Thank You for Being a Friend

We met when I was the sick one. I was seventeen and Molly was fourteen. I was bedridden from a rare blood disease that paralyzed me for several years, and she was dealing with blood infections and kidney problems and a slew of other crap that no one should ever have to experience but she did, time and time again.

We were members of an online community for kids with chronic illness. We just clicked, like old, familiar souls picking up where we left off. We talked on the phone and video chatted and she visited me often at home in Kansas. She never saw my hospital bed, or my feeding pump, or my paralysis. She just hopped into bed with me and we watched scary movies and talked about boys and made plans. She was my best friend. She was my sister.

Eleven years later, we changed places. I was healthy. I was walking. And she was very sick. It was my turn to go to her. Molls had so many close calls over the years. She was born with her illness. Going to the hospital was as normal to her as going to school is for most kids. Accessing her central line was second nature, preparing medication and IV pumps and dressing changes were routine. And as much as it was a part of her, it didn’t define her. She made sure of that. She survived comas and two transplants and countless infections and surgeries, one death-defying stunt after another. I took it for granted that she would be okay. Surviving was just what she did.

In May, her mom called. She told me that this time was going to be different, and I needed to get to Omaha to be with her as quickly as possible. She had always been honest with me. “I never want either of you girls to be blindsided,” she always said. I still didn’t believe it could really be the end. It was never the end. It was always supposed to be the end and then she came back to us and it wasn’t.

I hopped into bed with her and held her hand and rested my head on her shoulder and I talked about the time we jumped the curb in Santa Monica in the middle of the night because we wanted to go to the beach. We ended up straddling the median before finally freeing ourselves. An actual entrance to the beach was like five feet away, but we didn’t notice that until we had already become criminals. And the time we went sledding with the ATVs, and the time we visited the haunted hotel where Stephen King wrote The Shining, and the time we locked Spencer out of the house and started screaming when he knocked on the window because we were afraid the real Spencer had been kidnapped and the window knocker was a Spencer imposter/serial killer. And the time we ate pie and it was my first food in five years, and the time we went to that pony show and Phoebe was bigger than most of the ponies, and the time we crammed four dogs into the Focus and the red dog was definitely trying to get us to careen off a cliff and we were like WHY DO YOU WANT TO MURDER US ALL, RED DOG? And the time, and the time, and the time…

I didn’t see the tubes or the medicines or the pumps. Just her. Just my best friend in the whole world. I sang “Thank You for Being a Friend.” The Golden Girls is our show. We planned to grow into adorable old biddies, adopt dogs and horses and alpacas and open Lauren and Molls Ranch Farm.

A few days before we lost her, she married Corey. Her nurses and doctors transformed a conference room into a beautiful wedding chapel. Her doctor, Dr. Schaffer, gave her his grandmother’s pearls to wear on her wedding day. She looked beautiful. She looked happy. Everyone was so proud and so sad and so filled with love. I was her maid of honor. I told her that she would be mine when Steven and I get married, and she will, still. I know she will be there.

The morning she died, her friend, Nona, and I wandered around the hospital in a daze. I felt an overwhelming desire to talk to Dr. Shaffer and Molly’s nurses so we went up to the 5th floor. She spent the last seven months of her life on the 5th floor solid organ transplant unit and they loved her deeply. We hugged everyone and said goodbye. They paged Dr. Shaffer and he came right away. I asked him if he believed in “something after,” if he thought there was more to us than bones and brains and organs. He confidentially replied, “Of course! Yes. We are all atoms and molecules and energy. Nothing ever dies. We go back to where we came from and we are a part of everything.” According to a man of science who relies on proof and test results and measurable evidence to make informed life or death decisions on a daily basis, we’re all recycled and our energy echoes forever. I’ll take it.

Molly was about sharing, recycling, living and loving and taking one and passing it down. She gave radio and television interviews from her hospital room to help promote organ donation awareness up until the very end. Back in 2006 and 2007, she received a small bowel from a deceased donor, and her mom gave her a kidney. These gifts, as Molly always referred to them, bought her precious time. Instead of dying at seventeen, she moved to Los Angeles and lived close to me; went to school; rescued her beloved Great Dane, Lyla; saved a dog named Honey and helped find her a happy home; she stood up for me; she met her future husband; she went to Paris; she worked at a vet’s office; she made friends; she walked dogs; she had some close calls, survived them all; watched her mom marry her step dad; she said goodbye to our friend and we cried and missed him but felt he would always be with us; she made funny videos with her brother; rode her horse, Bali; participated in Donate Life events; helped me eat a stranger’s cheesecake at a weird nightclub in Pacific Palisades that reminded me of Eyes Wide Shut, without all the naked people; indoor skydived (dove?) with Corey; dropped her iPhone in a crosswalk and watched a large, ill-timed bus run a yellow light and smash it into a million pieces and she went to parties and laughed a lot and flipped off shitty drivers and she loved her Corgi, Tegan, and her cat, Schmidt, and my service dog, (her God dog,) Phoebe, and we ate at Grub and Cha Cha Chicken and Urth and we were silly we laughed about things that only we understand and she got married and she lived really, really, really well. She packed ten lifetimes into those years.  She wanted everyone to have that chance.

