Remembering Our Beloved Cousin, Lauren Rousseau

12.17.2012 · Posted by Emily (The Culinary Couple)

From Emily

Nick and I had a rare moment alone yesterday — on our drive home from my parents’ house. We left the kids with Nana and Poppy and headed west to tie up a few loose ends and pack a suitcase before we leave for Connecticut today to attend the memorial service of his cousin, Lauren Rousseau, one of the victims of Friday’s horrible and tragic school shooting.

He asked yesterday if I thought writing is therapeutic. “Absolutely,” I replied. “It’s why I write.”

I write to preserve memories and emotions, stories of our ordinary days and events that change our lives. And there are few events that have caused such pain, that have left us so heavy hearted, than what occurred last week at Sandy Hook Elementary School where Lauren was a teacher.

Lauren was compassionate and thoughtful. She was the type who gave personalized gifts and sent Halloween cards. She always checked our blog for new Sammy photos, and was one of the first to touch base after we brought Lucy home.

On Thanksgiving Day this year, she told us how thrilled she was to finally have a full-time teaching position and how, after months of substituting at the school, she was proud to know the names of almost every child. She also introduced us to her boyfriend, Tony, that day, and it was obvious how happy he made her. When we stood in a circle and held hands and shared what we were thankful for this year, Tony said, “I am thankful for Lauren.”

And, yes, I am thankful for Lauren, too. I am thankful to have been part of her extended family. I am thankful she had the opportunity to do what she loved. I am thankful that the last time we saw her, she was in such a happy place.

It’s difficult to string together words that can adequately express our disbelief and our sorrow. But we also want to attempt to capture what we have felt over the past three days. We sincerely thank you all for your thoughts and prayers, your comments and messages and phone calls and texts, and your show of support for Lauren and the other victims. Please hug your family extra tight today — your children, your parents, your cousins.

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{Our Wedding, 2009. Photo Credit Robert Winton.}

From Nick

Lauren was just three months older than me. Of all my cousins, we were closest in age. And so we shared all of life’s milestones — birthdays, holidays, graduations.

first-birthday

{My First Birthday, with Lauren, 1983.}

Lauren was just 30 years old when she was so suddenly taken from us.

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{Thanksgiving, 2006.}

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{Thanksgiving, 2009.}

I found out on Friday afternoon that the elementary school all over the news was the school where Lauren was just recently hired as a teacher. She spent years working odd jobs — as a caterer and at Starbucks — before she landed the job she dreamed of doing — educating and guiding young children.

My initial reaction to the news was shared by everyone across the country — shock, disbelief, sorrow. And I thought how this would affect Lauren and her future. But I never imagined she could be one of the victims. I didn’t even think that horrible thought after hours passed without hearing from her. I found comfort in every other possible scenario — she left her phone in the classroom as she rushed her children to safety; she was with her boyfriend and would call my Aunt Terri any minute. I incessantly checked her Facebook page, each time with the hope that she had checked in and reassured everyone she was shaken up but okay. But as day turned to night and the magnitude of the tragedy became evident, hope started to fade.

Just before 11pm, after reading a public statement from Lauren’s father, Gil, and after hearing he and Aunt Terri had been “assigned” a state trooper, I suspected that my worst fears might be realized. I made the decision to drive to Dover to be with Emily and Sam. My aunt got final word at 1am that Lauren was among the 26 souls taken that day. I was already awake when my mother (Terri’s sister) called me at 7:30am, in fact I’m not even sure if I slept that night.

A million thoughts raced through my head. Why!? Like Columbine, Aurora, Blacksburg before it, this pernicious act made humanity seem so inhuman.

This thought was quickly counterbalanced by the outpouring of love and support, from family, friends… the nation.

Emily and I drove home to Greensburg on Sunday, to pack a few things for the trip up to Connecticut. I walked in the front door and on the countertop was Lauren’s Christmas card. “Here’s to a super-fantastic, super-enjoyable Christmas and New Year,” it read with a picture of her beloved cat, Laila.

christmas-card

I will always remember Lauren as the quirky, thoughtful cousin, someone who always put others before herself.

