To be completely honest, I'm not sure what I want to say to you all.
I guess I'll start my explaining my relation to Lauren. I am a student at the University of Iowa, and I had the privilege of spending my spring break with Lauren this past March in Israel. While Lauren and Rebecca were not on my bus, I spent everyday with both of them, working and volunteering during our spring break time off from school.
I could tell right away that she was a fun, uplifting, and generous person. During our nightly free time, we would all gather together in our hostel or hotel and socialize. There were a few nights in particular where I stayed up with a group of people, Lauren being one of them. I cannot say that either Lauren or Rebecca know me all that well, however, Lauren's disappearance has touched me immensely.
One of my friends from the trip (who happens to be from New York and attends Indiana University as well) called me the day that Lauren went missing. She was also spending her summer at IU and was extremely distraught. She explained to me that she was coming to Chicago because the feeling of being in Bloomington was absolutely unbearable. Nicole made her way to the north suburbs and we sat at a restaurant, speechless. There were nothing to say to each other, nothing to fill the void of a fellow Alternative Spring Break participant that had gone missing. We both had so many questions and so many different emotions. Not a day goes by that I don't think about Lauren... her smile, her pep, and her zest for life.
The past four years that I have spent on a big ten campus have been nothing short of amazing. I, myself, have been guilty of walking home from the bars late at night, alone. I honestly never thought twice about it. Iowa City is mainly a safe environment, like Bloomington, but all it takes is one second for something to go wrong. Since Lauren's disappearance, my awareness on campus has heightened immensely. I make sure that I am never walking alone at night, and I also warn my friends of the dangers that this can possess. If one of my friends wants to leave the bars at night, I make sure to leave with her so that neither of us will have to walk alone. Also, when I'm studying late at the library I make sure to have a ride or a friend to walk home with. Even during broad daylight, I am aware of my surroundings to and from class. What happened to Lauren is constantly on my mind.
I am not a parent, so I cannot possibly understand the pain and struggles that you are experiencing every second of everyday. I am a sister, however, and the thought of my brother or sister vanishing without a trace makes me nauseous. I do want to let you all know that I think of you always. I feel for you, and pray for the best. You all have so much strength and integrity. Charlene, watching you speak on the live stream of #Shine4Lauren brought tears to my eyes. You have so much "chutzpah" as my mother would say. I read all of the newsletters your family writes and try to stay in the know as much as possible. Please don't give up!!
WE WILL #FINDLAUREN!
All of my love and support from Deerfield, IL,