Student publishes memoir of struggles and triumphs

Kirkwood Community College student Lilo Baurer began the writing process for Letting Go; Loving Forever with their mother back in the fall of 2020. A personal memoir, LG;LF recounts the sudden passing of Lilo’s father, Jeff Baurer, and the subsequent turmoil that befell the Baurer family, as well as their ultimate resilience and recovery.   

Q: Your book touches upon issues such as gender identity and self-acceptance, issues that are evidently quite important to you. Would you say that your passion for these issues motivated you throughout the writing process?   

A: Yes. I grew up in a town that was not as accepting or open to being anything other than cisgendered and heterosexual. That was very confusing—as a queer person—to grow up with; when you don’t have any role models or anyone telling you that what you’re experiencing is normal. I want to be a face for the LGBTQIA+ community, especially for teens who are still trying to figure out who they are.  

Q: In your book, you talk about the “troubled teen industry.” What kind of industry is that? 

A: The troubled teen industry is a multi-billion-dollar industry that preys on vulnerable families with kids who are struggling with either mental health or a lack of support from their community, school systems, and parents. Most of the kids who are sent into the troubled teen industry don’t need to be. 

In my case, I was in constant crisis and my mom didn’t have much of a choice, looking back as an adult who has survived that industry. I can confidently say that if I had learned how to communicate with my family after my dad died before treatment, I probably wouldn’t have ever gotten to that point in crisis. It’s definitely a predatory industry that shouldn’t exist.   

Q: It sounds like you and your family endured quite a bit of hardship following your father’s passing. What would you say was the key for sticking together through such trying times?   

A: The number one thing is just love: putting love above all else. When it comes to love, actions mean more than words. When my mom initially sent me to the first few long-term institutions, I was angry. I felt very unloved and unwanted after being ripped from my home in the middle of the night. 

My mom, being a single mother of three kids after losing her life partner, only intended to save my life. The love we had for each other was how I found my way out of my darkness, with my mother’s guidance.  

Q: Though he passed away over a decade ago, would you say that your father still plays an active role in your life?      

A: Yes, my dad definitely still plays an active role in my life. I’ve had multiple instances when I could still feel my dad with me. My family uses the dragonfly as a symbol of change and new beginnings, hence the dragonfly pattern on the cover. 

During hard times, I will often see dragonflies and I remind myself that I can do this because he’s still here with me. 

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