I have never seen her so happy than when we saw her just a few short weeks ago on Thanksgiving. She was beaming. She had achieved her dream of teaching, and she had sweet Tony by her side — someone as equally carefree and caring as her.

In the past, these tragedies unfolded like a piece of fiction. I felt little connection to the stories emerging as the media frenzy ensued. In a way, I am still hoping to wake up from this awful dream. And to continue to share in all of life’s milestones together. But that is not possible anymore. There will be an infinite solitude in those milestones.

There is a void in my life, and in all of the lives of those who knew you. We love you, Lauren.

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{All of the Cousins with Grandma. Our Wedding, 2009. Photo Credit Robert Winton.}

44 Comments to “Remembering Our Beloved Cousin, Lauren Rousseau”

  1. Emily and Nick,

    I am so, so sorry for your profound loss. Its an incomprehensible tragedy, and as you sit and wonder “why” and “how,” know that she was a hero. She was a hero to her students, to parents, to her family, to perfect strangers…that says a lot about the entity of someone. She seems like a genuine, selfless person, and will always be remembered as such.

    Like you, I used to watch these horrible things unfold, but with a sense of disconnect. But this time was different for me as well. The murdered psychologist was my summer neighbor. I grew up with her and her girls, playing every day. We spoke just this past fall about how proud of her daughters she was and how excited she was to retire and hopefully become a grandmother. All of her hopes and dreams were stolen away, along with Lauren’s.

    I take comfort in knowing that the entire world is behind those lost that day. All we can do is keep repeating their names so they arent lost in vain.

    Bless you all.

    • Dear Kelly,

      Thank you so very much for taking the time to comment on our blog and share the story about your family’s neighbor. Please know that we are grieving right alongside you. My heart breaks for all those connected to the victims. You are right, though, that we are finding comfort in knowing the entire world is wrapping us in great big hugs.

      Peace and love to you and your family and friend’s family during this very challenging time.

      –Emily

  2. There are no words I can say that will express how truly saddened I am by your loss. Prayers and love to your families as you go through this difficult time. <3

  3. I’m so, so sorry for your loss. I hope you find joy in remembering what a wonderful person Lauren was. She is and always will be remembered as a hero to those of us who only know her story through you.

  4. Cindy Snyder says:

    Emily and Nick,
    This is a beautiful tribute to your cousin. I am so sorry for your loss, but so glad that Lauren was able to enjoy the joys of teaching, which obviously was her passion. Thought and prayers to you and your families, and poor Laila who must be confused and missing her mommy terribly as well.
    Cindy

  5. Emily and Nick, I am praying for you and your family during this awful time. No words can express how truly saddened I am, but just know that millions of people are lifting you up. May you mourn, grieve, and heal in your own time.

  6. Our thoughts and prayers are with your family at this time. Thank you for sharing this. We mourn with you and for you.

  7. I am so very sorry for your loss. I hope her beautiful spirit always stays a vibrant memory for you.

  8. My heart is with you all during this incredibly difficult time. So senseless….I’m so sorry. Sounds like she was an incredible person

  9. She sounds like such a wonderful person. We’re thinking about y’all and sending love and prayers your way.

  10. Emily and Nick, please know that I am thinking of you and praying for your family as you walk through this painful time. It’s good to write, but remember that not having the words to say is okay too. May God comfort you and fill you with hope!

  11. I am a friend of Amy Bomgardner’s and my sincerest thoughts go out to you and your families in this hard time. Lauren is obviously a cherished and very loved member of your family and from what I have seen and heard she sounds like an amazing individual. I know your fond memories of her will keep that aspect of her with you forever :) Please know that there are thousands of us out here thinking of you and your families, always on our minds.

