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Condolence Book

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Lauren Raiani Lattimer wrote on 21 January 2021 at 9:08 pm
Emma was my best friend when she lived in New York back when we were kids. We went to the same church, Suffern Presbyterian Church and my mom (Joan Raiani) and Doreen became good friends, along with Leslie Ayre and several others. Emma was a grade ahead of me and she went to Cherry Lane Elementary while I went to Connor Elementary.

Emma and I had sleepovers all the time. I was always amazed by her parentsโ€™ English accents (Emma didn't have one!) and remember how her Dad ate with the fork the wrong way (from my 8 yr old American perspective)! I remember her big brother Matthew too and how we thought his room was really cool, like little sisters tend to.

At my house, we had an old VHS of a Beach Boys concert that Emma and I would watch at sleepovers. The lead singer was Mike Love and 9 yr old Emma, put her hand on her forehead and pretended to faint on the pull out couch we were sleeping on in my living room because she thought he was so "dreamy". We bounced around and sang the songs and ate popcorn. Emma had a big personality and always had me laughing, even as kids.

At church, we did the play "We Like Sheep" together along with the Ayre's and the other church kids. Emma was the star of the show, Eunice, the baby sheep. We had to perform that play in church, at nursing homes, at the street fair and everyone adored Emma in it.

I was so sad when I found out Emma was moving to England. She slept at my house one of the last nights in the states and we said our goodbyes. We vowed to be friends forever and to become penpals.

Emma and I did a really good job of writing to each other (back in the old pre-internet days). I still have some of these letters. Emma would send me her school photo and tell me I had to write back, and tell me all about her life in England. She would ask about my siblings and cousins and even wrote a mini letter within her letter for my little sister. We mailed letters back and forth for years. As time passed, so did our main forms of communication. Hand-written letters turned into emails which eventually evolved into Facebook comments, tags and messenger.

Emma came back to the States a couple of times in our teenage years and we were all shocked she had an English accent! Haha. She talked about buying "blue jeans" when she came here to take back home. Apparently, these were hard to come by in England?

When I was in college, I studied in London for a semester in Spring 2004. I was so excited to visit Emma. We planned it all out that I would visit her for her 22nd birthday. I couldn't believe I was finally seeing her after all this time and so many letters later. She even let me drive her car! Only in a parking lot, thankfully for both of our safety. We went out to a bar in Hereford, I believe, for her birthday and she had like 20 friends meet up! We danced and sang songs like โ€œI Believe in a Thing Called Loveโ€ by the Darkness. She said her friends kept referring to me as โ€œthe Yankโ€ which made me laugh a lot. We had the best time and probably drank too much. We stayed up that night chatting til 4am, covering years of topics all in one conversation!!

On that trip, she took me to Stratford to see the site of Shakespeare's birthplace. We rented rowboats and we were quite ridiculous, as we had a very hard time rowing and bumped our boat into a wall. Then Emma said she couldn't get out of the boat for fear she would fall in the water, so she sat there for a while before finally exiting. We were definitely quite a sight for passerby!

Mike and Doreen took us out to dinner one evening and I got to meet one of Emma's young nephews. She was so thrilled that she had recently tracked down her biological family! Shortly after my visit with Emma, Mike and Doreen took my parents and me to Windsor Castle when they came to visit me during my study abroad. They too were so excited to reminisce and gather with old friends.

With Emma, it didn't matter that we lived an ocean apart. She was so easy to talk to. And so full of life! She made people around her smile all the time. She sent me gifts when my sons were born and were always on top of sending out a Christmas card.

Even though we drifted apart some, as an ocean between, marriage and kids can do, Emma has always been in the "lifelong friend" category for me. I looked back on our emails and messenger chats and one of the last ones we had we talked about how we'd love for our little boys to meet one day. I have 3 boys but my Caden and your Connor are just months apart. Tony, if you visit the US ever, please let me know. I think Emma would have a laugh shining down on us as our boys got to interact just like their mamas did so long ago.

I couldnโ€™t believe it when I heard of Emmaโ€™s passing. It seems so unfair that such a vibrant person is no longer with us. So many prayers for Tony, Connor, Doreen, Michael, Matthew and all of her family and friends. I hope my Emma stories and othersโ€™ Emma stories can bring some peace during this challenging time. Lots of love, Lauren

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