A year has passed, but my thoughts from the blog on your 29th birthday have changed little:
I cried last weekend. Your birthday is the day I struggle with the most. Holidays present their unique challenges, but your birthday is the one day utterly devoted to you. I miss you more than you can imagine.
Though grief is often looming, much has changed in the last year. Yesterday the mail arrived with a copy of “Extraordinary Healers”. Your mom’s winning essay, Beginning to End, is the first in the book. As I flipped through the pages I was humbled to be part of such an outstanding body of writing that reflects remarkable oncology nurses and their patients from around the world. Even before your cancer diagnosis you encouraged me to write. With the first fruits of my national writing in hand, I took a deep sigh and thought ‘but when my girl wanted me to write a book, did she imagine it would be about her life and death from cancer?’
Moving on to the Talk Soup that you love…
Ryan has done really well at his job in Overland Park. You would be so proud of him. The brother that you thought would only be suited for a career in video games has quickly advanced to Project Manager, overseeing more information than I can even fathom. People ask me what he does for a living, and my response is normally, “not sure, but I know it’s something really smart.”
Your brother and Andrea separated when she went off the culinary school. For today, I’m only allowed to ask once a year if he has a girlfriend, and I used that ticket up around January 3. You brother’s next ticket will be handed to him this weekend as he packs off for work in exotic India. I can’t wait to hear about Ryan’s Great Adventures in a nation where he will stand a head above the crowd, and a land that loves curry, food that your brother despises. I told him to find me a beautiful and unique umbrella…maybe one with a cobalt batik print (similar to the one the two of you left rotting out in the rain.) If that is not possible, I told him “don’t come home without bangles.”
For today, I miss having the white decorated birthday cake waiting for you on the table and the bouquet of balloons tied to the kitchen chair. I miss Birthday Week, but I also miss Birthday Countdown where you would systematically remind me “Mom, did you know my birthday is coming up?”
It was just like yesterday that your dad drove me to Methodist Hospital (the evening of January 26) in full labor. We were not alone. Countless other Baby Boomers, who must have sensed the forthcoming snowstorm, arrived right before us. Those were not the days of midwives and private but posh hospital birthing rooms. You had to take a La Maze Class and bring a birthing coach along with your hospital bag. What the heck was a birthing coach? Since your dad had a broken leg and was in a hip cast, Molly was my coach, but she was swishing her way down the Colorado ski slopes on January 26. We never thought you would arrive on your due date. We planned early or late, but on time for a first baby was not in our vocabulary. Little did we know I was birthing a daughter who planned everything, and valued the commodity of time until her last breath.
That night it was ‘take a number’ for a labor room line, and initially I landed a premier spot on a crash cart in the hallway.
Since there was no room at the inn, your dad resigned himself to the Father’s Waiting Room so he could elevate his throbbing leg. I didn’t mind so much being alone in labor. Call me old-fashioned, but having a posse of family watch me writhe in pain was far from glamorous. It bothered me a bit that no one heard my feeble cry for ‘epidural, please!’, but for the most part alone was good. Well, if you call alone a place with countless nurses and doctors flying by, I was alone.
When the glorious moment of delivery arrived, a team wheeled your mom’s giant-sized sugar cookie body into a hospital surgery room where under the brightest of lights I began to push out a bundle joy. There was nothing unexpected about the pregnancy. What was unplanned was the speed at which you shot out into the world into the slippery hands of an obstetrician that caught you inches above the linoleum floor. This is not a made-for-blogging drama moment, but the real life truth about the day you were born. The physician’s face burst into a pool of sweat as he eked out, “You have no idea what almost just happened…” followed by “It’s a girl!” With those three words I sat up in a leap of utter surprise!
Swaddled in a pink blanket, they wheeled you to me from the nursery later that day. My life was wonderfully and irrevocably changed. What I didn’t realize, Megan, was that the sudden catch before hitting the linoleum floor was symbolic of how fragile your life was. It was the first evidence (and an often repeated pattern in your life) that God was rarely early, never late. Dr. Haswell caught you just in time. 8:32 a.m., to be exact.
Last month I felt compelled to ask your dad for your Message Translation Bible with the hot pink vinyl cover. I just wanted to know what you had marked, knowing that you did nothing carelessly or without calculated purpose. I knew whatever you flagged or highlighted had great significance to you, and I wanted to see if you left us with any final thoughts.
I have gone through almost page by page, and it appears you highlighted only one passage in your Bible from Isaiah 41.
I’ve picked you. I haven’t dropped you. Don’t panic. I’m with you.
There’s no need to fear for I’m your God.
I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you.
I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.
I cried, without reserve, upon discovery of your notes. It is dated 3/5/08. Just 18 days before you died.
This is clearly your hand writing…but penmanship that was fighting for composure. I love that you underlined “I’ve picked you.” but the double line of ink shows me how much you were struggling with motor function under a heavy narcotic load in a near paralyzed position. Highlighting in yellow and underlining in ink took tremendous effort, but you marked what was important to you that day of your life.
Surely I have digressed to talk about your dying, but your life taught all of us about living. I wrote the essay, “Beginning to End”, but you lived from beginning to end knowing there is a God in heaven that didn’t drop you, but picked you.
No matter the translation or the verse, it is my sacred honor to know God picked me to be your mom.
Happy 30th Birthday!
- Megan was not a Bible scholar. Pastor Les Beauchamp of Lifegate Church visited Megan on 3/05/2008 and gave her that verse to reflect on. Pastor Beauchamp did not know that Megan was almost dropped in delivery.
- My girl highlighted her bible 18 days before she died. Thank you Nancy and Joseph for pointing out that the number 18 stands for “Life.”
- Joseph Essaghian writes: 18 stands for life. Chai is how it’s pronounced. In Hebrew every letter has a numerical value. All words therefore have numerical values and the kabbalah is all based on the mathematics of the words. For example words that have the same numerical value share a significance with each other and so forth. The word for life which is Chai (Hebrew letter Chet is 8 and Hebrew letter yud is 10) is 18.
- The Message Bible, which was easy for Megan to understand, was a gift from her dear friend Julie, who now lives in Africa.
On A Lighter Note:
- I took Art History during the latter half of my pregnancy. A fellow student often passed me her sugar cookies under the desk. It is still a favorite recipe that I affectionately call “Art History Sugar Cookies.”
- Ryan brought me beautiful silver bangles from Mexico. (Note to Ryan: don’t forget to text your mom every day from India and let her know you are o.k.)
On a Personal Note:
- I just learned that Dr. Glenn Haswell stepped into eternity on Wednesday, June 30, 2010. His obituary states, “A faithful Christian, Glenn blessed the lives of all who knew him with his testimony of faith and strength.” In my hours of hard labor with Megan, he privately shared about the power of suffering and his faith in Jesus Christ. Dr. Haswell was well acquainted with suffering and was the recipient of two kidney transplants in his lifetime. He shares a commonality with Megan, who lost her left kidney to adrenal cancer. On January 27, 1981 Megan Bosselman fell not to a linoleum floor, but into the arms of love. Dr. Glenn Haswell was Megan Bosselman’s first contact into the human race. From the depth of my heart I believe that on June 30, 2010, my girl was there to meet him at the gates of eternity.