    <3

  12. Dear Emily and Nick,
    I have to tell you that although we haven’t met, I know how fond of you Lauren was, she loved you very much. She was so excited that she was going to see you guys at Thanksgiving. She always told me about you and your blog and thought you were just the most perfect couple imaginable. Having worked at weddings forever, Lauren had very particular ideas of what made a nice wedding and reception. She really loved your wedding and your culinary tribute that went along with it. I don’t have the adequate words to express my sorrow after years of being close friends, and can only imagine yours. I can only offer my love and a hug sometime this week and the reassurance that our angel will always be with us, her love and smiles just out of sight.
    love,
    Kari

    • Dear Kari,

      I can’t tell you how much your comment means to us — we will cherish it forever. My heart breaks to know she will not have the wedding she dreamed of having. But I find comfort in knowing she did find the love of her life.

      Sending a great big hug to you, too — one that I hope to deliver in person later this week.

      Love,
      Emily

  13. She sounds like an incredible person. I have no words to express the sorrow that I feel for you and your family (and all of the victims), so I will not even try. Just please know that I am praying for you all and I wish you love during this holiday season.

  14. Cindy Gode Potratz says:

    I was in Pi Phi with Lauren in college and although I had not been in touch with her since graduating, I certainly remember her unfailing kindness and incredible sweet nature. This is a beautiful tribute. I am quite close with my cousins as well and can only imagine your grief in this time. I wish you all comfort in your time together with family and strength in your love.

  15. I am so very sorry for your loss. My prayers are with you and your family. The nation grieves with you.

  16. My heart and my prayers go out to you, your family, and to Newtown. Thank you for telling us more about Lauren…hoping you all will find peace and comfort.

  17. This is so beautiful.

    I am one of Lauren’ s fellow baristas at Starbucks. We were hired at the same time, and have worked with one another for the last five years. She was such a beautiful soul- I wake up and think that it will all just turn out to be a nightmare…. but it’s not.

    She was such an amazing person. So full of joy and innocence. I feel so blessed that I was able to get to know her, and so blessed that in knowing her, I am a better person. She is the kind of person that people strive to be like. Honest and upright, but with a hidden wicked sense of humor (which could totally catch you unawares, if you thought that she was all sugar and spice.)

    I love her and miss her so much already- this is so overwhelming. Thank you for sharing these beautiful photos of her.

    • Dear Sarah,

      Thank you so very much for sharing your tribute to Lauren on our blog. We are grieving right alongside you. She spoke so highly of her colleagues at Starbucks. In fact, we are in a hotel very close to the Starbucks where you both worked, and we are looking forward to visiting later today to express our appreciation.

      Hugs to you

      –Emily

  18. I am so so sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  19. Uncle Steve and Aunt Brenda says:

    Beautiful words and sentiments Nick and Emily – and we know so well how true they all are. Lauren was a wonderful soul, and she will always be with us. But we certainly will miss hearing her laugh and seeing her great smile. We are so fortunate to have had her travel to Wisconsin with us last spring, and all the fun pictures we took on that trip mean so much to us now. Lauren was such a sweetheart.

  20. What a beautiful post. I am so sorry for your loss. Please know my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this difficult time.

  21. Emily and Nick- I am so sorry for your loss. My heart aches for you both. It sounds like Lauren was an amazing soul, and you both beautifully put into words how special she is. Sending peace, comfort, and prayers your way.

  22. What a lovely tribute to your cousin. I’m terribly sorry for your loss and am still in shock that this tragedy occurred in the first place. I’m thinking of you during this sad time and hope you find solace in remembering how happy Lauren was as a teacher and spending time with family over the holidays. Much love, Emily

  23. I am so, so sorry. I don’t know what to say. I simply can not imagine the profound pain you and the families and friends of all of the souls lost must be going through. Thank you for sharing a bit of Lauren with us- what a beautiful person she must have been. My heart aches for you all. Sending love and light your way….

