Every epic battle has to eventually come to an end. And sometimes, just sometimes, the way the battle is fought is a whole lot more important than who won or lost. Meg’s battle finally came to an end October 6th, and she put up one hell of a courageous fight.
Monday morning Meg began to experience some breathing distress while I was holding her in my arms. I laid her on the bed and called 911. Paramedics and fire firefighters arrived and rushed her to the hospital. Nothing would be the same again.
Earlier that night Meg and I were sitting next to each other in the couch. Meg leaned over and placed her forehead against mine. She wrapped her arms around my neck, looked straight into my eyes, and said, “I love you so much.” I pulled her in tighter and told her, “I love you more than anything.” We just sat there and sucked up the moment. Meg and I had so many moments like this. Little did we know this was going to be the last one. Knowing now how events were going to play out, I am so thankful for this moment. It has been a spot of comfort and refuge in a sea of chaos and heartbreak.
After my parents arrived at our house to take care of the girls, I rushed to the hospital emergency room and met Meg’s parents. Shortly after arriving we were able to see Meg. Nothing quite prepared me for what I saw. Meg was on a ventilator, very jaundiced, and non-responsive. At the time, that was the single scariest moment of my life only to be outdone by the series of events that followed.
We never left Meg’s side, holding her hand, rubbing her head, and telling her how much we loved her. A bit later we were asked to leave so the doctors could place a central line to more effectively monitor Meg’s condition and deliver medications. A while after the doctor came to inform us that he was unable to complete the procedure due to some complications. He said they would try again on the femoral artery after Meg was moved to the ICU. But before he left he confided in us that Meg’s situation was very grave. He did not expect Meg to live through the day.
The ICU team that cared for Meg was no less than amazing. They were professional yet caring and compassionate. They did everything in their power to help Meg turn that corner to recovery, but Meg’s poor body had just had enough. Her condition continued to deteriorate. We reached a moment, where despite all efforts, Meg’s blood pressure and heart rate steadily declined. We had reached a point of no return. Following Meg’s wishes and desires, I had the doctors remove the ventilator. Surrounded by family and friends pouring forth love in a manner that I hardly imagined possible, Meg’s heart beat its last beat. With her hand in mine and a last whisper of, “I love you more than anything,” Meg passed away.
How do I even begin to describe Meg’s life? It was unconditional love and happiness. Joy and hope. Inspiration and friendship. She wowed me everyday. I still don’t know how she was able to everything she did. She was an amazing Mother! She was an amazing wife! She was an amazing friend! She was able to see people as they were and accept them as just that, but it went beyond that. She was able to inspire people to be better versions of themselves. She made me a better me. Ellie would squeal, “Momma!” whenever Meg came home or picked her up. Cora’s face just lit up with the biggest smile when she saw Meg. She made the world a far better place by having just been in it.
The outpouring of love and support and family and friends is exactly what the girls and I need right now. Even though I’m not lonely there is a hole in the middle of chest that appeared the moment she was gone.
Ellie misses her Mommy so much. When I got home from the hospital I took Ellie upstairs to have a talk. We sat down and she asked, “Where’s Momma?”
“That’s what we have to talk about little girl. Mommy was really, really sick. So sick she had to go to the hospital. The doctors tried really hard to make Momma feel better, but she was just too sick. Mommy died little girl.”
“But when’s she coming home Daddy?”
“I’m sorry little girl. Mommy’s not coming home.”
“Ohhh. I miss mommy.”
“I miss Mommy too little girl. When we miss Mommy we have to remember that Mommy will always be in our hearts. So when we get sad or we really miss Mommy we just have to close our eyes really tight and remember all the good, happy things we did with Mommy.”
“Mommy’s in our hearts?”
“Yes she is! What are some things you remember about Mommy little girl?”
“Mommy paints with me, she made mac ‘n cheese with me, we went to the zoo. . .”
That’s how Ellie found out, and everyday, sometimes several times a day, she asks to hear what happened and we remember all the good things about Mommy.
Meg, I love you! Meg, I miss you!
I think I’m going to leave this blog post right where it’s at for now because I’m starting to ramble. Phyllis, Meg’s mom, wanted to leave some great words and thoughts on this page, so I’ll end it with her tribute:
When Meg was born two people became a family. Our whole lives changed. She made us look at life from a whole new perspective and appreciation. She brought such joy.
Meg had attitude. From her first word, cookie, she knew what she wanted. Everyone in grade school knew Meg. I used to hear "you're Meg's mom" from teachers 4-5 years ahead of Meg's. In junior high school, Meg did it all. Cheerleader, softball, track, basketball, volleyball, handbells, tutoring and student body president -and still brought home amazing grades. When Meg started high school, she didn't know a soul. That didn't keep her from jumping in with both feet. She called me halfway thru orientation day to let me know that she was still at school - she was helping the leadership team. She continued in that leadership role for the rest of her life. A summer in the Dominican Republic teaching teen girls how to run their own small Bible groups. AVID coordinator at Serrano Middle School and most recently AVID coordinator for the district. Meg was someone you could always look up to. Her talents were many. She was an amazing cookie baker (remember her first word - should have known) a talented crapbooker, a great sales person and an amazing support giver.
After Meg's first date with Sam she told me "this one's different". Little did we know then that she had found the love of her life. At 26 Meg and Sam embarked on their own life together. Meg was immediately embraced as part of the Sager/Tidswell clan. She loved having a house full of people at Thanksgiving - even if the house wasn't always hers. Then at 29 they started their own family. Ellie was the joy of her life. Her little sweet pea. She and Sam always shared Ellie's firsts with us. Her first trip to Disneyland her first time at Vince's Spaghetti her first trip to the aquarium. Then along came pregnancy number two and we were all over the moon with joy and excitement.
Meg loved to travel. Hawaii, Australia, Europe, the DR, Alaska, Fiji just to name a few. She loved musicals. In short, Meg loved life. Meg loved her life. That was why Meg threw herself into the battle with breast cancer with everything she had. She fought for herself, she fought for Sam and Ellie and for Cora born halfway through her chemo treatments. Despite Meg's fight and an army of supporters around the world, Meg lost that battle years sooner than expected. A big loss for her friends and a devastating loss for her family.
Just a look at postings on Facebook and a look around at the number of people here to celebrate Meg shows just how many lives she touched. Meg will continue to touch us all through our memories of her and the two beautiful girls she fought so hard to stay with.
Sam, look around at all the people who share a small part of your loss and know that the army that stood with Meg in her battle now stand behind you.
As we said at Meg and Sam's wedding, it takes a village to raise a child. It also can be said that it takes a village to build a family - indeed to build a life like Meg's. Thank you one and all for being part of Meg's village. While we mourn our loss and try to fill the hole left in our lives know that her spirit has been set free and she now soars with the angels.