Eileen Lonergan Didn’t Know It, But She Saved My Life

Those who read the email I sent last night know that I lost a very important person in my life this week.


Eileen Lonergan.


And yes, she saved my life. And no, I don’t think that she realized it was all of that. But, it was.

Eileen Lonergan - My mentor and friendEileen Corrigan Lonergan August 24, 1966 – October 31, 2018

Yes, she passed away on Halloween, but orange was one of her favorite colors. I can see that from her blog comments.


How did Eileen Lonergan save my life?


We’ll get to that later on.

Although, I’ve spoken of her frequently, for those who don’t know, Eileen was my website guru/mentor, and over the years, that relationship became a deep friendship. But, I do not doubt that everyone whose life was graced by her presence feels the same way.

Eileen Lonergan made her living as a WordPress and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Expert. And, she knew what she was talking about.

And yet…

Suppose you google Eileen Lonergan (not in quotes). In that case, you will discover that the contents of page one and many pages afterward are devoted mainly to the tragic story of a young couple, Eileen and Tom Lonergan, who apparently perished as a result of a tragic scuba diving incident two decades ago. Horrifyingly, they were accidentally left behind in the middle of the ocean by their scuba dive boat.

It never came up, but I imagine that Eileen was well-aware that another who bears her name has a monopoly on it, that is– on the internet.


I aim to do something, if possible, to change that.


It’s not that if I write one post, my blog is strong enough to wipe Tom and Eileen Lonergan away. (doubtful) And, it’s not that they don’t deserve recognition. But, in her far quieter and IMO meaningful way, my Eileen Lonergan deserves her rightful place on page one, too.


Eileen Lonergan was one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met.


Not only did she help hundreds of people with their businesses, but she was also an incredibly devoted mother to three beautiful daughters and wife to Gene Lonergan. In addition, she ran and owned at least two businesses, did volunteer work, and on and on…

However, how do you compete in the cyberverse with the shocking story of a young-married-scuba diving couple abandoned by their dive boat in shark-infested waters, never to be found?

Perhaps it is the fact that there is no resolution. There were no answers except for the small, tattered remnants of Eileen Lonergan’s wet suit.

But, that was Eileen Hains Lonergan, and yes, it’s a disgusting, horrific story, but that doesn’t mean that our Eileen Lonergan needs to get stuffed back to page ten.


I see the puzzled faces, and I bet I know what you’re thinking.


If she was such a hot-shot SEO person, how come when you google her name, she’s on page ten?


That’s a good question, but she shows up on page one if you put her name in quotes. And she’s number one if you put in Eileen Lonergan website. In fact, she owns the entire page in that case.

That’s how keywords (actually keyword phrases) work. If you don’t already know, Google needs enough information to make an educated guess about what people are looking for.


Eileen Lonergan circa 1998

Eileen circa 1998 with her eldest daughter, Maura, now 21. And indeed, that is the World Trade Center in the background.

I have taken the liberty of helping myself to some of Eileen’s photos on her Instagram. It’s much more of a personal account than a business account, so I am judicious about what I’m posting. But knowing Eileen, she’d be tickled that I’m doing this.


So, Laurel, how did Eileen Lonergan save your life?


Well, we need to go back about ten years ago. It was pretty much the beginning of the dark recession. But, it hit hard and quickly. All of a sudden, my business came to a crashing halt.

Between that and substantial family issues, I was having a very rough time. However, by 2010, things gradually started picking back up again, and the work gave me a lift and some hope.

But then, business problems with at least one vendor knocked me back down, and then the family issues came to a head in 2011. I can’t go into specifics on the blog, but trust me when I tell you that it was challenging.

In fact, it got so bad that I felt that I had no choice but to leave, and so I did. I moved to my apartment. Most of this story is in my blogging guide.

But, the previous spring of 2012, I had started this website/blog. Unfortunately, I had no idea what I was doing.


Six months after I moved, I realized that my phone had not rung the entire time. NOT ONCE. I mean, it hadn’t rung for new business.


This was scary because I had some nice jobs, but most of them were about to dry up, which meant no more income.

I knew that something was wrong and something had to change. And fast. I started fantasizing about my future and what I saw wasn’t very pretty.


Eileen Lonergan saved me - Eileen Corrigan Lonergan- original photo - markthomasimages's profile picture @markthomasimages

Yes, that’s my face superimposed on a photo by @markthomasimages on Instagram.


I could see myself as an old, dirty, homeless bag lady muttering to myself incoherently in the streets of New York City.

Knowing me, I probably ruminated for a few days; then, I felt sorry for myself, had a cry, and went about whatever it was that I was doing.

But one day, I opened up my email and saw a post from a WordPress expert. Apparently, I had put myself on her email list but could not tell you where I found her to save my life.


Upon reading the post, everything she said made total sense. And, I could tell that she knew what she was talking about. That’s when I contacted Eileen Lonergan, and we began working together.


It was summer, and despite two air-conditioners in my 800-sq foot apartment, the sweat was dripping like mad down my back because I was trying to sound more or less sane during our Skype sessions. But, really, I felt like SCREAMING MY HEAD off out of frustration.

Not to be overly dramatic, but I truly felt that Eileen was my only hope, so the need to hold it together was imperative. However, everything she was talking about was like she was speaking a
foreign language.

  • We’ll have to do the 301 redirects. It will be fine, Laurel.
  • But, we’re going to have to change the domain name
  • plus get a new Gmail address in your domain name.
  • and then contact Yext…, and then we’ll redirect your old email…


That is a tiny sampling of what needed to be done!


At one point, my head was so crammed with information that I thought it would explode. And I remember saying, “Oh, Eileen, please just do it for me.” Because I had started things on my own, she thought I was more tech-savvy than I really was. But, I learned from her example, and what was once mind-bendingly-difficult, I can practically do in my sleep now. Funny about that learning curve thing.

However, I was totally kicking myself that I thought this could ALL be done independently.

Plus, things got worse before they got better.  However, painful, by the end of September 2013, Eileen had helped me get all of my Google Geese in a row.

And on the heels of that, I got the devastating news that my BFF, Elaine, had terminal lung cancer.

Does life really have to be this sucktastic?

