It is important to have a place for memories of Laura and to post our favorite pictures. All of us knew Laura in many different ways. This is a place to write, read, and reminisce about how Laura impacted our lives. Pictures can only be uploaded through me at firstname.lastname@example.org. To post, register and log in and then, after getting your password, go to the left side and click “Posts”. Enjoy…
How I wish we could have been there with you, Shannon and so many of our community to celebrate Laura’s life. We tried to reschedule Bob’s appointment at Aspen for this week, but we still didn’t have all the wheelchair parts he needs replaced after his accident before he can get his seating adjusted. So we will have an extra innings celebration of Laura when we come to Denver in the next few months to get the chair work done.
I still remember when we first met you and Laura. You two, along with Karen were so much a part of our first days in ADAPT, and so began the bonding I feel so strongly after these past 18 years. Laura’s poem “In the Way” captured the essence of actions for me, and profoundly affected how I came to view power and what’s possible and what’s necessary. More than anything else, that poem, as the lens through which I came to view ADAPT actions, helped me to “get it.”
You and Laura also came to be one of the standards that became infused in my internal compass about what’s possible, and what should be expected in the lives of the disability community. The two of you lived your life together to the fullest; continually participating in the fabric of the community-both locally and globally; together you engaged in education, advocacy, activism, meaningful work, home ownership, and parenting a child. Together you pushed every envelop crafted by the tyranny of low expectations, challenged bureaucratic puppet authority and nonsensical rules, and gave back by contributing your gifts and talents and skills and experience so the rest of us might learn and profit from your wisdom and lessons learned.
I have so many memories….ADAPT, May Media Meeting, picnics and Chinese take-out at your homes, wrestling together with the complexity and non-sequiturness of the SSI/SSDI rules, watching the same things on TV together via Facebook, or sharing, also via Facebook, the events of the world and the happenings in our own extended community. In some homes, the kitchen is the center where everyone gathers….in your homes, it was the bed, lol.
It has taken me these many months to try to wrap my brain around the fact that I won’t see Laura when we get to Denver. Her passing has been so unexpected and incomprehensible to me that I haven’t been able to write on her webpage until now. And even now, the right words fail me.
For the past few months my heart has ached deeply for you, because, knowing Laura, I have some idea about how great and profound is your loss. I have also been so grateful because both Laura’s wonderful family and the strong, loving community that you cultivated and that surrounded you and Laura for so many years continue to surround you and Shannon now.
Laura was a partner, mother, writer, teacher, activist, poet, friend, sister, daughter, employer, community leader…..and so much more. There is such a big hole in the Universe without her.
I send you so much love from here in the northern Rockies, and though my body will not be in the crowd tomorrow, my heart and my spirit will be celebrating with you, Shannon and all who are gathered there on the vernal equinox to remember Laura.
I’ve just learned of this loss of one of contemporary feminism’s greats. My heart goes out to Laura’s cherished partner, Robin Stephens, and their child. But Laura’s legacy is huge–as a political leader, a feminist and disability rights activist, and especially a writer: her work lives on, inspiring, witty, never sentimental or self indulgent, and–in the poems especially, profound. I was proud that she counted me among her many friends.
During the long holiday time, I’ve finally had time to give full attention to my memories of Laura. It had completely escaped me, until reading other posts that I, and my husband of the time, helped Laura to record the master tape of You Get Proud by Practicing, as well as her collection of poems based on her experiences in Nairobi. I still have those cassettes. That was the first of many times that I was touched not only by Laura’s intellect, but her grace, humor, compassion and righteous anger. Each year, I would read the end of year letters, and seeing all that both she and Robin had done, give myself a good talking to about “what’s in your way of doing what you need and want to do!” I wish I could say I always rose to the motivation her life and her life with Robin spurred me to each new year, but I did try and this new year will remind myself again to move along with what matters. In grateful remembrance…
I have been privileged to have been one of Laura’s attendants for the last five years, and to have been present for her final day. Laura had a way of encouraging every person she encountered to find and express their truest voice. So in that spirit I’d like to share a poem I wrote to her:
Near the end, you said you trusted me to be your voice.
Near the end, you said you trusted me with your body.
Years ago you hired me.
Became my boss.
And I was afraid. I was afraid of my own stumbling.
I was afraid of my awkward, clumsy hands with knife and fork as I loaded bites of burrito.
I was afraid that my incompetence or discomfort would show,
I was sure you would fire me.
But you patiently firmly corrected my mistakes.
You asked and required me to learn my own body so that I could safely move yours through space.
You allowed me various windows into your world.
At first just dinner to bedtime.
Then trips to work and theater.
With time I met your family and friends. You introduced me.
I no longer thought I would be fired, but I wondered if you liked me.
Then you wrote me a letter of recommendation. Watching out for me while you and Robin went adventuring to Berkeley.
You called me “thoroughly trustworthy”
And so when we met again I began to hope that we would be friends.
And when you introduced your daughter I fell in love.
I fell in love with your newly forming family.
You discovered my willingness if not eagerness to read aloud.
First books to your daughter
Then one memorable day
Poetry to you
You allowed me to read your fledgling works aloud for flow and cadence
So, on that final day I mused aloud that I wished for a book of poetry
But in hospitals such things are not handy
so we talked of small daily things
Most vividly you described Shannon’s beauty dancing on the beach in California.
Then, in the end, you said you trusted me to be your voice.
You said you trusted me with your body.
And I felt so honored and so loved.
I can’t tell you how much both you and Laura influenced me, and encouraged me to be a free thinker for our movement, even when it’s difficult and makes waves. I’ve always felt encouraged by Laura in this way, and her support has always been deeply appreciated. Laura was so brilliant, and so passionate, and so generous with her gifts.
And you two as a couple, has been so good for me and Ginny to see. I never got over being a little “star struck” by you two, but you’ve both been role models for me, and for us.
I am so sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine how it feels, and wish you could be spared the pain.