I have a folder on my computer called, “Tools Laurie Uses.” My friend was a tech geek to say the least. She earned a Ph.D. in Information and Computer Science from Georgia Tech in 1987. Her dissertation was on fractals, for heaven’s sake. She was a pioneer for women in technology. That’s some pretty left-brained stuff to be sure. Laurie was also super creative. Rarely did we have a talk where she didn’t have knitting in her hands. Quilter, jewelry maker, writer, entrepreneur and more, she loved to dabble and try new creative pursuits at which she soon excelled. 

As you might imagine for a tech geek, Laurie was an early adopter of the iPhone and loved a good app. My son’s strongest memory of her was when she handed him her iPhone to play a game that was much more interesting than the solemn conversation the adults were having. Not to mention that the waiting room outside his dad’s ICU room was a stressful place to be. She knew what would help.

Recently I came across a free app that marries photography, video and text to produce a mini online magazine that can be accessed from any browser. Steller has been a fun way to tell stories and I’m pretty sure she would have loved it. (The early adopter in her might have even known about it before me.)

The first day I played with the app was the one month mark after Laurie’s death so she was fittingly the subject of my initial story. Story was our way into learning about each other: sharing what we gleaned from books we read, telling stories of our past, stories of what we learned from the challenges we never asked for, creating stories of what we wanted for the future, etc. I miss her stories especially as I continue to make more of my own without her here to tell them to.

July 17, 2016 would have been Laurie’s 55th birthday. She attracted and was surrounded by creative people. In her honor, a wood artist, Heather Muse, has created a project for volunteers to create and release into the world some LaFo Cupcakes to share her words and honor her spirit that lives on. I write this while I wait for the paint to dry on my own cupcake contribution. Why cupcakes? Listen to Laurie explain that herself and you will understand why we all loved her so much.

In hard times I naturally turn to creativity so this project came with perfect timing. As I planned what I would do with my cupcake, I reflected on how Laurie and I met and significant points in our relationship. Laurie and I were introduced through our book club that started about 20 years ago, through stories. Twenty years of shared books and potluck dinners. We found it remarkable that we have never had a bad meal even though we don’t coordinate it. One time dinner was a delightful set of nothing but salads (and wine, of course.) My cupcake paper reflects books, women and, if you look closely, sharing meals. The icing includes the colors of the self-care bag she brought to me in the hospital on the day of my late husband’s surgery. There is other symbolism in the colors chosen and the creation process but you get the idea. It doesn’t take away the grief but it helps. This cupcake represents a few of the raw ingredients of our relationship and, I hope, transforms them into something that will honor her memory and inspire the person who finds it when I release it.

Happy birthday, Laurie, wherever you are. Gosh, I miss having you around.

Ah, but I wonder what stories you have to tell now.

So with this little cupcake, I hope that you’ll remember whatever really raw ingredients life may bring your way, you have the power to choose and transform them into something sweet, into something loving, and profoundly hopeful.

~ Laurie Foley