Phenomenally depressed but trudging on, Eileen and I discussed a game plan.


One day, I asked Eileen how many page views she had a day.


“Oh, about 500,” she said.

At the time, my jaw dropped open, and I meekly said, “You do?”

“Yes, but I’m workin’ it,” she stated quite matter-of-factly.

She didn’t ask me what my problem was. She didn’t have to. I’m plenty good at beating myself up.

Damn, I need to get with the program here; I knew good and well that I was NOT workin’ it.

But, that, plus Elaine’s devastating diagnosis, galvanized me into action at the end of November 2013.  Thus, I started blogging every other day, without fail.

And, I have never stopped for more than a few days since then.

Those blog posts started rolling out with great regularity. This is key whether five times a week or once a month. It needs to be predictable.


And what happened next was the most shocking thing for me. And that’s because, in 19 months, I had not been able to get the needle to move at all, but by the end of December 2013,  My page views had tripled! I kept going, and each month was a little better than before.

And then, Finally! The phone started to ring. It really did, and I was booking a ton of consultations and landed some nice new jobs.

By May 2014, the site was 250+ page views a day. Another Google search for interior designers in Westchester County provided excellent results.

Laurel Bern Interiors was on page one!


And, that’s how Eileen Lonergan saved my life.


What happened after that is another chapter.

But, I really don’t know what I would’ve done had I not found her. Sure. There are other good people who understand how things work, but Eileen had something extra. Actually, a lot of something extras. She was fun, empathetic, and always patient and understanding.

I admired her immensely and wanted to be like her.

Plus, she always said the right thing.

And sometimes, she said it on the blog. In fact, I went into my admin area and did a search, and Eileen Lonergan commented exactly 57 times.


I’m not going to put them all in, but I’d like to put in my top 15 favorite comments by Eileen Lonergan and the posts they link to. And, of course, a little of my commentary (in bold.)


What Are Your Interior Decorating Problems?

“Thank you so much for this amazing guidance! A rug you can hose down; you have no idea how up my alley this is! I LOVE, not kidding, LOVE to power wash. But, I don’t like the feel of seagrass and better pass on the silk (you know it will be me who spills first). I will check out Dash & Albert right now and also consider wool (which I also love). Do you have an affiliate link?”


Are your Christmas Decorations Making You Blue?

I adore Christmas decorating, and as my children are getting a little bit older, I am happy to transition from candy cane stripe everything to a little more sophistication. Thank you, Laurel! I am stealing the red branches in the huge ceramic bowl idea. Beautiful.


Eileen Lonergan and Fiona December 2016

Eileen and her youngest of three lovely daughters, Fiona with Rusty, their Golden Retriever at their feet. December 2016. Too cute! Doesn’t Eileen look great here? And after months of chemo/radiation. I really thought that she had beat the beast.


Selling Your Home Soon? Not If You Do This

I adore a white kitchen; I could not have anything else. I think you should refer back to the post you did about becoming emotionally detached when selling your house. As soon as you decide to sell, it’s not about you; it’s about making the house appealing to the masses. Great post to pour over with my morning coffee; I feel a project coming on! Thank you, Laurel.


I Wanted Charming Decor But Ended Up With Blah

Love this post. I don’t have many window treatments in my home either, and I appreciate all the tips on making a room more inviting without worrying about drapes. Also, I have a gallery family photo wall and love it! All black and white. One tip is to hire a pro to hang all the pics.


Eileen Lonergan curtains from Overstock

But, later on, Eileen did purchase window treatments from Overstock. And you would never know that they are ready-made drapes. The quality is really good.


What They Didn’t Tell You About The Best Yellow Paint Colors

I love the Pin It button on every image; I vote to keep it. I love these yellow rooms. You need to be brave to commit to the colors, and you should feel brave in your own home. My Sunday morning with this blog brings me so much joy. Thank you, Laurel.


The Little Known Reason That Mother’s Day Kind Of Sucks

I just bought the teal tray from One Kings Lane! Might as well tee up the breakfast in bed suggestion. The aprons from Anthro are awesome. I often give them as hostess gifts instead of the predictable wine.


Eileen and me November 2014 - City Feed - Boston JP

A photo I found of Eileen from 2015 wearing an Anthropologie apron.


Oh, these girls love to bake.


Eileen Lonergan Bakes Good Shithehe


The Horrible Thing She Said About Decorating Genius Darryl Carter

I wish this post never had to end, the images don’t even need words, but you are so dang engaging it’s double fun to look and read your commentary. 🙂 And how wonderful it’s not for everyone, wouldn’t it be boring if we all loved the same thing? My Wednesdays and Sundays would be quite dull. Thank you, Laurel.


Eileen Lonergan - #ladygolfer-September 2017Eileen, the summer of 2017

In fact, in March of 2018, Eileen ran a HALF MARATHON with her daughter, Fiona!


Is A Black and White Kitchen The Answer To A Mid-Century Mess?

Oh my gosh, Katy! What an amazing kitchen you have created. I love all of it. Thank you for sharing all of those inspirational posts. Going for another coffee and spending the morning reading all of these! Thank you so much, Laurel; you are the best.


The Ugly Truth Behind The Pretty Pictures On Houzz

I have unsubscribed from their email list [GOOD], and I had an account (I wanted into a discussion on London Sky quartz) and deleted that as well (not an easy process). I never really understood why so many designers love them so much, happy to be off their list. Thank you, Laurel.


A New Blogging Guide + Laurel Home Is Six Years Old.

I am so proud of you, Laurel! I remember the summer day you called me and shared that on a good day, you had 30 visitors to your site! And, I appreciate you crediting me as part of your success, but really it is YOU who is amazing. Smart, tenacious, curious, and of course, talented. Never afraid to ask / learn or call it as you see it. Like everyone else, I can’t wait for the guide. Enjoy your son; he is a treasure.


(I know that Eileen was proud of me. She told me that ALL OF THE TIME. I don’t know if I’m all of what she said, but what I do know is that it’s possible to turn your life around. If I can, anyone can.)


Laurel Bern Interiors Is On LuAnn Nigara’s Podcast

Oh my gosh, I was PART of your rise to success and have listened twice and LEARNED so much!

