Laurie Whalen Rockstar Memorial Fund
The LW Rock Star Memorial Fund a.k.a Lauri Jean is dedicated to the love and support around us that Laurie showed every day. She was a boogie queen, forever in love with the music of Michael Franti and Spearhead. She inspired the Laurie Whalen Rock Star Memorial Fund as we hope to share just as much positive energy and love as Laurie would have given. Every dollar donated goes to granting wishes of those with special needs to attend a special concert with Michael Franti and his band.
All the World’s Her Stage – Lauries First Concert With Michael Franti
Like a cat snubbing her nose at dry cat food in search of caviar, Laurie held her head high, pranced as if she were walking on water, left me in the dust, and marched her beautiful booty to the very front of the stage. The crowd exploded. Magic filled her entire being and the song “Sound of Sunshine” released her. She was a cross between twenty Oompa Loompa’s and eighteen Edyta Sliwinskas from Dancing with the Stars. She wiggled and swayed, shimmied and shook; her arms became a wind-up toy octopus on steroids, moving in all directions to the beat of the music. She tossed her short locks of hair as if they were tresses of gold from a Dove hair conditioner commercial. Her smile stretched from ear to ear like a Cheshire cat who had at last found her boundless supply of caviar. Her feet commanded her body to move as if she were as light as a cloud and wisps of air were whirling her, raising her up, twirling her to the pulse of the music.
Michael, Jay, and the audience ignited something that had long been smoldering inside her. The sea of faces she looked out on embraced her unconditionally. Cell phones lit up the crowd as they captured her on film. Hands rose as if reaching for her enchantment. In her mind, she was the star attraction and she aimed to please.
A volt of confusion surged through me. Who is this round bundle of energy? Is this my sister, the cat-like creature aloof and unreachable at times? I laughed, held back tears, my breath stopped. No longer lost, Laurie was found. I felt as if Laurie and I were alone experiencing flashbacks of the happiness and innocence we experienced so many years ago dancing in her room. I was filled with so much joy my heart felt like it barely had room to beat.
As the song “Say Hey (I Love You)” ended, Laurie bowed, guiding her arms full circle as she flicked her hair to infinity.
Michael yelled, “Laurie!” and gestured her over to him. He then cloaked Laurie Jean’s 4’2” frame with an embrace that rocked the audience to the core of their being, their roars of glee bounced off the walls and ceiling.
The words of Michael’s song “I love you , I love you, I love you,” were the words that I hoped I could telepathically touch each person with in the audience because every person there had changed Laurie’s life and mine that night.
Laurie bowed as if the limelight was on her and her alone. Our hearts were on fire. Her dimming spot light was now brilliant and lit up our lives.
After taking her bows, Hossain gently guided us off stage right. Nope, she wasn’t going to have anything to do with that. She wasn’t leaving this party clearly thrown for her. I redirected her stage left, thinking the familiarity might encourage her exit. She did “The Plop.” Imagine a large brown bear being hit by a sleeping dart. She injected the cellulose fibers of her back end into the grains of the stage. Laurie became an immovable force of nature.
“Oh no, I’m going have to get Chewbacca to come help get you off stage. The entire Star Wars cast will need to bring the force to move you,” my mental self-talk screamed. “I don’t want to employ the catch and release which is me holding on to you like a wrestler from the WWE.” I’d have to explain to Michael, Jay, and Hossain and adoring fans why I was sitting on Laurie and that yes in fact she could breathe.
“I’ll get you a Dr. Pepper,” I said in a panic. Nothing. No movement.
(She was addicted to 20 oz diet Dr. Pepper’s only in plastic bottles. I had brought some to the show for emergencies such as this.)
“’I’ll take you to the bathroom?” This she responded to!
I coaxed her up and while our back ends exited, the audience of sixteen hundred applauded.
We snaked our way through her admirers and the Laurie show continued.
“You were amazing,” said one.
“You are a rock star,” gushed another.
“Can I have your autograph?” begged a new found groupie.
During that walk to her throne, over one hundred people complimented her.
A complete stranger in the waves of admirers stood out. Her words and genuine expression of emotion released my pent up tears.
“That was magical,” she sighed and directed her enthusiasm at me.
My floodgate of emotion burst and I sobbed a river of tears. All the suppressed stress from all those years just washed from my soul. I was held so tight by this stranger it was like Blue the Bear from the movie Jungle Book had emerged to embrace me and to assure me that I was not alone. I will never forget that woman. My sighs of sorrow were released and replaced with relief. My tears flowed as we picked our way to our friends. My waterfall continued as I floated in a pool of awe. I was held in the arms of my family and friends. We were all crying and feeling empowered with hope.
Laurie had not danced like that in ten years. Since the concert, she stops and dances to music, she talks more, she is more engaged, she is more at peace.
Aldous Huxley said, “After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” The concert gave Laurie expression.
Two weeks later Laurie collapsed and was rushed in an ambulance to the ER. We feared she was having a stroke. It was pneumonia. She healed but did not fully recover and she is now on oxygen 24/7. She was thankful for each new day and would let us know so. She’d yell, “I’m alive, I’m alive!”
Michael’s song, “I’m Alive” must be carrying her through day to day. I know that song and many others are the wind beneath my wings.
She went to 4 more concerts of Michael and his band. She was on stage for 3 of those 4 (one we could not get her on stage because of snow, Hossein tried.) Each time Michael and all those around him allowed her to steal the lime light for her few moments of glory.
The loving caretaker that she was…
“I remember sitting on Joan’s deck after coming over to chit chat. Laurie was over and happily sitting on the deck with me. Joan had put pine cones on the deck and Laurie was perfectly concerned with keeping the deck clean. She would give Joan a look of concern every time a new pine cone hit the deck. Once the pine cones were cleared, Joan would add some more. Regardless of her frustration, she crawled into Joan’s lap with a big hug.”