  24. I have chills, this was beautiful and I am so deeply sorry for your loss. You and your family are in my prayers

  25. Emily, Nick & Sam—I’m so sorry for what happened to Lauren and the other 25 children and adults. She sounded like she was a wonderful person. Even though I’ve never met you, I’m thinking about your family. I hope the happy memories you had with her ease some of your pain.
    xo- Kristin

  26. Thoughts and prayers with you all always. Many thanks to sharing her story (and yours) and may the love of family always be in our hearts.

  27. I am so sorry for your loss. I really thank you for sharing your touching story about your beloved cousin and showing the love that she possessed. I hope that the wonderful memories will put some ease to your suffering. Just know that she is forever in your heart. May God be with you all during this and allow Him to carry you if you need to be. It is alright to ask for help. It is alright to cry. It is alright to be angry and upset. Let yourself grief in a healthy way. Turn to God and He shall heal. Hugs to all of you.

  28. This is a very touching tribute to your cousin. I am so very sorry for your loss.

  29. Nick and Emily, The staff here at Dr Carney’s office was saddened to hear the news of your cousin. Please know you’re in our thoughts and prayers at this time. Take care and God Bless. June

  30. I have a cousin Lauren who is a first grade teacher at a town adjacent to Newtown. It could have been anyone. I’m sorry that it was someone near and dear to you. I’m sorry for her parents. I don’t understand how they can ever have joy again in their lives…but I hope they can. I hope that someday you and the rest of her family will find peace and joy in your memories of Lauren.

  31. Emily and Nick, I am so sorry for your loss. I’m sending you and your family lots of positive thoughts and prayers from Ann Arbor.

  32. Dear Nick and Emily,

    I am so sorry for your loss of Lauren. She seemed like a beautiful person inside and out. My heart and prayers are with you and your family.

  33. Hi Nick & Emily,

    I am so sorry for your loss. This nation is shocked by all of this. I live in Dallas, TX and I am a native of NJ. Many in this area are heartbroken and in fear of sending their children to school. I can’t imagine what you all are going through right now. I have tried to put myself in your shoes and I quickly get the chills, then I think to myself, how lucky I am not to have lost a close family member or child this way. If there is anything at all that I can do for you, or if you simply just need to vent, cry or talk to an outsider who will listen, please do not hesitate to contact me. I’ve worked as a counselor and a case manager for years and I have helped many cope with trauma, drug addiction and death. May you all find comfort in knowing that you have many friends you don’t even know, willing to help you get through this… :-)

  34. I am so very sorry for your loss. It sounds like your cousin was an amazing person to know and be around, and you are very blessed to have known her. Sending many prayers to you and your family…

  35. Nick and Emily,

    Your words are beautiful and a great way to remember your cousin. So sorry for your loss. This whole situation is just so heart breaking. Praying for you all.

  36. I really don’t have any wise words but I can offer prayers, condolences and much sympathy for the loss of your cousin. I am so heartbroken for y’all.

  37. I am so sorry for your incredible loss. She was beautiful and I can’t imagine the pain your family is feeling. Sending my prayers and best wishes for your entire family and all those impacted by this unspeakable tragedy.

  38. I am so very sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine how hard this must be and I find myself without words. My thoughts are with you and your family. Sending hugs your way.

  39. Words can’t describe what it’s like. We watched while Tower 1 fall to the ground in flames, knowing our loved one was trapped inside, fully aware we could do nothing to save him, and no words have ever been adequate to describe what it did to me – and especially his daughter, which was our daughter.
    The only things that help me probably would appear odd to most people. I’m reading a book by Elie Wiesel, call ‘Night’ and it’s the only book I’ve read since the tragedy that’s come close to ‘speaking’ of the agony. He said he was deeply religious before he went to Auschwitz and Buchenwald; afterward his faith was effectively pummeled into dust.
    That’s how what happened on September 11 feels to me, and I can barely put on the happy face for the world.
    IMO saying sorry seems so inadequate, so I do things instead, like actively speaking out against gun violence. That’s the only way I can believe I honestly feel sorry about it. By doing something that turns you into a pretty unpopular person.

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