LuAnn has a serious talent for interviewing. She does a great job of keeping the conversation on track, recapping, asking relevant questions, and remembering past podcasts!

I also am blown away by the amount of content you share, Laurel. You are so generous with sharing what you know and have learned along the way. This podcast really is a master class in either: getting found on Google if you are a local designer (THE FOOTER WITH YOUR ADDRESS PEOPLE!!!) or building your blog.


As a side note, a few of my friends have purchased your Guides (they are consumers, not bloggers) and LOVE them.


One woman used it to decorate a second home and another her main residence. Both of these women could afford to hire anyone but loved using the guides and your blog to put it all together on their own.


WOW! And yes, listen to Eileen!


One more of LuAnn’s podcasts I think is a good listen is Elizabeth Scruggs https://luannnigara.com/305-elizabeth-scruggs-the-things-i-learned-from-a-well-designed-business/. I have also worked with Elizabeth, and in her interview, she shares many of the tools that she learned about through LuAnn. There is a fun quiz app, Facebook Live tools, and tools to build your email list. A lot of really cool things which people may not know about.

Thank you for all you do, Laurel. I know you have lots of fans out there, but I am delighted to be one of the EARLY ones. I knew you were hot stuff the moment you called!


Um nooooooo. I was a hot MESS!!! But, thank you just the same. And as you can see, Eileen was always promoting her other clients as she often did me.


How Come This Gorgeous House Isn’t Selling? Your Help Is Needed

I would love a house on St. Simons and think this is lovely. How about sending the photos to Linda Holt for editing? https://www.lindaholtcreative.com/photo-editing/ She has a great eye and is so pleasant to work with. Happy vacation Laurel; you deserve a little time away!


Does Beach House Decor Have To Look Coastal

It was such fun to see you and Cale! Thanks for not mentioning that I put you to work measuring and peppering you with questions about my kitchen 🙂


OH STOP! MY COMPLETE PLEASURE! I was so glad that I got the chance to see Eileen last August.


As someone who lives near the coast, I like a little beachy feel.

One thing we didn’t talk about with Ptown is what an amazing writing community there is out there in the Winter, http://web.fawc.org/ Ann Pachet, one of my favorite authors, is a graduate.

As always love the posts! Happy weekend.xoxoxo


I think I mentioned in the post that Cale and I stopped to see Eileen on our way to Provincetown. I had known since June that her cancer had returned and had made a new home for itself in her brain.

When I got the email from Eileen, I actually screamed. But, after a few weeks, she was back to commenting.


Is the Unkitchen Kitchen Design Trend Here To Stay?

As you know, I just redid my kitchen and loved every minute of the process. Thanks to reading so many of your posts and looking at pictures, I had a strong idea of what I wanted. I kept your voice in my head, made a plan, and hired a local pro to deal with all the workers and create a design that wasn’t pieced together by non-pros (aka the husband and me).

You are the best, Laurel!


Sisal Rugs Shocker + A Gorgeous Home You’ll Want To See!

I need to get a second cup of coffee and re-read this whole post. Lotte, you have a beautiful talent, and Laurel, your photos are stunning. I have my toothbrush and am ready to move in! xoxoxo to you both.


And that is the last I heard from Eileen. I did write her a day later, on the evening of the 22nd but didn’t hear back.


I figured that maybe she was going through a chemo cycle and just felt crappy.

However, on the evening of the 31st, I checked her social media feeds. She hasn’t tweeted since October 18th. Nothing on insta or FB either.

I knew, but I didn’t want to know.

In fact, in another case of synchronicity which is a theme for so many of us, it was Lotte Meister who called me to tell me the news on Thursday morning that our dear Eileen Lonergan had passed away the day before.

Lotte and Eileen share a close friend. And, Lotte had met Eileen a couple of times. It truly is a very tiny world.


I owe so much to Eileen Lonergan. And, I’m incredibly blessed that she came along at just the right time. It’s cliché to say that I’m a better person for having known her. But, it’s true.


And while Eileen is not here in body, I feel that, if anything, her legacy will grow. And that’s because Eileen Lonergan was one to plant, build up and nurture.

The part above, after being on LuAnn Nigara’s podcast last summer, where Eileen said that she was learning from *me* took me aback at first; but then, I realized that Eileen had taken me to a place where like a baby bird who’s nurtured in the nest, I could fly on my own.

But make no mistake: I came back “home” many times for web help and guidance. And while I do now have other people helping me, it will never be the same.

I’m so thrilled that so many of my colleagues had the opportunity to work with Eileen as well.


In addition to Elizabeth Scruggs and Linda Holt, mentioned above, Eileen also worked with my beautiful friends and colleagues Deborah Von Donop and Leslie Carothers. 


She also helped the talented Sarah Wagner, featured in this post.


And no accident that the top four colleagues listed above are all in the Modenus Designhounds top 100 Interior Design Bloggers and Influencers. (actually, they are all in the top 50)



Eileen and me November 2014 - City Feed - Boston JPI really can’t believe that she’s gone. She was so beautiful in every way, so full of life. A life as vibrant as that just can’t be snuffed out.

Eileen’s favorite word that always made me giggle was “shitshow.”  Well, we’ll just have to figure out all of the shitshows on our own now.

After all, she showed us how to do it.

Love to All,


170 Responses

  1. Hi Laurel from me, based here in the UK. I’ve only just heard the sad news of Eileen’s passing today from a lovely client based in the US, who was introduced to me by the fabulous Eileen – because she thought “we’d be good for each other”. Eileen gave me huge encouragement in my endeavours in website design and as a VA.I admired her intellect and tenacity hugely. She was very funny too. What moved me to write this was that you say you only have one picture of you together and although it’s a lovely one,it is very poignant. I was lucky enough to be interviewed on video by Eileen and I have a lasting memory of her kindness and support,for which I’m very grateful, and I shall go and watch it again today. I cannot imagine the loss you feel. Sending you my deepest sympathies for the loss of your dear friend.

    1. Hi Debby,

      I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciate your reaching out. Eileen touched so many lives and joyously inspired them. And she also brought many people together. I can’t tell you how many “e-troductions” I had from her. Wait, hold on; actually, I can tell you. I’m going to check my email because I never deleted anything from her.