We used to say we were old souls meant for a different time. The 1920’s and 30’s, we thought, would suit us well, when people were a bit kinder and calmer and men held doors for ladies and ladies had cute Flappery accents and used words like “gams.” I think, mostly, we appreciated good manners. We sort of lived like twenty-something Golden Girls, spending Friday nights eating food and watching movies and taking a crap ton of medications and really appreciating a good night’s rest. We called ourselves “The Packard Hags.” We were going to own a Packard automobile one day, we said, and we would drive around town in big fancy hats and try out all different kinds of accents. After she passed away, I looked up the meaning of the Packard symbol. The hood emblem depicts a woman called the Goddess of Speed, flying, reaching, moving forward, quickly and with purpose.

“Tonight, I hope all of you have a wonderful time, whether you go out or just chill at home. It's our chance to start all new. See big things happen and say, "2013 was a ______ year? Wasn't it!” Let's make that _____  positive. Do things for others you wouldn't normally do, spend more time people you may not stop to think of much, stop to be in the moment, walk in other people's shoes for a second or two! Hopefully if people can shift their attitudes and be grateful and happy about just being healthy and being here, then more people awaiting transplants like me will get them and that will give more opportunity to make even MORE happy and grateful for what they got. Love you all so much! Xo”

- Molly, 12/31/12

To learn more about Molly, her legacy, and how you can help assist transplant families waiting for the gift of life, please visit the Molly Pearce-Eaker Foundation. Visit to get the facts on organ donation, and to register to become a donor.

The Film

Don't Pet Me, I'm Working is a feature-length documentary starring Phoebe the service dog and Lauren the human. From a hospital bed in Kansas, to a maximum security prison, to Hollywood, California, Don't Pet Me, I'm Working follows the many adventures, trials, and tribulations, of two friends with unlikely stories.

"Sit. Stay. Walk on."

Don't Pet Me, I'm Working- Trailer from Lauren on Vimeo.

Letters from Phoebe: A Series

(Ed. Note: The following is the first in a series of monthly installments called Letters From My St. Bernard Service Dog, Phoebe, During Her Year Off Traveling Abroad. It is, as you might guess, a collection of written correspondence between Phoebe and me as she travels the world and finds herself. Speaking of travel, doesn't your dog deserve to live each day in the comfort and luxury of the Dog Ritz Carlton? Check out for all your stylish dog crate/gate/toy box/crate training needs!)

October 5, 2012

Dear Lauren,

Well, I’ve made it. Paris is everything I thought it would be. I write you from a balcony overlooking the river Seine, or, I should say, “La Seine.” I think you were right; I think taking this time for myself is important. The rat race, the wearisome monotony of everyday life was becoming too much for my temerarious spirit. I know that my profession is a noble one and I have dedicated my life to a worthy cause. It’s just that, well, my newfound freedom has opened my eyes to the possibilities that lie before me. There is more to life than a career, after all! I plan to savor every moment of my travels and the decadent adventure that is sure to follow. Thank you for sensitively recognizing my need for a sabbatical. Though my keen sense of smell alerts you to detrimental chemical changes in your blood and brain, and your reliance on my strong, capable dog body makes it possible for you to balance, move about, and function as a productive member of society, I- What was I saying? I was talking about how much I help you in your life but there was something more. I was going to flatter you with a compliment. Oh! Even though I save your life, often, and I am the one with the otherworldly, psychic talents that regularly elicit “oohs!” and “aahs!” from strangers on the street, this time, champ, you were the one with the spot-on intuition.  

I toured the expansive grounds today at Luxembourg Gardens. I stopped to admire a particularly fragrant cluster of pansies when I noticed a young woman and her canine companion. Though the woman appeared able-bodied and strong, I was reminded of you. I made my way to the theatre des marionnettes and was amused by the pint-sized humans and their love of canine toys attached to human man hands. I was glad to have my camera ready when a miniature Napoleon danced his way onto the stage and seemed to wave in my general direction!

I plan to write again, soon, and regale you with tales of Champs-Elysées, the Francois Truffaut Cinema Library, and Disneyland Paris! Can you imagine? Until then, please remember to take your medication, and use your wheelchair if you are feeling fatigued. Oh, goodness, listen to me going on and on. I must remind myself that I am on vacation! 

