He still leaves the light on in her bedroom at night, even though she won’t be coming home.

Nearly nine months after the death of his daughter, Malcolm Astley is still learning to cope with his grief, and he is not alone. Both those who knew Lauren Astley personally and those who were moved by her story attended a gathering of friends in her memory Monday afternoon, led by Lauren’s parents and Chaplain Jan Fuller.

Lauren Astley was to be a member of the Class of 2015, but was found dead of apparent homicide July 4 in her hometown of Wayland, Mass. She was a suspected victim of relationship violence, and her former boyfriend Nathaniel Fujita has been charged with her murder.

“Although romantic relationships happen between two people, (relationships) affect every person involved in their lives,” said Elizabeth Nelson, coordinator for violence prevention at Elon.

Nelson helped plan three other events in memory of Lauren’s life that will be held throughout the week.

Those in attendance sat in a circle and took turns sharing how Lauren’s life forever changed their own. Some offered anecdotes that inspired both laughter and tears, and others voiced reflections punctuated by moments of deep silence.

Freshman Annie Schaffer, who was to be Lauren’s roommate, welcomed the chance to express her sorrow.

“I didn’t really tell anyone last semester about (how I was feeling),” Schaffer said. “It was nice to remember her in a group. It’s not often everyone comes together like this.”

Lauren’s story resonates outside of the Elon community as well. Sophomore Lindsay Glosson, who attended summer camp in New Hampshire with Lauren for several consecutive years, marveled at how many people “liked” a Facebook page dedicated to the memory of Lauren’s life. The number topped 20,000.

“If we had told Lauren that her life had touched this many people, she would have laughed at us,” Glosson said. “She really left a footprint on this place.”

 


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