      Okay, I’m back. It was 10. Ten e-troductions. That’s the kind of person Eileen was. Always wanting to help others but only when they wanted and needed it. In addition, she always went the extra 100 miles.

      Every day, at least a dozen times, I say to myself, “I can’t believe that Eileen is gone.” And, it’s not like there wasn’t a warning. I knew the score even though she never told me outright. But, it doesn’t matter because I so hoped that she’d be one of those like Valerie Harper that seemingly had weeks or months and then years later, is still very much with us. Surely someone as deeply loved and loving as Eileen was, would pull through?

      I am so sorry too, for your loss, too. I have several designer friends who worked with Eileen and we’re all devastated. It matters not if one knew her for a day or 10,000 days. The Eileens of the world are the rarest most precious jewels of them all. We sorely need more like her; not fewer.

      Still can’t believe how lucky I was to have found her!

  2. Hi Laurel- I was so sad to read of the passing of your dear friend, Eileen Lonergan and because we too had a summer of horror due to the big’C’lung diagnosis in our immediate family,I couldn’t even reply without reliving the agony of the loss.
    I am sure you know that my deep, and most sincere wishes to the family, as well as to you, were with you from the moment I read about the tragedy.

  3. I have often cried laughing at your posts – and now I can also say I’ve cried from sadness. 🙁
    This is an absolutely lovely tribute, and how fun to see Eileen’s own comments and feel her joy at seeing your blog grow. Sincere condolences to you and to Eileen’s family.

  4. What an absolutely beautiful tribute. We should all be so blessed to have a connection with someone like the one that you and Eileen clearly had. Sending you big virtual hugs ❤️

    1. Thank you Lori. I’m not alone because Eileen captured hearts wherever she went. But for me, it is on so many levels as many relationships are. She was the sweetest, kindest person ever, but if someone said something truly nasty, as in trying to shame me, (it happens) she’d have some choice words for them– between us, of course.

  5. My condolences, Laurel. Friends and family are precious. Where would we be without them? Know that you have many friends out here in the blogosphere. Eileen sounds like a lovely person, I wish I knew her. Thinking of you and God Bless.

  6. What a lovely post about your dear friend. I’m truly sorry for your loss. I hope the warm memories of your friendship continue to bring you comfort.

  7. Hello my dear. I’m sorry to have heard about the passing of Eileen. I knew before this post of just how fond you were of her, but this post does shed more light on how she helped you and what she meant to you. I’m sure she would be thrilled to have an entire blog post of yours, dedicated just to her. And I love the term ‘shitshow’. Thanks for having the incredible ability to make me cry and laugh, all in the same post. xo

  8. I feel the same way, Caroline. Gaye, thank you for articulating the thoughts I have been at a loss to put together. I totally laughed out loud at “Go with Cotton Balls!” I too think there is so much truth to never underestimating the impact of one’s actions.

    Laurel, I am so sorry for your loss. What a wonderful tribute. Just as Eileen entered your life during one of your most vulnerable periods, people come in and out of my own life, mostly unaware of my personal trials, yet deeply affecting it for good. I too have a few very special people that helped me reach for things greater than I could imagine during some of my darkest hours. I believe those bonds of trust transcend time, distance, and even this earth. It has been my experience that the holes left in the wake of such losses never quite fully heal. Some may call it a scar, but I choose to see it as a lasting impression, even a reminder, of the beauty of those that came into my life, which in turn encourage me to bring beauty and goodness to others. Sending you all my sunniest thoughts and good vibes during these dark and rainy times.

  9. Laurel,

    What a lovely heartfelt tribute to your friend! It’s interesting
    how life turns out…..the least way you expect it to. Life
    is wonderful and heartbreaking all at once.

    Love and peace to you!

    I have loved your blog….it has seen my through many ups and downs and I think I would like to blog myself…can I purchase your blogging how to?

    thank you, Joy

  10. Hi Laurel
    Its Ann (Eileen’s friend from Michigan.)
    What a lovely post.
    Thankfully I went to visit her back in August – she was in middle of chemo but as ususal – a positive approach to everything. She was my friend of 30+ years and the loss is something I still can’t come to terms with.
    I too have had many bumps in the road over the past 8 years, but since we met in the dorm at MSU she has been in my corner …. believing in me even when I did not.
    Sounds like she was like that for you too.
    : )

    1. Hi Ann,

      Thank you for writing and I’m very sorry for your loss. 30+ years is huge. I’m not Eileen, but if you ever need someone to talk to, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

      I was there in August, too. August 7th. I am so, so glad we went. (I was with my son, who took Rusty out for a long walk.)

  11. Laurel,
    I am grateful to you for this beautiful tribute to dear Eileen. She was a shining star, a beacon in the darkness, a woman of tremendous talent and warmth – this I know for sure. And, consider this: I had only met her a few times and through my good friend, Sally. As we’ve heard so much this week: May her memory be a blessing.
    Peace, Lisa

  12. Hi Laurel,

    What a thoughtful tribute to Eileen. Let me tell you why I am leaving a message. I have been struggling the past few months with choosing a website designer. I had heard about Eileen through a Podcast and today had some down time from a busy design schedule to look at her website. I found it odd that there was no way to send an email. I then sent her a message via Linked-In. I had a piece of paper which I jotted down her name while I was driving and had also jotted down your name. I could not remember if you, too, were a website designer. It turns out you are an incredible blogger who happened to write this post. How forturnate that you found such an inspiring person!


    1. Hi Vivian,

      Yes, you are probably referring to the LuAnn Nigara podcast that’s linked to in the post. I recorded it in early June and only found out about Eileen’s condition about two weeks later. I had forgotten what I said about Eileen, until the podcast came out in July. After listening to it, I realized that my best course of action was to do nothing and that was definitely the right decision.

      Eileen wrote me that her email was flooded with requests and I think it gave her a boost, at a time when she sorely needed it. I do believe that she turned over most of the requests to Laura Heuer at Greencastle Web Design. if you are still needing help.

  13. Hi Laurel, Eileen Lonergan – an amazing lady and friend. Thank you for putting out such a nice tribute. Along with all who knew her, I am heartbroken.

