There's no good way to start a post like this, so I'll just say it: our friend Megan passed away on March 21 and life is not the same. We first heard about Megan's diagnosis with stage IV stomach cancer last July while we were on vacation in New York on that ill-fated trip. There were no words then and there really are no words now. What I can say, though, is that in the face of death I think a lot about life. Knowing Megan's attitude and personality, I think that's what she would want her broad circle of friends and family to do.
I think about looking out at the women who surrounded me at my baby shower in November 2011 and seeing Megan standing there. What I wanted to say to everyone there (but couldn't quite get out) is how fortunate I am to be surrounded by so many strong, successful women, and how I am so glad that Natalie will have such a powerful circle of women surrounding her, teaching her how to be strong and confident and smart and funny. Megan isn't physically present in that circle now, but there are lessons I take from Megan's personality and her life that I hope I can help Natalie embrace as she grows older.
Find balance in your life.
Work hard, but not too much. Read things that are serious but also things that are silly. Eat healthy, but let yourself have the cupcake you earned. Value solitude as much as you value amazing parties. Participate in a variety of activities you enjoy. Have strong opinions, but learn when to speak up and when to stay quiet. Experience gratitude each day, but recognize that you're human and it's OK cry or complain, too. Explore new opportunities, but allow yourself time to lounge around the house.
Take pride in yourself and your life.
Take pride in your appearance: look good and you'll feel good. Take pride in your home: keep it welcoming, clean, and comfortable. Take pride in your schoolwork and your job: always do your best work.
Recognize that the most important thing in life is other people.
Stay in close contact with the people who matter. Make plans; keep them. Organize events; bring your friends together. Tell people that you value them. Send cards and thoughtful gifts. Be a role model in your workplace. Nothing is more important than giving people your time and talents.
Even though Natalie was alive for over a year of Megan's life, Natalie won't remember the little things, like the time she spit up on Megan's silk shirt when Megan kindly offered to feed her and instead of being upset Megan just brushed it off, saying, "I knew what I signed up for!", or how Megan made silly faces and noises to entertain Natalie during an in-the-car meltdown when Meg was in the midst of chemo, or how Megan tried to trick me and tried to buy Natalie's baby food one day when we were out grocery shopping after Megan's diagnosis. One day when the time is right I'll tell Natalie more about Megan. No doubt that time will be many years away. But Megan will always be, among a host of infinite things to many people, an example of strength to inspire my daughter.