Laura Jane, beloved daughter of Bob and Rosita and dear sister of Christine was born January 20th, 1987 at Grace Hospital. From the time she was born, Laura was a gentle spirit and was very easy to take care of. She was a perfect baby, more beautiful than her dolls. Everyone noticed her exquisite eyes and her elegant smile. When she began to talk, Laura said in strong tones, “My name is Wawa”, and from that day on, she was known to her close friends as “Wa”, a nickname she didn’t mind at all.

Big sister Christine took note of her baby sister Laura as well. As a toddler, Christine was happy to have her own live doll to play with. Christine was a typical toddler with a new baby sister, adoring her one moment and pushing her out of the way for attention the next. One day when Laura was an infant in her crib, Christine took advantage of mommy being in the other room on the phone. She reached into the crib, managed to get Laura out of the crib and onto the bed, then from the bed onto the floor. Mommy, having a sense that something wasn’t quite right, rushed in to find Christine blessing Laura with the Rosary, and Laura giggling and clapping as she lay on the floor looking up at her big sister. Even at a young age, Christine was a great encourager of Laura. Laura was learning to walk, and Christine held out her arms to her little sister, beckoning her to walk. “Come on Laura”, said Christine, and Laura came walking into her sister’s arms. Big sister hugged and kissed her in congratulations, before the toddler in her took over and she pushed Laura to the floor.

That sisterly bond was strong throughout Laura’s life. There were the usual discussions about who would do the dishes, sisterly disagreements here and there, but above all, the love between these two sisters was like no other. The incredible outward beauty of both Christine and Laura is a reflection of a much deeper inward beauty the sister’s shared between them. A beauty that was instilled in them by a mom and dad who loved their girls deeply. They showed that love in gentleness of spirit and constant support and encouragement. And of course with an abundance of hugs and kisses, which Laura loved to give and loved to receive.

Laura loved her family very much and enjoyed being together with them, whether on shopping expeditions, going to movies or on walks, or visiting with her many uncles, aunts and cousins. Laura especially loved going with her dad when he went on errands, and was always thoughtful in bringing back a treat for her sister. Laura’s giving nature came from her parents. Last October, it was Bob’s love of his family that motivated him to leave his job, accepting a buyout in order to spend more time with his daughters during their teenage years. It is a decision he is so glad he made. The extra time spent together this past year is time that will always be cherished.

When Laura was four years old, the family moved to their house on Chambers Street. As a very young child, Laura told her mom that she saw the Virgin Mary come into the home and said that everything would be safe because the Virgin Mary was present.

Laura began kindergarten, attending Cunningham Elementary School. It was very clear right from the start that she was a dedicated, talented student, who drew classmates to her in her own quiet way. One day her teacher, Miss Loellyn saw a big group of students gathered around Laura’s desk. She was working on a little project and the other students were very taken with her meticulous work and attention to detail. They were, however, causing interruptions for Laura, who wanted to do her work. So Miss Loellyn set up a visitation system. On Monday, one student would be allowed to sit with Laura, on Tuesday, another student, on Wednesday, yet another. That way, she wouldn’t have a crowd gathering around her as she tried to work. Throughout her Elementary and High School years, Laura continued to draw students to her through her kindness, her gentleness and her love. Many students returned that love, and this past week honoured their friendship with Laura, and honoured Laura’s life with a memorial at Gladstone Secondary School, where Laura attended as well as Christine. They also came together this past Monday to gather and pay tribute to their much-loved high school friend and classmate.

Laura started playing Soccer with older girls when she was 5 years old. It was evident right from the start she had a special talent and likeness for the game. Laura, even though generally a quiet girl, was very competitive. She didn’t just become competitive all on her own. Mom and Dad encouraged her to develop her skills, and did so by offering incentives for scoring goals. One game, Dad told Laura that he would begin with $2.00 per goal, and for each successive goal, would double her reward. Well, $2.00 became $4.00. $4.00 became $8.00, and $8.00 became $16.00. Another game, the incentive was $5.00 per goal. When the game was over, Laura jokingly pointed out that she had earned $20.00 that day. Whether she got the money or not was never the issue. She was simply proud to be doing her best. Of course, Dad always did pay up.

