Marco Orlando

No amount of mentally preparing myself could ever be enough for a moment like this. It was the furthest thing from my mind. From the moment news first broke of her untimely passing to the moment I arrived to the service, walking in the room and seeing reality staring me in the face in such grand fashion humbled me in a way little else can. I’d spent a fair amount of time processing the reality of the situation in my head, like it still somehow didn’t seem real to me at first. But after news of her passing was put in writing and made official, reality started setting in. And in that moment, standing at the podium, adorned in a dark suit paired with a bubblegum pink necktie, to address friends and relatives on arguably the most difficult day of their lives became one of those things in life that I didn’t think I would ever have to do.

But there I was, putting on my best face and being strong for everyone who couldn’t be. You could say I have a habit of that, and I’d like to think I’m decent at it. In the interest of full disclosure, I knew nothing of her internal struggle. I honestly had no clue, and even now, there’s a part of me that still doesn’t want to believe it. But it just goes to show how addiction doesn’t discriminate. In all the time I’ve known her, I was never wised up to it, so I didn’t address it at the time. I didn’t think it was appropriate, and it wasn’t really my place to address it. Instead, I took a moment to highlight the things I did get to see, how it was the little things about her that I remembered most.

I knew of Laura through her roommate, who was three years behind me when we went to high school together. They had both been known to perform karaoke at Jesters on Friday nights from time to time. The first time I heard Laura perform, I believe the first song I ever heard her sing was “Little Toy Guns” from Carrie Underwood. Like many others who knew Laura, I was instantly impressed by her amazing voice. I mean, I knew her roommate could sing her heart out, but putting both of their singing voices side by side was like buying ice cream at the grocery store and having to choose between Fenway Fudge and Moose Tracks. I couldn’t settle on a favorite, I liked them both.

As time went on, I learned a few other interesting things about Laura. I can vividly recall how awesome I thought it was when I realized she had a twin sister. I’ve always been fascinated by little things like that. I was also ecstatic to learn that Laura and her roommate both worked in social and human services like I did. Here were three different people in the same line of work with similar mindsets and phenomenal people skills who could candidly discuss both the things they enjoyed about their work and their frustrations with how things were being run internally.

Laura was so full of life, full of passion, so friendly, so personable. Her winning smile would always light up the room whenever she walked in. She certainly had no problem making friends and keeping them, and she had a way about her of making wherever she was the only place anybody would ever want to be. It saddened me to know that it had come down to this, like it still didn’t seem right to me that this was how it ended. But being the wordsmith that I am, I had to convince myself that I needed to do her memory proud in my own way going forward. That’s probably what she would have wanted, so I encouraged everyone else in attendance to do the same. |_ <3 _|



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