    1. Hi Laura,

      Oh my. I’ve thought of reaching out to you so many times. For anyone reading, Laura is a fabulous web designer and who Eileen was recommending to help with websites when she no longer could. I did see that you purchased my blogging guide. Thank you! I imagine that you wanted to know what your clients were reading!

  14. Dear Laurel, I too am reading your post with tears streaming down my face.Thank you so much for such a heartfelt post. I truly look forward to reading your posts and thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us. I feel your loss my best friend passed away with ovarian cancer away too soon.

    1. Hi Diane,

      I’m so sorry to hear of the loss of your BFF. Gosh, I’ve been there too. But, I feel so strongly that my departed loved ones are my guardian Angels. In fact, it was only after Elaine died, early in 2015 that my blog really began to take off. It really is a reminder to get off of our butts and make every day count! But still, it’s not easy, especially if they were a vital component of our support system. It’s a gaping hole that can never be filled. Hugs to you in your grief.

    2. Thank you Laurel for your kind reply. I want to tell you how you have effected my life, with your sharing your knowledge that has helped me to help my good friend with her new home. I have loved every minute so much fun. Many thanks

    1. Hi Alisa,

      I was reading some old emails late in June, early July after Eileen got the bad news. In them, I read the words where we each expressed our love and admiration for the other. Of course, I knew that Eileen’s situation was serious and that her time was probably coming sooner than hoped for. But, the lesson for me is to express that to our loved ones, no matter what.

      And yet, how many of us actually do that, until there’s a crisis? It is so easy to forget that our time with them could be cut short at any time. I have often heard people say “if only…” But, I’m grateful that in this case, I said everything that I needed to say and so did Eileen. I’ll always treasure those notes that we shared.

  15. I really enjoyed the time I spent reading this post about Eileen Lonergan. Almost certainly someone I would have liked to have known. You may already know (perhaps it has even been mentioned already – I haven’t read all of the latest comments) but I just saw that your Eileen now has a couple of spots on page one with a google search. Well done.

    1. Hi Delaina,

      Some friends pointed it out to me and then I checked for myself on three different browsers and Eileen’s website is way up on page one. That’s what I was hoping would happen. One reason that her own website fell back is because she had not updated it with fresh content since March 28th. Normally, she posted at least once a month. That would’ve been enough to keep her ranking high. But my post which links to hers boosted her back up.

      This is technical, I realize but for me, the significance is nothing but miraculous. When Eileen started working with me, the authority my website had, was in the gutter. No wait. It wasn’t even on the planet. She said that I needed websites, like mine has become to link BACK to me. And now, that I can actually do that for her, five years later is as I said, miraculous! What’s changed is back five years ago, it could take Google days if not weeks to catch on that something was going on. But now, it’s within hours, usually.

  16. Oh Laurel! I had this post flagged in my mailbox all day and was afraid to read it when I saw the picture of you and Eileen. I prayed that it wasn’t going to be that Eileen had passed away. My heart is broken. She is a treasure, and I am devastated for her husband and her 3 girls. The support and guidance she gave me is immeasurable. She was also such a role model as a mother. She beamed with pride when she talked about her girls, and I knew exactly how she felt. We connected on so many things and although I only got to see her through Skype, I hoped we would meet in person at some point. She will be so missed, but I know she is looking down on her girls and this world with so much love. Thank you for your post.

    1. Oh, Sarah,

      I feel so badly. I should’ve contacted you before the post went out, but I have been thinking about you and linked back to your beautiful new website. I hope that it’s going well. I’m so happy that you were able to work with Eileen. In fact, I think that you might’ve been the last client she had. xoxo

      1. Please don’t feel badly about not reaching out separately. This was such a lovely tribute to Eileen. Thank you so much for including me in your post, as well. That was so kind and unexpected. I truly appreciate the gesture so very much. As you noted above about not hearing from Eileen, I noticed her absence recently, as well, but tried to push any concerning thoughts from my mind. Thank you for making her the focal point in today’s post. You are a great friend. You have always put a much deserved spotlight on Eileen. After all, that’s how I found her. Thank you! Xo

  17. Dear Laurel,

    Love & Peace to you during this very difficult time of losing your dear friend, kindred soul, and wonderful mentor Eileen Lonergan. What a beautiful and touching tribute to her.

    I “discovered” your blog one summer day about 3 years ago, shortly after my late husband died tragically 5 days post-surgery from complications. That sad period in my life was one of the lowest I have felt. Reading your blog posts were a joy and much needed distraction from my grief, as one of my greatest passions has always been interior decorating & painting. Ever since, I have been a loyal reader of your blog. I find your posts to be extremely informative as well as highly entertaining – so much so that when I snort out loud with laughter, my geriatric cat gives me one of his “deer caught in the headlights” look…God dammit, you’re reading ‘Laurel Bern’s blog’ again… waking me up from my 16+ hour slumber!! You’d think he’d get used to it by now.

    Laurel, thank you for sharing your profound knowledge of the interior design business, not to mention your personal insights and remarkable journey of what it took you to persevere and succeed. Congratulations on winning the “Modenus Designhounds top 100 Interior Design Bloggers and Influencers”!!

    1. Hi Ksenija,

      Thank you for such a beautiful note. I am so sorry to hear about your husband’s passing. But, it’s so heart-warming to hear that my blog helped you during that difficult period. And oh, please give your kitty a big hug and kiss for me. I know that look as I had a wonderful, kitty, Peaches (a male, you can see him here) who passed away just after Thanksgiving four years ago. He was 16 yrs – seven months, about. I hope that yours will give you many more years of joy!

  18. What a beautiful tribute. We all have those folks behind the scenes who helped us along the way, without really knowing their true impact. I certainly have several in my life. She’ll be missed, for sure. I’m so sorry for your loss, and her family and friends too.

    1. Thank you Kerry Ann.

      Yours and Gaye’s comment is reminding me of the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” It’s a classic feel-good story. And, it’s wise to remember that each of us is capable of changing another’s life whether we realize it or not. I’ve had teachers and other people that I still think of fondly to this day.

  19. Laurel, I am so very sorry you have lost a dear friend and mentor. I extend my sympathies to you, her family, friends and associates.