Laura continued to play Community soccer and School Soccer for the next 10 years, winning a spot on the 2001-2002 Under-15 “Gold” Vancouver Dunbar “Magic” soccer team. Laura had a soft-spoken voice, but a strong will and determination to succeed in everything she did.

Laura was an excellent student who loved to read. She had a great role model in her older sister Christine. Laura wanted to keep up with her older sister, and would be in tears if she didn’t quite make it. Bob took the girls skating and Cross-country skiing at Cyprus Bowl. Laura, with her shorter legs would be behind the rest, and certainly did not like that very much. It never took long, however for her to catch up to her sister in the endeavours they undertook. Christine and Laura were truly best friends, and shared in many activities together, like Gymnastics and Music. Bob and Rose were so proud when Christine and Laura were singing together in the same choir.

Laura loved to learn. She did not necessarily like to be taught, however. She simply loved to learn. When Rose told her that she had arranged for piano lessons, Laura said, “Why waste money on a teacher, mommy, I can teach myself.” Rose told her that she had already paid for the month, so why not take the lessons. “Okay”, said Laura, “but after this month, don’t waste your money.” After that month, there were no more lessons, and Laura taught herself to play the piano, and also the guitar.

Laura, Christine and good friend Sonia enjoyed playing Nexus, a computer game. It was a release for them from the hectic school years. Not only did it improve their typing and English skills through the poetry contests they entered, it provided the three of them with many wonderful times together.

Laura always wanted a dog, but had a slight fear of dogs from a bad experience when she was a small child. When she was ten, Laura began as a volunteer at the City Dog Pound, walking dogs in order to help her get over her fear. A couple of years later, Laura’s cousin Richmond brought a little black lab puppy over to the house. Laura and Christine hid the puppy as they thought their dad wouldn’t let them keep her. The next morning, however, everyone heard the whining and whimpering of the puppy and the secret was revealed. Of course, it was love at first sight for the entire family, and Ayla was there to stay. Laura did have a condition placed on Ayla’s membership in the family. If at any time the puppy exhibited a mean streak, she would not be allowed to stay. So Laura took it upon herself to train Ayla, and to this day, Ayla has Laura’s spirit of gentleness and kindness and compassion. Ayla became Laura’s best companion with not an ounce of badness in her. It was Laura’s dream and ambition to become a Veterinarian. Undoubtedly, Laura is now joyfully caring for God’s Heavenly creatures.

On Wednesday, June 19th, Laura went to see the doctor, as she had not been feeling well the previous few days. On Thursday, June 20th, Laura was diagnosed with Leukemia and admitted to Children’s Hospital. Her strength of spirit and concern for her family during this time were ever present. Laura was not one to complain. She quietly carried on her fight, enduring much pain with incredible courage, along with the constant support of her family, a family she loved with all her heart. She was so very brave.

Just 22 days after she was diagnosed, Laura left us very suddenly. Her pain and her suffering were over, and in an instant, she was at Peace.

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away.”

To all of you who loved Laura in so many special ways, whether family, friends, teachers, neighbours, classmates, and who experienced Laura’s grace and love, I’m sure the following words, offered by her Dad, will also express some of your thoughts and feelings today as well.

I find an old photograph
And see your smile.
As I feel your presence anew,
I am filled with warmth
And my heart remembers love.
I read an old card sent many years ago.
The soothing words written then
Still caress my spirit and bring me peace.
I remember who you used to be
The laughter we shared
And wonder what you have become.
Where are you now,
Where did you go,
When the body is left behind
And the spirit is released to fly?
Perhaps you are the morning bird,
Singing joyfully at sunrise,
Or the butterfly that dances
So carelessly on the breeze
Or the rainbow of colors
That brightens a stormy sky
Or the fingers of afternoon mist
Delicately reaching over the mountains
Or the final few rays of the setting sun
Lighting up the skies
Edging the clouds with a magical glow.
I miss your being
But I feel your presence
In whatever form you choose to take,
However you now choose to be.
Your spirit has become for me
A Guardian Angel on high
Guiding, advising, and watching over me.
I remember you.
You are with me
And I am not afraid.

Beautiful Angel, we love you, we miss you dearly. May you Rest in Peace, Sweet, Gentle Laura.

Written and Read by Gail Suderman, With Love. Previous Music Teacher of Laura and Christine, Gladstone Secondary School.