Louvre, (LOL,)


Do you enjoy DIY projects? Do you appreciate a fine, well crafted fence when you see one? Have the fanciest fence on the block! Check out Dog Fence DIY

When we were kids, my sister and I liked to pretend we were international spies. I went by codename “Red Dog 3,” Morgan by “Tango 6.” Together, we explored far away lands, did very exciting far away things, and rescued good guys from the clutches of their villainous captors (homework permitting.) We communicated via walky talky and went on secret missions around the neighborhood, racing our bikes down the street with binoculars and Nerf guns in tow. Always imagining we were somewhere else.

I was twelve when I got sick. It felt like a gunshot to the gut, a horribly painful year and a half that got much worse before it got better. What started as an unexplained stomach pain quickly morphed into a different monster. I spent years in my hospital bed and imagined I was somewhere else.

Recovery was slow and steady. After years of paralysis, I needed to build muscle. Sitting upright was painful, at first. Gravity caused my legs to swell and my blood pressure to plummet. Everything throbbed. Eventually, though, it got easier, and I was able to spend more and more time in my motorized wheelchair and out of my bed. My dad took me on long drives through the country and we listened to Bob Seger’s Roll Me Away over and over again. It became my anthem. “I could go East, I could go West, it was all up to me to decide...” 

I put a lot of miles on my wheelchair that first year back in the land of the living. At night, I took walks with my family and friends, iPod and tiny boom box bumping, shadow dancing in the dark. Dreaming all the while of a city by the sea, and imagining I was there.

Once I regained enough strength to care for myself, I moved to Los Angeles. My parents were unbelievably brave and kind to let me go, after years of caring for me like an infant and praying I would have a life at all. And so I went, off in search of a rebuilt life of my own making. I didn’t realize until later that none of it was of my own making, and my freedom was made possible by the people and the home and the lessons that shaped me.

I loved the chaos of Los Angeles and the millions of sights and smells and sounds and souls that made it feel like a living, breathing thing. At night, especially, I loved to explore the nooks and crannies that hid in plain sight; secret passageways that lead to truths and stories long forgotten. But some nights, before I fell asleep in my overpriced studio apartment, I thought about home, and family, and midnight walks (rolls?) in my wheelchair with my dad. I remembered the freedom I felt when I took off down the street, music and streetlights leading the way. I’d fall asleep and dream I was someplace else.

One night, on a recent visit home, I took a walk with my Mom and Phoebe. Our shadows followed us and danced beneath the flickering, orange street lamps. I thought about all that had changed, and all that, thankfully, had remained the same. And I didn’t want to be anywhere else.

Arya Stark and Jon Snow. And their dire wolves. And oh my God I'm getting more ashamed the more I write.

Sometimes we dress up like characters from George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones.

Modern Dog (gets me to the church on time)

Vote Phoebe for President! And by President I mean dog winner of this dog contest!

I Dig Your Dog Blog

My nice friend over at Exiled from Contentment has honored me with an award! An award, I tell you! Hooray! Many thanks, E.F. Contentment, for the "I Dig Your Blog" Award! Phoebe extends her gratitude and best wishes, as well. Also, she requests an in-depth review of the 1993 dogudrama, Beethoven.

The conditions of my shiny new award stipulate that I must share three facts about myself and then pass the torch of honor (let's go ahead and call it an honor torch) to five other people. Since this blog is as much Phoebe's as it is mine, it's only fair that I share three things about the both of us. So, here are our three things, followed by the passing of the honor torch.

Three Lauren Things:

1.) I don't like soup. I feel a soup is more a chunky beverage than it is a meal, and frankly, I don't appreciate it. "Hi, I'm soup. I'm totally a food." No, soup, you're not. You're nothing but a warm, savory beverage filled with floating chunks of soggy vegetable medley. I can't drink you because your chunks would choke me. I can't eat you because your liquid gets in the way of your chunks. I believe your mind games are a symptom of a bigger problem, soup; one rooted in your inability to get close to people and be yourself.

2.) I love history. I think it's so neat that right now, I am sitting on the exact spot that someone once sat like eighty years ago. I mean, not on this couch, but in this apartment. Sometimes, I google old photographs of places that still exist, today, and I drive to those places and take pictures and put the old picture and the new picture side by side. Sometimes I think I believe in reincarnation and wonder if I was alive in another time.

3.) Johnny Cash is my hero.

Three Phoebe Things:

1.) An Aquarius, Phoebe was born on February 15th, 2007 to Maddie and Dura Max Diesel.

2.) Her ideal man: Barry, the great and noble St. Bernard dog of the North. Also, Hugh Jackman.

3.) She likes to hold hands.

And now, what we've all been waiting for... I get to say honor torch again! And present awards to the following blogs! Hells yes, boi! (Sorry.)

Hidden Los Angeles
Ghosts and shadows and stories.

Confessions of a CF Husband
A miracle family.

Very Short Novels
Less is more.

Shutter Sisters
Camera toting women, unite!

One Girl, One Novel
Wanda Shapiro: Author/indie publisher extraordinaire.

Fist bumps and secret handshakes to all!