The “Closet Girl” ~ A Memory Letter

I have been going back through some of the many letters, notes and cards we received after Lauren’s passing.  I wanted to re-read the one we received from her Boss the day of her Life Celebration Service….his “Memory Letter” of her.  I also needed a pick me up…as I have been having some sad days lately…really missing her…longing to hear her voice…her laughter…give her a hug.

Before her service that day I was introduced to Joe, her boss.  He expressed his condolences, hugged me, gave me an envelope and told me it had Lauren’s last paycheck inside….I put it in her bible that I was holding.  I wasn’t interested in her paycheck so I didn’t even open the envelope for well over a week…honestly I forgot about it.  But one day I was reading from her bible and came across it.  I opened the envelope and there was a letter inside…tri-folded.  I unfolded the first part and started reading….then unfolded the next part and two pieces of paper fell out to the floor…but I could not stop reading it….tears streaming down my face….

Mr. and Mrs. Alston, family, and friends,

I am so grateful for the time that I was fortunate enough to spend with Lauren.  She truly was an amazing person to be around, and it was easy to see that her parents had raised her right.  She was gifted in every way…she was smart, beautiful, compassionate and very funny.  I hope that one day I am able to raise a child as wonderful as Lauren. 

I first met Lauren while she was working at the golf course in Nacogdoches.  She wa still new to the job, and was trying to run the cash register for us while the telephone kept ringing off the hook.  Something about her attitude while she was handling everything caught my attention, and by the time we had gotten to the 9th hole I had decided I wanted her to work for me.  I honestly can’t say what it was, but something about her impressed me greatly. 

When she came to work for her first day, it was obvious that she had no idea what was going on, but she never complained.  If I gave her a project, she launched herself into it, and she always completed it faster than I thought humanly possible.  I don’t think she realized what an enormous help she was to the rest of my team, otherwise she surely would have asked for a raise! 

Lauren handled all of the work that was important, and needed to be done, but no one else wanted to do.  I remember someone once asked her what she did, and she replied “Whatever these guys don’t want to do.”  She had a very quick wit, which is almost a requirement for a young woman working in a mostly male office.  She could definitely give as good as she got, but she always kept it in good humor.  She was known affectionately by most as “Closet Girl”, since we had so little room in the office she actually had her desk completely in our closet. 

Lauren made quite an impression on our entire office of 80+ people, one that none of us will forget.  She had an infectious smile, a bubbly energetic attitude, and a laugh that could be heard clear across the building.  I always looked forward to the days that Lauren could come in. 

There is nothing  that I can say or do to fill the void that is left with the passing of your daughter, but I hope you will find some comfort in the knowledge that she was deeply loved by all who met her.  As a symbol of that love, I hope you will accept the enclosed offering.  Our office is like a family, and Lauren was part of that family.  We wanted to do something to help, so we all chipped in what we could.  Please use this offering to help cover the expenses associated with her passing.  We would like anything that remains after the bills have been settled to be used or donated in Lauren’s honor. 

On behalf of the EOG Field Land Office, and with our deepest condolences and all of our love,  

Joe Fernandez 

Lauren and your entire family are in all our thoughts and prayers.  Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of any assistance to you during these difficult times.

I bent to the ground and picked up the two pieces of papers.  It was her final paycheck and another check from her Boss and co-workers at EOG.  It was a very substantial check…oh my goodness…I was so shocked and cried even harder.  I was already overwhelmed from the beautiful “memory letter”…what a priceless treasure in itself….and then the check….wow…I had to sit down before I fell down.  The letter is what any parent wants to know…that their child was a good person, impacted people in a positive way, was loved and will be remembered.  

Several weeks after her service we went to the EOG office to visit with this special group of people…to thank them for their love and generosity…and to give them a Closet Plant for the office…we all laughed, cried and shared Lauren stories.

Her last paycheck and the full amount of the love donation from her boss and co-workers was combined with other monies, that were also generously and lovingly given in her memory, to endow the Stephen F. Austin State University Lauren Alston Memorial Scholarship.

About 6 months later, out of the blue, we received a big brown envelope with another letter from Joe and her co-workers.  They had been allowed to name a Gas Well in memory of Lauren.  There are actually 2 units, #1 H and #2 H, and they are in Nacogdoches County… her name is now listed in the County Courthouse records, never to be removed.  I can  just imagine her laughing about “her wells”… producing well.  We have been amazed by the love and thoughtfulness of her friends at EOG.