Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Lorin's Sad Anniversary

TigerBlog's Aunt Edee smoked and never exercised. Her idea of sport was going to Atlantic City or to the senior center in Brooklyn to play cards.

She lived to the age of 85 before passing away last month.

To honor his aunt, TB would share the last joke she ever told him, except he can't, because it's about a guy who opens a bar under a whorehouse and the punchline has a strategically placed f-bomb. Yes, that was the last joke an 85-year-old woman told him.

It was hardly the first time that she had told her nephew such a joke. It was her MO.

In her 85 years, she had her share of tragedy, probably more than her share, actually. Still, for TB, when he thinks back to his aunt, he'll remember the dirty jokes, the laughing, the loyalty, the way she never forgot an occasion, the way she made him feel like she would be there for him whenever he needed her.

And mostly he'll remember that she was happy. That's what she was. A happy person.

TB knew another happy person, one who died five years ago today.

Her name was Lorin Maurer, and she was an athletic fundraiser/Friends' group coordinator here at Princeton. She was killed along with 49 other people in a senseless plane crash near Buffalo.

Lorin was on her way to meet up with her boyfriend Kevin to attend his brother's wedding. She had just turned 30.

Lorin was rail-thin and worked out every day. She was young and healthy, in addition to happy.

One woman smokes and doesn't exercise and lives to be 85. Another is in top shape and dies at 30.

There's no way to answer the question of why that is. Why do some people live a long time while others don't. It's just part of the randomness of the universe, TB supposes.

He's always wondered why Lorin, ever since he woke up five years ago today to an email that said she had died. It made no sense then, and it makes no sense now.

TB didn't believe it at first. How in the world could she be gone?

Lorin and TB were in a meeting the day of her death. Sometimes when you're in a meeting, you can tell when someone else there has to be someplace else and needs for this particular meeting to end. Hey, TB has been the "gotta-run" person many times himself.

It's those meetings that seem to drag on interminably. At this one, clearly Lorin had to be get out of there, TB remembers. She had a plane to catch.

He's pretty sure she excused herself a few seconds before it ended - or the fact that she had to go forced the end of the meeting. A few minutes later, when TB got back to his office, Lorin walked by, looked in, smiled and kept going.

It's what she did a lot. She would sometimes stop in to say hi, but usually she would stop, smile and keep going to whatever meeting or task was calling her.

And that's what happened on the last day of her life. She smiled the smile she always had and was off.

The last thing in the world TB ever would have dreamed of is what happened the next morning, with an email that Lorin had been killed. And then TB numbingly turned on the television to see the coverage of the plane crash, on approach to Buffalo, in bad winter weather, with apparently an inexperienced flight crew at the controls.

As the day went along, pictures of the other who were killed started to appear on TV and online. They were young and older, heading from Newark to Buffalo for all kinds of reasons, and then suddenly all gone.

As TB said, he can't begin to answer the question of why them. Why did his aunt live to be 85 and Lorin only 30? The answer is that there is no answer.
All TB can do is tell you about Lorin Maurer, so that she's never forgotten around here.

Lorin Maurer, as TB said, was a happy person.

She worked hard, and she was great at dealing with all of the different constituents who demanded her time. It's not an easy job, dealing with people who donate money and those who rely on that money to keep their programs going. There are endless events, endless details, endless people who want to know that their need is being taken seriously.

TB remembers a squash event, for instance, where he walked in to see Lorin as she was putting table cloths on the tables, since someone who was supposed to do it hadn't shown up. And he saved the last email he ever got from her, shortly before her death, which was basically one member of one Friends' group who was venting to her about seemingly little things.

Lorin had a lot of friends and was extremely well-liked, and likeable. She laughed easily. She loved her family and had found love with Kevin.

She had been a swimmer in college, at Rowan, where she was also an Academic All-America. She was starting to make her name in the profession, and she was committed to her professional development. By all indications, she was a rising star.

Beyond all of that, she was simply a nice young woman whose life was heading in the right direction.
She was funny and nice and personable and well-meaning.

And happy.

More than anything else, she was always happy.

Even now, five years later, there are still pictures of Lorin that hang in Jadwin Gym. She smiles in all of them, and it's easy to imagine her in the moment.

In one, she and Gary Walters are at a Princeton baseball game. In another, she and Kevin are at Yankee Stadium.

It was all part of her life, her happy life.

It's one that was extinguished way too soon, for reasons that nobody can ever know. It ended five years ago today, and for those who worked with her at Princeton, it's no easier to deal with now.

The best anyone can do is promise to remember her as she was and for who she was.

Lorin Maurer died five years ago today. TB will never forget her. Neither will anyone else who worked with her here.

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