Tuesday, September 27, 2011

2000 - not the way we planned it

the turn of the century was a big year for me. after y2k came and went without the earth imploding, i started to get antsy about life after high school. 

in january, i received my acceptance letter to brigham young university - the only university i even applied to. in the same envelope was also news about an academic scholarship being awarded to me. i was ecstatic, and quite relieved. i had worked hard to save money, but didn't have quite enough to straight up pay for college. 

and the icing on the whole college cake was that megan was also accepted to byu and we were going to be roommates. but one day in march, after i had turned in my intent to attend, a pale-faced megan approached me with some not-so-good news: she had decided to not attend byu.

i was devastated. that meant we weren't going to room together and i was actually going to have to meet people!? all while apologizing profusely, megan explained that she wasn't sure why she had come to this decision, but she knew it was right. 

the months passed; prom, a choir trip, *senior awards night and graduation all came and went and we began to make our separate plans. i commenced shopping for life on my own: spatulas, bed sheets and lots of boxed cereal, among other things. megan, who was instead planning to live at home and attend the university of utah {byu's arch-enemy, of all places. no fear, she's still a cougar at heart.}, joined in my excitement. 

the summer passed and we spent our working hours at einstein bagels {me} and a local smoothie shop and reception hall {meg} and our non-working hours at the pool and grocery store parking lots loading up on snow cones. it was a pretty relaxed summer - a great way to spend my final days in salt lake city. 

and then, one day in august, i got a phone call. i was at work when i got it, and it was megan, crying, on the other end. something about her dad - he was on a bike and something happened and he had a stroke? and he's at the hospital and going in for surgery. it was all such a blur and i couldn't believe what i was hearing. megan's dad joe was healthy as a horse, super active and still quite young, so this was very strange and unexpected news. as soon as my shift ended, i packaged up some bagels and cream cheese, checked in with my mom to let her know what was going on, and got permission to drive to the hospital and sit in the waiting room with megan and her family.

when i walked in, i spotted her immediately. she was there with her mom and some aunts and uncles. i don't remember if her three little brothers were there. i got some updated news that joe had just come out of surgery and was stable, but the prognosis was still unknown. he had simply been mountain biking with the scouts when it suddenly became apparent that something was very wrong.

i handed over the bagels {remembering that food was the last thing a family in crisis mode would be thinking about} and they seriously devoured the entire box. they were grateful. and i was glad i could at least do something. i remember a quiet conversation i had with meg sitting on those less-than-comfortable hospital waiting room chairs. it was pretty one sided as i knew she just needed to talk, but it went something like this, "mar," {she is the only person in the world who calls me mar - pronounced like the first half of martyr}, "i just didn't know what to do. i didn't want to bug you, but i felt like you were the only person who would know a little bit of what i was feeling because of what you had been through with your dad." there was more to the conversation, but that was the gist of it. 

and in that moment, i was actually grateful for the things i had gone through a short seven years earlier. that i had felt the confusion and uncertainty and sadness of a sick father. i prayed with all my heart that meg's situation would turn out differently than mine, but knew if it didn't that i would do everything in my power to support her and that either way, things would be okay. 

the next few months were long and hard for megan's family. but they were in such good spirits. joe initially lost use of one side of his body - hands, face, etc., but slowly, through therapy and lots and lots of hard work, regained nearly all of it. i heard one story of all of his monitors going crazy one night. his nurses ran in to see what was wrong and it was just joe doing exercises. and the first time i saw him in the hospital bed, half his hair was shaven as a result of the surgery that first night. he greeted me with a larger-than-life droopy smile and said, "hi maren! do you like my new haircut?!" 

joe was in a rehabilitation home {or something similar - kind of an annex of the hospital?} for a little while and it was then that megan's decision to not attend byu became apparent. her mom was gone to be with her dad a lot and megan, living at home, made that burden much lighter on her mom as megan was available to help with household chores and shuffling her three brothers around to where they needed to be. that would have been much more difficult, not to mention stressful, if she were even a mere 45 minutes down the freeway.

i learned two things as all of this unfolded. 

one - things happen for a reason. i know that sounds cliche, but in march, megan had no reason to believe that there was a reason she should live at home and attend the u. she wanted to go to byu. and yet, she knew she shouldn't. in the end, that decision ended up being pivotal in supporting her family. something that was ultimately much more important than what school gave her a diploma {she did graduate with her masters in accounting, by the way. she's a smarty.}

and two - my own personal experiences helped me to prepare to help megan. i think this happens more often than we realize. i don't think this was the only reason i was placed in megan's life or she was placed in mine. the web is much more complex than that. but this was just one strand that fit perfectly together. something that i had struggled with years before {and had others in my life to get me through} was turned around to hopefully help bless the life of someone else.

joe, by the way, is doing amazing. he runs marathons and participates in triathlons and he's just as funny as he always was. after our ten year reunion last summer, megan and i decided to spend the last part of the evening sitting in her mom and dad's new living room chatting with them - something we did often when we were in high school. they updated me on their life the past few years and i updated them on mine. and we talked about the past. joe even reminded me of the time he and megan were arguing about something and they came to me to settle the dispute. megan was certain i would side with her, but i didn't. and joe loved me for it. i can't think of a better way to have spent that evening. it was high school come full circle and it was perfect. 

also in 2000:
{february - junior prom after activity at a gymnastics arena - megan, maren, nicole, maquel - 
i sprained my ankle falling off a beam into this foam pit}
 {march - choir trip to disneyland - megan, nicole, alysha, maren, mary}
 {madrigals singing on the news - at 5am - monica, jeff, heather (at bottom), maren, bob, megan, caroline, katie, evelyn, suzy, erin, haylie, bethany}
 {may - maren and kelli in jackson hole}
 {june - mar and meg at graduation}
 {june - meg and mar on our graduation trip in st. george}
{august - maren the baker - please note the excellent amount of cheese on those asiago bagels}

*senior awards banquet - megan's parents were on a cruise, so she came with her brother. i came with my mom. we had both just double pierced our ears - against our parents' desires - and we were afraid to show them. so, the entire night, we left our hair in a bob in front of our ears. we were very careful - and terrified - to let them know. in the end, guilt won out and i told my mom as we pulled into the garage on our way home. she just looked at me and said, "you know how i feel about it" and left it at that. the guilt almost worked, but not quite. that's about as rebellious as i got.


ed and kelli said...

oh i remember that stuff with joe. glad he recovered! also, love my orange shorts. i got them the day my braces were SUPPOSED to come off...and my knee high socks! haha

Morgan said...

isn't that interesting the way things work out with friends. one of my best friends (since like 4th grade) had her twin brother pass away about 7 years after my brother died. when she called to tell me the news, she said all she wanted was to be with me and my family because she felt like we could understand, and help her to cope with it the way we did. she isn't a member of the church, so it was much more difficult for her to accept than it was for us, but i really believe we are put in people's lives for a reason.

megan said...

Hi Mar...I am reading this 2 years after you wrote it, but keeping up with things has never been my strength! You are correct...you were placed in my life for a reason and I remember how much you helped me during that year. I always felt so guilty about the matching quilts your mom made us for BYU! Thanks for being such a great friend and support! Love ya!

megan said...

Hi Mar...I am reading this 2 years after you wrote it, but keeping up with things has never been my strength! You are correct...you were placed in my life for a reason and I remember how much you helped me during that year. I always felt so guilty about the matching quilts your mom made us for BYU! Thanks for being such a great friend and support! Love ya!