Saturday, January 14, 2012

Maggie May

Mandee, me, and Maggie in January 2005

My dear friend Maggie went to be with Jesus last weekend. Today was her memorial service in San Jose, CA. I wanted to be there so badly. It really broke my heart to be sitting here when all I wanted to do was join with those who were celebrating her amazing life. I wanted to make my contribution, to share my memories of Maggie and bring glory to the God who gave her to us. Here are some of the joys from my friendship with Maggie May.

In 2004, Maggie moved to Waverly, IA, to intern at Open Bible Church. I was the children's pastor, she was a licensed minister as well and looking to get some experience and possibly find a ministry position in the Central Region. I remember meeting her in Jim and Sharon's backyard. I don't remember much else about her coming. It just seems like we were friends from the start. Maggie loved to put puzzles together, and so did I, so my puzzle collection grew exponentially while Maggie was here. We could do a 1,000 piece puzzle in one evening! She was awesome; I have issues concentrating, but she just kicked it.

We went to the Fall Minister's Retreat together and shared a room that year. I just remember that the theme was something about marriage, and I'm pretty sure Maggie and I were the only single ministers there. :) We bonded a lot that week! I remember some serious hip-hop action on the road trip. I'm pretty sure it was in Branson that year, so we had to have met up with my sisters. I wish I could remember more about that. 

The picture below was at the 2004 Harvest Party. People still remember her costume. I'm so glad I have pictures of it!!

This is a silly thing, but I remember Bath and Body Works released a new fragrance that year, Black Raspberry Vanilla. We both loved it. Every time I smell it, I think of her.

Maggie helped me with a Kid's Night Out pajama party. This is a picture of us that night. She was so much fun!

I remember sitting in my living room eating Rolos and assembling a puzzle while we watched the 2004 presidential election results.

I got Maggie on the Weight Watchers train with me, so we counted points together. It have always enjoyed introducing people to Weight Watchers because it's so easy to follow, and it was great to see her excitement at losing a few pants sizes that year. I remember once we rode bikes from the Long's house to East Bremer Diner and back. I figured if we rode the whole way, we could eat yummy broasted chicken and burn it back off. :)

Maggie sang "Breath of Heaven" at Christmas time, and I did a human video with it. That was a great experience. Everyone who heard her sing said she had the voice of an angel, and she really, really did. She and Bill sang together a couple of times, and I wish I had a copy of one of them. I would love to hear it again and again.

It was really hard on Maggie that she couldn't afford to go home for Christmas that year. She stayed here with the Long family, and they bought her a djembe for Christmas. It was a great gift for her, and she loved it. She loved them so much. She couldn't have asked for a better family to treat her as their own during her time in Waverly.

I remember playing Donkey Konga with Maggie over at the Long's. Man, she was so stinking good at that game! She had serious skills...she killed everyone. I loved watching her play it (not necessarily playing against her, though!!).

My birthday was in January, and we went out with friends that evening. Here's a picture of Natalie, Mandee, me, Maggie, and Jen. It was such a fun night. Maggie had the most beautiful smile and the best laugh. I can still hear it.

A couple in our church own a bed and breakfast, and they gave me a free night to stay there for Pastor's Appreciation. I took Maggie with me, and I remember doing puzzles (of course) and watching movies all night long. We had a great time, and Maggie is the only person beside Matt with whom I have stayed at a B&B! :-)

They also have a working farm, so we got a tour the next day. Here is a picture of us with the brand new baby calves in the background.

Maggie struggled with loneliness and missing her family for much of her time in Waverly. She had never been this far away from home, certainly not for such a long period of time, and it was really hard on her for a lot of reasons. She eventually left in February to move back home. She had also started talking to Morgan on the phone, and they ended up getting engaged in May (I believe) and married in August, so I think it all worked out the way it should have. Before she left, Maggie and I went out with Bill and Natalie one night. Here's a picture of me, Maggie, and Bill at Jag's Java.

I was pretty sad when Maggie left. I had very few (if any) single friends in Waverly, and it was really great to have someone to spend time with. It was only a few months after she left that Matt and I started hanging out, but I was glad he had known her (he took over her guitar class when she left in February).

Maggie and I kept up on the phone pretty often, especially at first. She asked me to be in her wedding in August, but I wasn't able to do it. We always commented on the fact that she lived here for only about 6 months, but God knit our hearts together in that time. We shared a closeness that defied the short span of our time together. We could catch up on the phone as if no time had passed.

I remember when she called to tell me she had breast cancer. I remember that Matt and I went to San Jose for vacation in 2007, and it was only months later that she and Morgan moved to San Jose to take a youth pastor position. I was SO bummed that we had not been able to see her when we were so close.

I never did see Maggie after she moved from Waverly. I can't even remember for sure our last phone conversation. I had left her messages for a few months, but we never caught up on the phone in recent months. I had been telling Matt for a few months that I really wanted to go visit her. I looked up tickets, thought about bringing Bella, and tried to decide if waiting until January would be okay since our fall was so busy. I had a feeling it would not work out for some reason. I knew if I didn't go in the fall, I would probably not get to see her.

I wanted to see her again. I wanted to tell Maggie how important she was to me, how glad I am that God allowed our paths to cross here in Waverly, Iowa. Maggie was a bright shining light in my life. Even though this was a hard season for her, I just remember her with a huge smile on her face. I remember her laugh and the joy she exuded. I will never forget how, every time I talked to her on the phone, she always wanted to know about me and didn't want to complain about her cancer or the treatment or the pain she was in.

Maggie inspired me with her life, with her joy and her complete devotion to God. I always figured God would heal Maggie and use her to be an amazing testimony of His grace and goodness. She is that testimony, but not in the way I imagined. I could hardly look at my baby girl this week without wanting to cry, thinking about how much God has blessed me to be a mom and get to raise her when Maggie wanted that so badly for so many years. God's grace has given me this gift and so many others. I know the challenge is to keep from taking them all for granted, especially as time passes and Maggie isn't the first thing on my mind when I wake up in the morning.

I am determined to use the years I have left on this earth to be the shining light that Maggie was to me and countless others. I am determined that light will not fade just because Maggie is not here with us. I know it still shines in me, and I think it shines brighter because I am carrying on the light she left here. She doesn't need it anymore, after all. She has all the Light she will ever need.

I love you, Maggie. I will never forget you or your joy or your laugh. I will always be grateful for our friendship. I will cherish the memories I have. I will look forward to the day when I see you again. Save some puzzles for me!