In Memory of Lauren Brierly (2004–2022)

Senior Lauren Brierly passed away on Friday, April 1. Her closest friends and family shared their fondest memories of Lauren with The Talon.

It’s rare to find someone who makes any person they talk to feel valued and automatically at ease. It’s even rarer to find someone who’s able to do that from the heights of a CVS rooftop or miles into an exhausting, entirely uphill hike. Yet, senior Lauren Brierly managed to do just that for close friends she’d known since kindergarten, people she’d only met a handful of times and every other classmate and acquaintance in between.

“When I was talking to her, she made me feel like I was the most important person in the room,” senior Logan Muller said. “She’d make it feel like all her attention was on me, you know, and I feel like she was the only person that could really do that.”

“You would have your own inside joke with Lauren after 45 minutes of knowing her,” senior Annie Channing said. “Within 45 minutes to an hour, you’d be with the most comfortable person and you could talk to her about anything. Even if she didn’t know you for long, she would offer to be a reference for your job or give you a ride home.”

But you wouldn’t typically find Lauren in the center of attention. Instead, you’d see her calmly sprinting down the soccer field, going on neighborhood strolls with her mom and two dogs, chasing down sunsets and climbing on rooftops with her closest friends.

“I honestly feel like it didn’t really matter where we went, we were always talking,” senior Simran Sood said. “We could honestly just walk around the block and have the best time ever. We’ve had a lot of good memories anywhere and everywhere.”

Although Lauren could be timid off the field, when it came to playing soccer, her infamous and well-respected competitive side would kick in at full throttle.

“She was aggressive when it came to soccer,” Logan explained. “She was really bad at being on-sides because she just wanted to get in there. She would run for the ball even if she was gonna get hit. She would get hit, fly backward and get back up to continue running. It was scary to watch but also insanely cool.”

“She really liked physically challenging herself,” Lauren’s mom Jennifer Brierly said. “She wasn’t reckless, but restless. She had no fear of pushing physical limits within a safe environment. She wasn’t somebody who would say, ‘Oh, I can’t do that. No, no, no, I’ll get hurt.’ She would say, ‘Ok, let me learn how to do this the right way. Now let me try it.’”

Despite her sub six-minute mile time, Lauren’s closest friends still joked about her signature running form.

“She had this very specific running style,” Logan said. “She would just crouch over and it was actually really entertaining, so during school, we would just stand there, watching Lauren run.”

Beyond soccer, as a kinesthetic learner, Lauren loved to work with her hands, earning her the nickname “Tinkerbell” from her mom. From complex origami to cooking up multi-course meals from scratch to single-handedly putting together an Ikea bed, Lauren loved to challenge instructions and experiment, a trait she inherited from both her father and grandfather. Her patience and natural curiosity coupled with her affinity for hands-on work likely sparked her dream of becoming a biomedical engineer.

“Lauren was a tinkerer,” Brierly said. “I used to call her my Tinkerbell because she looked like her; She used to be this tiny, tiny thing before she got to be 5’6’’ and she just loved to just take things apart and put them back together. I think that’s what got her into biomedical engineering because she wanted to do prosthesis and create robotic limbs to help make lives better.”

Although she was fiercely independent and responsible, managing work on top of school and a demanding sports season, Lauren always maintained a sense of balance in her life, never failing to set her own priorities. She always ensured that friends and family came before everything else in her life.

“On Fridays, everyone would come home and I would have pizzas on the stovetop and salad and we’d watch ‘Ted Lasso’ together,” Brierly said. “And it seems silly, but to me as a mom, those were some of my happiest moments because we were all together and laughing at a show and getting along, and [Lauren and her younger brother, Benjamin,] were teenagers but wanted to spend time with us as a family.”

“As we got older, we talked about how different people and experiences made us into who we are and had other deep reflections,” Annie said. She and Lauren would often climb on various rooftops around town and hang out. “Sometimes, we just fed off each other’s jokes [while up there], and we’d both just say dumb, meaningless crap and laugh. Other times, we would say nothing and just have a quiet moment of silence, you know, just in each other’s space. We felt safe with each other.”

At her most genuine self, Lauren was silly, witty and even a bit snarky. She loved making those around her cry from laughter and she was known far and wide for her one-liners and carefully crafted roasts.

“Oh my gosh, she had the best sense of humor,” Brierly said. “She could get so silly. She could get witty, sharply witty even. She was very observant and didn’t miss a thing. Lauren had this side to her that once she trusted you and you trusted her, she’d have the best one-liners and sense of humor. And I don’t know if she let everybody see that.”

“She would go out of her way to like, make fun of you in a funny, kind and caring way,” Annie said. “Like she would totally push your buttons, but she knew you could take it and that you would do it back to her.”

Her unparalleled sense of humor and adventure coupled with the joy she found in spending time with her loved ones led to the creation of nostalgic memories and unusual traditions those closest to her will never forget.

“We were driving from a fun sunset place recently with five of us in the car, and the road was getting really hilly right before a turn,” Logan said. “Lauren just rolled down the window and started climbing out. She was leaning out of the car with her hands up, yelling into the wind. I had to have a death grip on her hips, but it was such a fun moment.”

“[Lauren and I] would be somewhere we weren’t supposed to be, and I would really have to get home,” Annie said. “She would always, always have to buy dried apples right that second. I don’t know if she even liked dried apples.”

“We made this handshake and developed it over the three years we’ve known each other,” Simran said. “It was like five minutes long at the end with all our inside jokes and we’d also sing funny verses from random songs. We would do that whenever we were parting ways or she headed home.”

While Lauren gained a new sense of confidence and became more extroverted throughout high school, she always managed to stay true to herself.

“Lauren never tried to be someone or something she wasn’t,” Brierly said. “I would just be in awe of her, and she took my breath away every day. She treated people fairly and saw good in everyone. She was an idealist. She just had this positive energy and these ideas about how to make the world better.”