Laura had friends, as most people do. She had many-too numerous to mention in a post such as this.
We've had mutual friends throughout the years, the boys from the old school (think croquet), the Crowders from Mebane, the Jaycees in Newberry, etc.
Here, I'd like to touch on just a couple. While this does not discount any of the many people that she called her friends, these two that I speak of are ones that she held near and dear and kept in constant contact with.
We met Martha in the early 90s while shooting a music video for the DARE program for the Newberry County School District Gifted and Talented Program. Martha had written a song called "I'm Too Cool" which was an anti-drug statement aimed at rural kids. Unlike most 'just say no' messages at the time, this one targeted kids who didn't live on the mean streets of a big city. While drugs weren't a huge problem for our county (thanks to programs like DARE and the excellent law enforcement this county has enjoyed), there was always a threat of drugs infiltrating this peaceful, rural community. A music video that targeted and featured local kids was the right prescription for getting the message out that drugs were not the answer. Martha had brought along a producer/director, Kimberly J Miller, recently from California into the project and soon we were rehearsing kids for the leads, scouting locations and gathering the equipment needed to accomplish our project. After many pre-production meetings, the shoot got underway. We had about 30 actors, singers and dancers rehearsed and ready to roll. While Kim directed and choreographed and I provided lighting and camera, Laura was assigned the ominous task of Line Producer. For those unfamilier with the term, a Line Producer's job consists of, well, everything else. Need a golf cart for a certain location? Ask the line producer. Need a crane for a certain shot? Ask your line producer. Need to ferry actors to and from locations? You get the picture. Laura was absolutely flawless in this position. Her proven sales ability allowed her to wheel and deal almost anything we needed out of local business owners and government leaders. For the crane, she had one day's notice. Next day the crane was parked exactly where we needed it. Awesome woman!
Martha, meanwhile, as the composer and guitarist/harmonica player, was also featured in the video. She had some downtime between takes and would stand with Laura to keep her company. They developed a rapport and soon became friends.
The shoot lasted over 30 days. Locations included the old Newberry Opera House (at the time still in a state of decay, Community Hall, a logging truck bed, basketball court, dairy farm, Wal Mart, an old barn, downtown Prosperity and Whitmire, SC and Martha's front porch. By the end of the shoot and edit, the four of us were exhausted. Kim and I worked on editing, finished the piece and picked a premier date and finally collapsed. It was decided that the four of us, by now fast friends, would take a trip to the beach to renew.
And so we did.
Since then, Martha and Laura became friends and confidants. When Martha moved to Virginia we would often visit her. While Laura and Martha hung out and caught up on life, I would travel the Civil War trails of the area. When Laura and I had some marital difficulties, Martha was her refuge. After Martha moved backed to SC, we often went over for 'graze and float', eating chicken and swimming. When Martha started playing gigs again in SC, Laura tried as often as possible to be there. I'd have to say that Martha was her closest friend since they had known one another so long. And then there's...
So Laura started working at a place called Medi Home Care as a receptionist. She got the job through her friend at a temp agency and the original offer was 25 hours per week while working for the temp agency. After that contract expired, she was to be offered a full time position with full benefits. Those assheads lied to her over and over and never gave her what they promised, which included health coverage...but I digress. There was a lovely young lady working there that Laura took a sudden liking to. She would come home with "Rachel" stories nearly every day, each story crazier than the previous one. Soon, I had to meet this Rachel. She was everything that I had heard and then some. Outrageous, outspoken, out there! Just like Laura. Soon, Laura was coming home with weird coincidence stories. "Did you know that Rachel and Dan lived in a log home? Did you know that Rachel has a sister near Winston Salem like I do? Did you know that her favorite food is..." Almost every day I would hear another strange coincidence that would link these two. They were almost like twins separated at birth. Next thing I know, Laura is calling her after work and chatting for hours. It became a regular thing. Next was "I'm going out for drinks with the girls". I was happy that Laura was doing more than just working and going home to TV. She had her regular Tuesday night trip with Martha to hear her and Freddie play in Union. The rest of the week was, if Fiona wasn't visiting, the girls were going out to dinner or drinks, or both. Laura was finally beginning to enjoy life again in a social way. When Ruth E passed away, Laura withdrew into a social shell. She was happy with family gatherings, and she was excited about her weekly trips and the occasional Saturdays with Martha at the pool. Now, she was getting out again, dining and drinking with new friends, bitching about work and I could see her coming back to life.
Just minutes after Laura passed away, I was standing in the ICU hallway next to the elevator. I was still in a state of shock and disbelief. I hear the elevator door open and Rachel walks out, tears streaming down her face. "I'm too late aren't I", she says. I nodded. She grabbed me in a tight hug and we cried together.
Since then, we have talked and cried on the phone several times, and will continue to for the foreseeable future. Rachel and her husband Dan have found a place in my heart, thanks to the lovely Laura Reid.