  20. Sorry is not really adequate in describing how I feel about the loss of your dear friend. Yes, I am known as a crybaby to many and yes,I am crying right now for your loss. She sounds like the kind of person everyone wanted in their lives… fun, friendly, helpful, kind, and so much more. My heart goes out to all.

  21. What I think you knew before Eileen was the need to be concrete when trying to communicate anything—a feeling, an idea, a concept. And that is what you brought to this memory of a woman who had also been in my prayers since you posted about your visit to her. I feel sure she was also in the prayers and best thoughts of many of your readers. And today, you made her real to us.

    What I learned in my life as a teacher is that we never know how we affect the lives of others. Never. We will think it is a lesson from “Oedipus Rex” or The Iliad, and decades later a former student will say, “The day you told us about your grandmother’s death changed the way I looked at my life.” Or “The time you told me I had the bluest eyes you’d ever seen made me take a second look at myself.” Or “That day you said ‘Why don’t you come by my office for a moment…'”

    So I hope it is not inappropriate at this time to remind you that you have used well the blessings Eileen made possible for you. You don’t know the lives you’ve saved, just as Eileen could not know the lives she’d saved. Some days a single sentence—“Go with Cotton Balls”—can change the entire trajectory of a person’s life, not just the future of a room. It’s good to remember that.

    Most of us who read your blog are creating, keeping up, and/or somehow shaping homes, and thereby, we are shaping our lives as well as the lives of others who live in those homes and those who share our hospitality there. Your blog teaches us how to endow those spaces with a beauty that changes all life that takes place in them. The bright white kitchen that signals a new chapter in life, an entrance hall that restores balance after the chaos beyond our doors, a bedroom so quiet and peaceful that it leads to restorative sleep—you teach us how to make these things happen. Thereby, you change our lives and the lives of all who share our homes. For like Eileen appears to have been, you are a teacher and a coach of the first rank. That is why some of us who read no other blogs, read yours. Maybe the best anyone can do to honor the ones who save our lives is to pass along the gift to others. And you, Miz Laurel, do that incomparably.

    My sympathies are with you for your loss of Eileen and my best wishes for your continued good use of her gifts to you.
    Follow them. Keep on doing what you’re doing.

    1. Wow Gaye,

      That is so beautiful! Thank you. It is in no way inappropriate, however, it did make me chuckle to think that “Go with Cotton Balls” could somehow change the trajectory of a person’s entire life. But, who knows? I do know that a person’s environment can definitely change the way they feel and that spills over into the way they feel about others and the world as a whole.

      But, in this way, we are all connected. I am far from perfect, but as long as the intention to do the right thing is there, hopefully things don’t usually fall too far off course. xoxo

    2. Gaye, this is such a wise and beautiful message! Not only are you honoring Laurel and Eileen, you are also elucidating to all of us the value of creating beauty in our homes and lives. Sometimes in today’s world, I feel that my interest in interior design and homemaking is lightweight, silly, unimportant–but your message just made me feel validated and hopeful. Thank you!

  22. oh friend.
    when I saw the subject line of your post in my inbox, I knew. I just knew that you had written a tribute post in honor of our precious Eileen.
    it’s taken several hours for me to get the courage open and read it, because I knew it would be so hard.
    but I also knew it would be perfect, and it is.
    our Eileen was a precious soul indeed, and I know that I am a better person by having the chance to have known her.
    I’m sharing this post to help get our girl to Page One on the Google-
    little did she know that she would create this small tribe of devoted designers who are forever linked because of her presence in this world- and for that I am eternally grateful.
    Love you Laurel!
    and Linda, Deborah, and Leslie♥♥♥

    1. Oh, Elizabeth. I love that! #Eileenstrong – And Eileen would be so proud that so many of her clients did so well in the Modenus Designhounds contest. Congratulations on your strong finish. I’ll never forgot how you wanted to round us all up and go to Eileen’s house and cook for her. And you know, it was the most amazing idea. I loved it. But what it really shows is just how much she was loved. And yes, we are forever linked and that’s quite beautiful. But, I might need to dye my hair blond? hahahaha Love you too!

  23. What a lovely tribute Laurel. You friend has the most beautiful smile. Remember that when you think of her. So sorry for your loss.

  24. A good friend is a gift you give yourself that lasts your entire life…even after your friend is gone. Treasure every moment. I am so sorry for the loss of such an important woman and friend. Thinking of you, Debbie

  25. Dear Laurel, its a terrible thing to be forgotten. When I read this article about Sir Terry Prachett, and how his friends wanted him to be remembered, I thought of you and your friend.

    1. Hi Annie,

      I did look at that and have to say that I couldn’t follow it, but thank you for sending it anyway. I’m feeling badly, but I had to remove it because it’s the internet and if I see something on the internet that makes me nervous, I can’t have it on my website. I hope that you’ll understand.

  26. Laurel,
    Your tribute to your dear friend, Eileen, was so heartfelt and I understand your loss. May you and all who loved her find comfort in your many shared happy memories.

  27. Dear Laurel,
    I read your tribute to Eileen early this morning and was moved to tears. What a wonderful person. I know you, her family and many others that she reached out to will miss her friendship dearly. Thank you for sharing her story.

  28. Dear Laurel ~

    I have already told you over the phone how sorry I am for the loss of your very close friend and mentor, Eileen.

    It is so not fair when great people like Eileen get taken away from loving families and friends at such a young age.

    I’m just glad, though, that you two found each other when you did because, through all she taught you, you have blessed many other lives through your generous sharing of what she taught you…which means her legacy of helping and kindness will live on – through you.

  29. I bet there’s many many people right now, sitting in their homes with their morning coffees, and loving on you and Eileen. Your story really is inspiring, how the collaboration of two beautiful and talented souls touched the hearts of so many. It sounds like you have both greatly cherished each other’s contribution to your friendship and professional lives, and Eileen leaves behind a beautiful legacy. Thank you for this heart warming tribute.

  30. Beautiful tribute Laurel. I’m so sorry for your loss and so happy for you that you had her as a friend. May her memory be a blessing.

  31. So very sorry Laurel. A precious friend is like a jewel and you want to keep them forever. You are not alone in a grief shared among your sisters who lose special friends.

    Congratulations winning!!! I am so happy for you! You put a lot of thought and time into your wonderful project that I look forward to reading your entertaining words and seeing the wonderful pictures you choose.

