“We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives” (Toni Morrison).
Lyren Lenore Grate was a writer. She was a daughter, sister, aunt, granddaughter, friend, cat mom, niece, cousin, and social justice advocate.
We all have our stories. Despite being diagnosed in 2004 at the age of fourteen with Neurofibromatosis Type II (NF2), a progressive neurological condition, Lyren graduated magna cum laude with a BA in English from UCA. She interned at the Oxford American, tutored at the UCA Writing Center, and was a Content Writer at Inuvo.
But there is more to Lyren’s story than these outward accomplishments: her narrative is not a linear one. As the disease took its course, her life became less about accomplishments and doing and more about simply being present and enjoying each moment. Lyren will always exist as long as love exists.
As one of her friends said, sometimes you are lucky enough to meet someone who changes your world for the better. Throughout her journey Lyren did just that. She never complained. She stayed strong and encouraged others. She laughed often and was a keen observer of life. She maintained hope and joy until her final breath on October 20, 2019. It was her mother’s privilege to care for her and to be her best friend.
“People with disabilities are indeed like the words of a poem. Although they might not provide or produce clothing or shelter or food, they nonetheless convey beauty and meaning, truth and transcendence. They teach us what it means to be human” (Amy Julia Becker).
Lyren advocated for a cure for NF2 and participated in clinical trials to advance NF2 research. Donations may be made to NF2 BioSolutions in her memory (https://donorbox.org/lyren-grate) and the CLAWS chapter of ARKANPAWS (http://www.arkanpaws.org/).
Lyren passed away in October 2019.