thinks about the gifts that she gave them. Whether it was simply the gift of her smile, a thoughtful treat she brought in the office for everyone to share (as she often did), or the gift of her friendship… She lived her life thinking about what she could do for others and I was such a lucky beneficiary of that generosity. Please remember Lorin for all of her tremendous gifts and think about how you can do what she did for so many others.

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