    Perhaps a gift from above.


  32. Laurel, I’m sorry for your loss. It sounds like your friend Eileen lived, loved and left a memorable legacy! You are blessed to have known her and her life will live through you and all those she touched. I just started following your blog this year and am so appreciative of your selfless giving and the inspiration you give to us every day. Thank you.

  33. It sounds to me as if Eileen was your “soul sister”. Sometimes we are just running about so busy with the details that go into our day to day living that we are completely oblivious to the fact that we are touching other people and changing lives in the process. You were one of the seeds Eileen had sown and glory be to God you grew! And now you touch lives too. Eileen left a legacy far beyond that of just being a smart business woman — she gave you wings. God bless you, Laurel. God bless Eileen.

  34. So sorry for the loss of such a dear friend. I know just how you feel. I lost my interior design mentor and best friend in 2013 and miss him everyday. He will never be replaced, nor will your friend Eileen.

  35. Dear Laurel,
    So very sorry for the loss of your dear friend and angel. She was an incredible woman and my heart breaks for her family also. No doubt you will keep her memory alive through all you do. Thank you for sharing her with us.

  36. I love the selfie of you and Eileen; it says it all. Clearly you two are kindred spirits if that is a picture of your first meeting, face-to-face! I’m so sorry for your loss. And, congratulations on your Modenus Designhounds top 100! It was well deserved. I will tell you that I found your blog this year after, perhaps, one of the lowest sustained low points in my life. That damn recession hit my husband’s business hard and coming back from that was even harder. Hard doesn’t begin to describe it, really. But life is pretty good now, and after renting for five years, we bought a beautiful home last January. It’s good to be a homeowner again. Making a home a home, a beautiful home, is important to me. The information you share is invaluable, and how you share it makes it all the more enjoyable! You are so talented and funny and real. I thank Eileen for helping bring you to the forefront of design blogs! And, I thank you for bringing all of us who follow you, so much joy!

    1. Hi Donna,

      We were both so excited to meet each other. Although, after dozens of skype sessions, 17 months into things, it certainly felt like we had met! I was up to about 1600 page views a day, on average,(Nov. 2014) but alas, my subscription list was still tiny. That was about to change as I learned from another guru, Jon Morrow, how to grow it.

      I’m so sorry for your troubles and glad that you were able to recover from them. Thank you for such a darling note!

  37. I am in tears. I am not usually a crier, but your tribute is so heartfelt and poignant. Eileen was such an angel. A big loss in a time where we need loving energy. Thank you for spreading her love.

    1. Hi Michi,

      While putting the post together, I was not crying. But, I sure am this morning. It’s cathartic however. And I’m incredibly moved by this outpouring of love. xoxo

  38. Laurel-
    Thank you so much for posting this tribute to our darling Eileen. I loved hearing her voice through her posts to you.

    She was a total cup of coffee gal.

    I can not tell you how many times I texted her in the early morning and said, Got your cup of jo? I have mine. Calling in 15.

    She will be so missed.

    1. Oh Sally, so wonderful to hear from you. I know that you were very close to Eileen. And, thank you for organizing her birthday tsunami of birthday cards last August. That was a brilliant idea! xoxo

  39. So very sorry for your loss. What a wonderful tribute to your friend and mentor. Thank you for all you do—sharing this wonderful story as well as your knowledge and decorating expertise.

    1. Thank you Michele. You can be sure that Eileen has many lovely friends as well and I’m talking about her homies. I know that they took excellent care of her when she returned from her two week stint in the hospital last June. I understand that her local community which is absolutely devastated. Yes, they must be.

  40. What a lovely tribute to your friend, Laurel. It saddens me so much to see that so many people of all ages succumb to this insidious disease. I’m glad she was there for you when you needed her. Blessings to you.


    1. Thank you Connie. I have another friend with breast cancer that came back. She’s also a very lovely woman. It well and truly sucks.

      I think I should add a note as a matter of public interest. Eileen told me that she vigilantly had mammograms EVERY year. However, her tissue was dense as is mine and a lot of other women have this too. Women with dense breast tissue show up on a mammogram as white. Breast cancer also shows up as white. They missed it. And they said that it might’ve been FIVE YEARS that they missed it. OMG! I don’t know what stage she was at on initial diagnosis, but I gather that it was not early based on the length of her treatment.

      This is why if you’re told that you have dense breast tissue, it is vital to have your mammogram AND an ultra sound exam as well– every year.

  41. Value those friendships while you can and revel in the memories after the person is gone. A couple of years ago I was trying to get my friend to come to Green Bay for the Packers/Patriots game. A couple of weeks prior, he emailed “call, I have news.” The news was he had ALS. Fourteen months later he was gone. But the memories will ALWAYS live on. Rest in peace to all our loved ones.

  42. Oh Laurel, I’m so sorry for your loss. And for all that knew her. She sounds like an amazing lady. You were lucky to have had her in your life as you did.
    I have found that people like that change you. Change how you see the world & how you treat others. When you find that you want to be like them, is there a better compliment?
    This was a beautiful tribute. It makes me wish I had known her also.
    Please take care of yourself as you’re grieving.

    1. Hi Mary,

      Sometimes when I got a particularly nasty troll, I would send their hurtful note to Eileen for review. She always had an answer that made me feel better. Things like “they must be drunk” or “people who write these things forget that there’s a real person on the other end of the note– with real feelings!”

  43. I’m so sorry for your loss. She sounds like a very special person and you were so fortunate to have found each other.

  44. That’s very sad Laurel, my sincere sympathies. So unfair for someone so young. This was a very beautiful and moving tribute to your dear friend and to your friendship with her. May her memory be a blessing always.

  45. What a beautiful story. I’m so sorry for the world’s loss of such a kind gracious funny smart soul.

  46. Laurel, my condolences for your loss. It is so difficult to lose a close friend, especially one that offered that kind of marvelous support. Our good friends really do keep us afloat sometimes, don’t they. I really enjoyed reading her comments: you can really see her wonderful sense of humour and dynamic personality.

