More than 200 people came to T.C. Williams High School last Friday night to celebrate the life of 17-year-old Laura Lynam, the T.C. senior who was killed in a car accident on I-95 on Oct. 17. Laura died when the Cadillac Escalade in which she was a passenger flipped over. There were seven girls in the car, all members of T.C.'s Crew Team, on their way to a meet. The other girls in the car were not seriously injured.
"Laura's family wanted to hold this service to give Laura's friends an opportunity to remember her," said T.C. principal John Porter. "The kids put the program together."
Both of Laura's parents and her two brothers spoke. "You were the prettiest baby I ever saw and I dressed you up like a little doll until you refused to wear anything that was smocked," said Melinda Lynam, Laura's mother, speaking to her daughter. "We have always had such a strong connection that, even though you are not here, I still feel us connected."
Terry Lynam, Laura's father, remembered reading her bedtime stories. "When Laura was 11 or 12, I started reading her poems," he said. "One night, I read her 'The Road Not Taken' and she recited it for weeks. When we were in Ireland on vacation last summer, the poem came up and she was still able to recite the entire thing from memory," he said. He read the poem aloud to those at the memorial service.
Laura's friends remembered shopping trips, summer vacations at the beach and in the mountains, reading together in Laura's room, rowing and listening to music. Rachel Sturba was Laura's best friend and classmate at T.C. "My dad told me a few days ago that the best way to remember a person is to take one thing you admire about them and do your best to perpetuate that quality," Rachel said. "So take a few seconds now and think about one thing you admired about Laura. Maybe it was the way she worked so hard on her school work or how she smiled all the time or how all of her outfits seemed to match just right. If you remember her this way and let a little part of her live in yourself, then she'll always be with us and she'll always be able to be someone's best friend."
Megan Lawhorne was Laura's friend and crew teammate. "Last night I had a dream about Laura," Megan said. "I dreamed she was walking around school like her normal self. I believe that this is a sign that she's OK and will always be with us. And so, until we row together again, I'll miss you."
Dan Shipp is the president of the Alexandria Crew Boosters. He knew Laura well.
"She was a star— a star student, a star athlete, a star daughter, a star sister, a star friend, a star classmate and a star teammate," he said.
Laura's family has established a scholarship in her name through the Scholarship Fund of Alexandria. Donations can be made to the fund in her memory, c/o Scholarship Fund of Alexandria 3330 King Street Alexandria, VA 22314.