Many years ago, my friend Megan told me that she was going to go camping by herself for a week in the mountains of Utah.
“You’re going to do what?” I asked, incredulously. “I think that’s a very bad idea, what with bears and mountain lions and rapists and all.”
She was not to be dissuaded. We compromised with Megan agreeing to call me whenever possible throughout that week to check in and let me know she was alive, unmauled, and unraped. The thing is, while I would never describe Megan as fearless, I would say that she never let fear get in her way.
Megan passed away this past week, succumbing finally to the cancer that she battled for over three years. Cancer is a word that puts the fear of God into everyone, but pancreatic cancer practically paralyzes. Except it didn’t paralyze Megan. In her matter-of-fact way, she researched, she studied, and she fought. She fought hard. People aren’t generally victorious over pancreatic cancer, but she convinced me she could win, primarily because she never thought beating it was out of the realm of possibilities. I can’t say that she wasn’t afraid; I can, however, say that once again she didn’t let fear get in her way.
I never understood why we were friends. We couldn’t have been more different. She was ever-so-much smarter than I. We were thrown together in the capacity of our respective jobs. She was a research analyst for the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority, and I was a writer. Not long after Megan began working at CHFA, the two of us were asked by the powers-that-be to write an application for an award by a national housing organization. We immediately found that we worked well together as a team. We had mutual respect and — perhaps more important — we liked to laugh, though my puns fell flat next to hers. And we found each other to be quite hilarious, thank you very much. CHFA won the award, and we were asked to write more applications.
Literally, the day before she died, we laughed (for about the millionth time) about one error we nearly made on an application that we worked on well into the night. CHFA’s mission in part was to provide affordable housing to those in need. In our application, instead of saying CHFA houses the under-served, we inadvertently put CHFA hoses the undeserved. I’m happy to say we caught that error before anyone important saw it, and managed to keep our jobs. We also forged a solid friendship.
Megan collected friends. She had lots of them, from all different times of her life. Unlike many people (cough, me), she held on to friends mightily, because to Megan, friends were more than friends; they were family. She also was close to her siblings, and though life with her parents was not always smooth-sailing, she had a strong relationship with her father until he died, and with her mother, who will outlive Megan.
Some might be surprised to hear that during the past couple of years, one of the things we often did together was attend the noon Mass at the Cathedral downtown. I don’t know as I would say that Megan was devoutly religious. She was much too practical to rely on faith alone without proof of the existence of God. Still, there was a yearning for something beyond herself. She would say to me, “I wish I could just believe in God like you.” But she was ALWAYS the one to initiate going to Mass. I was more concerned about the lunch we would have after. Often that was the Imperial Restaurant where we had — every single time — the sesame chicken. They will miss us!
And I will miss Megan. This past December, she sent me this email the day after my birthday…..
I should have said this yesterday, face to face, but I think disease makes me self-centered, and I had completely forgotten it was your birthday. Happy birthday!
I am so thankful that your parents had you, and raised you to have such a great sense of humor, an upbeat energy, and a fierce sense of self (acknowledging you aren’t ALWAYS saintly). I’m so thankful you choose to share all that with me in our friendship, especially now when I might otherwise sink down into a morass of self-pity. So this isn’t a present or a real birthday card, but I didn’t think, in these hard times, a thumbs-up on Facebook was quite enough.
And, can I say…it was a present and a real birthday card.
I will miss Megan very much, and I hope that right now, God is telling her, “See? Your friend Kris was right all along.” At which time he will hand her a gin martini with a prairie fire chaser.
Scott and Megan and Bill and I following dinner at one of Megan’s favorite steak houses, Bastien’s.
This was taken not too long after she was first diagnosed with cancer. We were celebrating because her cancer marker numbers were improving. Thus, the champagne. And we were at, where else?, Imperial.
I couldn’t possibly love this photo more. It was taken not long after her initial diagnosis.
One day we took a field trip on the A Line to the airport since neither of us had ridden that rail line. We had lunch at the expensive Westin Hotel. I love this photo because her glasses were crooked, which they almost always were!