  47. You have made Eileen Lonergan alive for us who didn’t have the joy of knowing her. Thank you. She reminded me so much of my sister who also died from lung cancer who, like Eileen, was my mentor, my validator, my cheerleader. This made me cry but more than that it made me smile.

    1. Hi Pat,

      Oh, I’m so sorry. I lost my brother a long time ago when he was only 38. (heart arrhythmia) But honestly, everything good that’s ever happened to me is a result of his passing. Of course, we don’t know what would have happened if he were still alive. He always used to say that when you’re dead, you’re dead. However, in his passing, he has proven that theory to be wrong. We live on in the hearts of those who loved us and their spirits guide us in everything we do.

    1. Thank you Shelley. Every word is impressive. I just checked. There are 3,812 words, lol. How geeky of me. But, I do believe that this is the longest post– ever, word-wise. That seems appropriate. Eileen gets a twofer. She would be laughing so hard at that. I can just hear her! She had a wonderful sense of humor. Translation. She laughed at all of my jokes. haha! No, but she really did have a marvelous sense of humor and made me laugh a lot too.

  48. What a lovely tribute to your friend, Laurel. Her personality comes shining through. How lucky you both were to have met each other.

    1. Hi Alexa,

      I do believe that the Universe provides. But one has to be open to the opportunities. OR, one has to be in enough pain. It has always been the pain that made me grow and develop. It’s like, “thanks for dumping on me, now what?”

  49. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    She taught you well, but you’ll keep going strong and will continue to own your corner of the internet. I’m a special ed teacher in Idaho and I have a house so full of knotty alder that you would tell me to set it all on fire. That said, your blog is the only one I faithfully read. Stay strong and continue to build on what your friend taught you. I suspect there are millions like me who are devoted to your blog and will always remain loyal readers. Take care and heal.

  50. A lovely tribute to a remarkable woman. I feel she must have been proud of you. I am so sorry for your loss. Every blog you write is a tribute to her.
    Bw Laura

  51. Laurel,
    You are so kind and such a wonderful writer. I look foreword to reading your blog each week. I especially love reading that you picked yourself up in dark time and became a success. You are an inspiration. I am so sorry you lost such a good friend and mentor. This post is a mitzvah I shared it 🙂
    Thank you.

    1. Thank you for all, Elizabeth. I’ve come to realize that everyone has their own private “shitshow,” no matter how perfect it might look; it’s not. I think it’s helpful to understand that.

  52. Oh I am so very sad to hear this news! On your recommendation, I asked Eileen for some help on my website almost a year ago. She knew how limited my budget was but never made me feel insignificant. My page views doubled in a week. She talked me down off a cliff when my site was hacked and pointed me in the right direction for help. She also was a frequent commenter, showing how much she cared about her clients beyond what they were paying her for. I knew she’d gotten sick again, but oh my that was so fast! Much love and prayers for all her dear family and friends. She was/ is a lovely, lovely soul.

    1. Oh, Amy, I didn’t know or at least don’t remember that Eileen helped you. But aside from the ones I mentioned, I believe it was dozens of people I don’t know. She did mention that she was busy with people who had heard about her from me.

      With me, she always minimized what was going on. But, I knew. I read all about it and understood her prognosis to be poor.

      I’m so glad that you got a chance to work with her!

  53. Hello Laurel, I am sorry that you have lost your friend and mentor, Eileen Lonergan. From your stories of her and quotations of her comments, we can all take lessons in how to be generous and gracious.

  54. What a beautiful tribute to an amazing person. Thank you for sharing, Laurel, and for reminding us to take the extra second to think about those who have impacted our own lives. I’m so sorry for your loss, and hope Eileen’s story reaches Page One status.

  55. Laurel,
    Thank you so much for introducing me to Eileen and for creating such a touching tribute to Eileen. The use of specific phrases and the judicious sharing of images really brings her to life and signifies how special your relationship with her was. Sometimes I believe we don’t really exist; instead, we are all just stories….

  56. Laurel:

    Beautiful story. Eileen was “Heaven” sent. She came into your life at just the right time and worked her magic to help you turn things around.

    May her spirit always warm your heart.


  57. I am so sorry Laurel. I could swear I remember her Christmas decorating comment.

    She will never be truly gone. It is so wonderful and strange how the internet connects us all. You affect our lives every day as we live with design choices influenced by you. How glorious it is to touch so many lives.

    Best wishes for a peaceful Sunday,


  58. Oh Laurel, my heart goes out to you😢
    What a Beautiful tribute to a dear friend.
    I find it comforting to hear stories of synchronous friendships
    …for thereby you have entertained Angels unawares
    Thank you Laurel

  59. I am so sorry for your loss, Laurel, and for Eileen’s family as well. It reminds us all to keep our loved ones close in our hearts no matter how far away they may live or how busy our lives become. How fortunate you were to know Eileen and I have no doubt she felt the same about you; the beauty of a true friendship.

    1. You know… She rarely sent me a bill. I would say to her after I knew she had spent a long time on something. “Eileen, send me a bill!” She usually ignored me.

  60. There’s a hug in the wind on its way to you Laurel. What a beautiful way to honour your dear friend. Your heart must be so full with your wonderful memories. xxx

  61. Dear Laurel,

    I’m so very sorry for your loss. What a lovely tribute to your friend. May her memory be a blessing.


  62. That was a lovely tribute to Eileen, Laurel, and I am sorry for your loss. Any friend would be touched to be remembered like that. The “shitshow” comment made me giggle. In fact, a dear friend that I haven’t spoken to in a long time used to use that word and I will have to give her a call in the morning. Your post is a great message to not take tomorrows for granted. Thank you, Laurel.

  63. Dear Laurel, What a moving tribute to your friend and mentor, Eileen Lonergan. Thank you for sharing your memories of her and capturing the essence of her spirit. Eight years ago I lost my dear brother to lung cancer on my birthday, October 27th, so in my own way, I get it. Eileen was right about your being generous with your knowledge. Though only a recent subscriber, I’ve already passed on your valuable blog to my friends. Take care of yourself and many thanks.

  64. Dear Laurel – how sad that your dear friend, Eileen Lonergan,
    is gone.
    Your writing about her is just the beginning of her legacy…
    It’s wonderful that you two created those strong bonds of friendship and admiration.
    Keep strong going forward …

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