The last few weeks have been a sobering reminder that life can be so short and our moments with loved ones so fleeting. A couple of posts ago, I wrote about my friend R taking her own life.
On January 1 I was shocked by the sad news that one of Aidan’s primary NICU nurses, Kathi, had lost her beautiful daughter Megan in a tragic ice climbing accident on New Years Eve. Megan was only 24 years old and had a bright future ahead of her. She graduated with honors from the University of Washington earlier this year, had aced her MCAT and interviewed at the UW Medical School. Her goal was to become a doctor and practice family medicine in a rural community. There are a couple of beautiful obituaries done on her in the Redmond Reporter and the Seattle Times.
I went to her memorial service yesterday. Though I did not know Megan, if the stories her mom had always shared with me were any indication of the type of person her daughter was I knew that I had missed out on knowing an incredibly beautiful person. My understanding from talking to another mourner was that the church held at least 700 people and it was literally standing room only. I was immediately taken by the outpouring of love for Megan and her family.
There was a glorious photo of Megan in the foyer of the church. The songs chosen for the service were beautiful. One of the priests spoke about who Megan was as a person. I was sitting in awe of a young woman who had done so much. Who embraced the outdoors, her family, and the opportunity to give back to her community and to help the less fortunate among us.
Kathi wrote and read a beautiful narrative about life with Megan. Speaking lovingly and tenderly about welcoming her into the world, stories of her childhood, and recent stories of her coming into her own womanhood. Traveling to Italy and studying abroad.
A couple of her closest girlfriends shared funny stories and one read Megan’s letter of application to medical school. It was clear that Megan must have gotten her writing ability from her mother, Kathi. It was filled with passion and evoked feelings of wanting to help others. I have no doubt she was on her way to a brilliant career in medicine.
The family compiled the most touching DVD presentation I have ever witnessed. Pictures of all of the stages of Megan’s life danced across the screen set to two different songs. The first was “Wide Open Spaces” by the Dixie Chicks. What a perfect song. Looking at all of the pictures of Megan out in nature and exploring the world was so well narrated by this song. The DVD ended with “Bookends Theme” by Simon & Garfunkel.
There were gorgeous pictures of tons of family adventure. A young Kathi with her young daughter. Megan’s brother Ryan putting up rabbit ears in one photo and tenderly holding his new baby sister in another. A proud father, Tom, taking his family out on numerous outdoor adventures. Kathi and Megan cooking in the kitchen. So much beauty. So much love.
I don’t believe I saw a dry eye anywhere I looked.
Kathi and Tom so clearly did the most amazing job raising Megan. I sincerely hope Kathi and Tom are so very proud of their Megan. I do so wish I had had the honor to know her. Instead I hope that Kathi will fill my head and heart with numerous memories of Megan as she feels ready to do so.
Kathi (if you are reading this), you mean the world to me. You helped me see light and hope during the darkest days of my life. You provided a scared, scarred, shell shocked preemie mom with understanding, compassion, and hope. You were the first nurse who really gave me hope that Aidan had a chance. You recognized my tremendous postpartum emotions on the day I had to go home without my baby and decided to find a way to let me hold him before I had to go home with empty arms. You were the first to place my child in my arms and allow me to breathe in the sweet smell of Aidan. You talked me through endless hours of questions, sorrow, and doubt. You cared for my baby like he was yours.
You were there for me in ways great and small. I can never repay you for all you did for my son and all you did to heal my wounded heart. I don’t know the best way to help you. All I know is that I desperately want to. I hope, in some way, I can repay the tremendous kindnesses and friendship you have shown me.
Brandon and Aidan and I all love you. Thank you for being you.
These are the photos that Kathi made possible. The first time I got to hold my son. He was only 5 days old.
Pictures of Kathi taking care of Aidan while still in the NICU.
Some of our visits with Kathi in the months after discharge.
Kathi, Daddy, and Aidan at the 2007 Preemie Picnic.