Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tribute To Megan

The following was sent to me yesterday. It was Megan's birthday and this was written three years ago by an 18-year-old friend of Megan. With her permission, I share with you:

"There is a person who has been a part of my life since I was born. Her name is Megan. Megan is 26 years old and has been my neighbor, my babysitter and my friend all of my life. I have been thinking a lot about Megan lately, despite the hectic pace of my life as I begin my senior year in high school. As I run during Cross Country practice each day, as I make college visits, start college applications, do my homework – whatever I am doing, often, my thoughts are on Megan.

Megan has recently been diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD). Last Spring, while Megan was at our house, she told us that she had been unusually forgetful lately. She had recently been involved in two minor traffic accidents and, as she left our house that day, realized that she had locked her keys in her car. Since I have known Megan, she has always had an amazing work ethic. At that time, she was teaching elementary school full time, working on Saturdays in a book store and was house sitting and babysitting many evenings and weekends. Like her family doctor, we all thought she was doing too much and needed to take a vacation. As her symptoms progressed, Megan was tested for brain tumors, Multiple Sclerosis and other diseases. Everytime we got word that the tests were negative, we breathed a sigh of relief. We did not know that we would look back and wish those tests had been positive because, in most cases, there is some kind of treatment for those conditions. There is no treatment for CJD. The website says it plainly: “The disease in invariably fatal.” The typical time from onset until death is twelve months.

It is hard to face the fact that Megan may not be here on this earth when I graduate next Spring. Or she may be gone when I enter college. I have always thought the word “heartbreaking” is a melodramatic, outdated, useless word. I don’t feel that way anymore.

Sometimes when I think about Megan, I realize how lucky I am to be alive and healthy – something I never thought about before. Especially during this year of my life when my friends and I are all focusing on the next step in our futures, we never consider that the next years could be taken from us. We never stop to think that we won’t graduate, go to college, graduate again and go on. As busy as we all are getting ready for the future, who has time to enjoy a single day, an hour, a moment?

Other times, I think about all of the prayers I have said for Megan, all of the ones I continue to say. I have asked God for Megan’s full and complete recovery. From what I have learned about CJD, “invariably fatal” means that my prayers will not be answered. There is no one I know that deserves to live more than Megan. She is young, kind, intelligent, compassionate. She doesn’t drive fast, drink, take drugs – she teaches little kids in a low income school and asks us and all of her friends for donations of used clothes, books, computers for her students and their families. Why can’t our prayers for her be answered?

My family has spent some time these last months remembering all of the fun we have had with Megan over the years. When my sister and I were little, Megan would get every blanket and sheet out of the linen closet and build forts for us in our basement, despite my mom’s grumbling about the mess. She would create board games for us on poster boards, bake cakes with us, watch movies and play make believe with us. My parents would always call Megan on their way home when Megan was babysitting because Megan never got us to go to sleep when she was with us. My parents wanted a break from putting us to bed when Megan babysat but they never got one because we were having too much fun to go to bed.

As I grew older, Megan would come and stay with me whenever my parents went out of town. We would still bake cakes and watch movies, we would do something creative like paint pottery or bead jewelry. While we were together, we talked. Megan is a great person to get advice from. She really listens and she relates to what I am going through. She is not the person to take things too seriously or too lightly. Through the years, she has shown me that everyone has problems at times and most of them work themselves out if you do your best to be a good person. Megan told my sister and me about the times she embarrassed herself, the times her friends seem to turn against her, the times her sister and brother were annoying her, the times her parents didn’t have a clue about her life. All of those experiences had a very familiar ring to them.

I’m not sure I can identify all of the things I have learned from Megan. I think I will probably be discovering ways she has affected me for the rest of my life. There is no question that the diagnosis of her CJD has changed me. I will pause now and then during this busy year and be grateful that I am alive as I pray again for Megan. Problems that come up this year will be put in a different perspective. I will do my best to be a good person and try to be patient as problems work themselves out or fade in importance. As I continue through life, I will try to be creative and helpful like Megan has been throughout her life. I will try to be an example to a younger person as Megan has been – and will be my whole life – to me.

The last time I saw Megan, she hugged me and gave me a huge smile. She couldn’t remember many words so she didn’t say much, but I showed her pictures from my week at a Young Life camp in Colorado. She smiled and nodded her head and listened to me, as she has all of my life. I hope I showed her how much she means to me. I hope she knows."