I vividly remember the day that I met Lauren. It was our very first day as freshmen at the University of Indianapolis back in 2001. We were both late to our Fundamentals of 2D Design class. From the parking lot we both parked in separate areas, but our paths converged at the walkway leading to the main entrance of the Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center. Neither uttered a thing other than a brief "hi," though we continued walking the same path. Through the doors, through the hallway, up the stairs, and into the same class room. We realized we were both going to the same class. Upon entering, there were students at every seat. There was one table with two empty seats at the very back of the room. Lauren moved first and I followed. We decided we were friends and sat together despite being two totally different people from different worlds having lived different life experiences. I was nervous, and scared. But Lauren helped me feel at ease. She was gentle, charismatic, and always had something to talk about. Over the four years as students our friendship grew stronger and stronger. Even as our majors drifted us apart we always found a way to connect. As I prepared for my career in design, Lauren continued her studies to pursue other things.
There was a brief moment that we disconnected from each other as I got lost in my dead end career and Lauren continued her studies. I even missed her wedding and she missed some of my early business ventures. One day we reconnected and began to hang out again. She'd come over and we'd reminisce about our college years and listen to music. She would turn me onto some of her favs like Wesley Willis, Sharon Jones, and Andrew Bird among many others. I'd turn her on to some of my favorites like Heartless Bastards, Tennis, and St. Vincent. We'd even go see many of these acts live together. One day we decided we needed to be together like the old days so we decided to open an art studio. In December of 2009, we moved into the Murphy Arts Center and opened Two-Thirds Studio. Through that 5-year run, we did so much for our art careers. It helped me launch Nopal Cultural and my curatorial career.
We closed Two-Thirds Studio and I made the decision to continue to push Nopal Cultural before setting out on my own. I remained in constant contact with Lauren and we continued to collaborate. I helped her with designing Sycamore School's yearbooks a few years, she helped me hand stitch icing onto my concha sculpture. She'd text me about punctuation on poster designs. I'd text her about my silly ideas. One thing that was consistent with Lauren, was that she always believed in me and my success. She constantly praised and lifted me, often giving me strength when I was feeling weak, inspiration when I was uninspired, and perspective when I was disoriented. She often called me her art husband.
A little over a month ago, Lauren went into the ER after suffering a severe allergic reaction to a medication she had been prescribed. It was determined that she had contracted Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, a rare but life threatening skin condition. This syndrome caused almost her entire body to break out in painful rashes. She was treated with prednisone. She responded to the treatment well and was released from the hospital several days later. The following weeks showed improvement and Lauren’s skin began to clear up. In the following month Lauren experienced days in which she felt tired and weak, however, being her usual self, she pushed on and made the best of every moment. Last Sunday her sister Camille visited and noticed something unusual about Lauren. She put her smart watch on Lauren and found that her blood pressure was dangerously high. That evening, Lauren was taken to the ER. She was later admitted and a series of tests were done to determine what was going on. Throughout her stay, Lauren was in pain and felt nauseous. She was given medication for nausea and small amounts of morphine for the pain. Fluids were administered via IV. Thursday morning, Lauren got out of her bed to use the bathroom. She collapsed. Unfortunately, the hospital staff was unable to resuscitate her. Lauren is an organ donor. Though she’s no longer here physically, parts of her will continue to live on and help other people’s lives. She will also continue to live on through all the people she touched as we look toward tomorrow carrying her memory in our hearts.
If you were touched by Lauren's beautiful spirit, you are invited to attend her celebration of life. Details can be found here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/lauren-ditchley-celebration-of-life-tickets-357576309367?utm-campaign=social&utm-content=attendeeshare&utm-medium=discovery&utm-term=listing&utm-source=cp&aff=escb