Like many Southerners, particularly those who still live in fairly rural areas, Karen Lauritzen’s home place includes a family cemetery. Put into place nearly 25 years ago and surrounded by now mature shrubbery and tall trees, Sweet Woods Garden is the final resting place of Lauritzen’s husband, parents and two beloved aunts. It is also the setting for the opening paragraphs of Lauritzen’s book “Nothing Vanishes: Memoir of a Life Transformed.”
She writes: “It’s like this: when I created the cemetery at the highest point on my land, I wasn’t thinking. I was grieving, mourning the loss of my husband and friend of 22 years, the father of our two children who were then 8 and 12 years old. Just children, needing me, and needing him close by.”
Over the next 10 years, Lauritzen would bury both of her parents and two beloved aunts there. And then, at some point, the five for whom Lauritzen had created the sanctuary of Sweet Woods Garden began to call to her. “All that right-brain thinking has led me to where I am today, living a life where ghosts govern. My dreams are full of messages, not of my choosing, but theirs. If I ignore them, all the next day there’s a flash in the corner of my eye that pulls me abruptly from whatever I’m doing to stand at the front door and look toward the cemetery. So, who is it now?”
Don’t be misled. “Nothing Vanishes” is not a ghost story. To the contrary, Lauritzen’s memoir flows from chapter to chapter, interspersing her work in Tianjin, China and the difficulties in raising a child with developmental problems with the messages from the inhabitants of Sweet Woods Garden as seamlessly and fully as the seasons change here in the North Carolina mountains. In the end, “Nothing Vanishes” is a story replete with life, compassion and spirituality.
A longtime resident of Transylvania County, Lauritzen has published in The Chrysalis Reader, WNC Woman magazine, and Women’s Spaces, Women’s Places, an anthology of women writers. “Seat 7F,” a story from “Nothing Vanishes,” won an honorary mention in the 2010 Carpe Articulum Literary Awards. Lauritzen’s novel, “Her Worldly Goods,” is scheduled for release in early 2017.
Currently, a selection of Lauritzen’s works is on display at the Transylvania County Public Library along with works of other members of The Brevard Authors Guild. A member and officer of The Brevard Authors Guild, Lauritzen is also a member of the North Carolina Writers Network. On April 21, 2016, at 6:30 p.m. Lauritzen will speak on “Journaling to Memoir” at the Transylvania County Public Library. She also may be seen on Youtube reading from her memoir Nothing Vanishes, Memoir of a Life Transformed. Lauritzen’s book may be purchased from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smash Words and is available for loan at the Transylvania County Public Library.
This story was featured in the February 15, 2016, edition of the Transylvania Times.