Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Lifetime's Not Too Long To Live As Friends

The title of my blog today is part of a song called Friends, written by Deborah D. Smith, music by Michael W. Smith.

Twenty-two years ago in August 1989, I lost a very dear childhood friend, Frances Hudson Lair.  She was only 35 years old, leaving behind a shocked 16-year old son, Brandon, and a devastated husband.  She died after a common surgery from something that rarely kills anyone anymore; a pulmonary embolism (or blood clot).  These days surgeons put things on your legs during and after surgery that puff in and out to keep your blood flowing to keep that very thing from happening.  I remember after Fran's funeral driving home with my children when this song that I had never heard before came on the radio.   I had to pull over to the side of the road because the words of the song hit me so hard that I just could not stop crying.  Friends are friends forever, if the Lord is the Lord of them... Though it's hard to let you go, in the Father's hands we know that a lifetime's not to long to live as friends

Here are the rest of the words to the song (below), in case you are interested.  I tried to read them out loud to Dwain a few minutes ago, and couldn't get through it.  After all these years I still choke up.  But the words are still poignant today to golden childhood friends who, to this day, live actively in my life; and the more recent ones who've been in my life for, oh. let's say the last 20/21 years.  Today I want to say (hopefully I won't get all choked up) a huge thank you to my friends Margie Keener and Anne (Todd) Miller.  Below the song you will see pictures of these friends and an accompanying story. 

Packing up the dreams God planted
In the fertile soil of you
Can't believe the hopes He's granted
Means a chapter in your life is through
But we'll keep you close as always
It won't even seem you've gone
'Cause our hearts in big and small ways
Will keep the love that keeps us strong

And friends are friends forever
If the Lord's the Lord of them
And a friend will not say never
'Cause the welcome will not end
Though it's hard to let you go
In the Father's hands we know
That a lifetime's not too long to live as friends.

With the faith and love God's given
Springing from the hope we know
We will pray the joy you'll live in
Is the strength that now you show

But we'll keep you close as always
It won't even seem you've gone
'Cause our hearts in big and small ways
Will keep the love that keeps us strong

About 10 o'clock this morning, Dwain and I walked straight to the outpatient surgery wing of the hospital.  The lady who pre-admitted me said that there would be no reason to come early because my surgeon had several patients ahead of me, so Dwain and I were not in any hurry to get there this morning.  However, on our way there, my cell phone rang, caller ID indicated it was the hospital.  "Is this Megan?" I said, yes.  "Are you on your way?"  Again, yes.  "Good, she said."  I could not imagine the rush, it was 20 minutes til 10.  Maybe a patient canceled.  Who knew?  

At the waiting room desk was a Pink Lady volunteer who was visiting with another lady -- our good friend Margie (the dentist's wife -- the one I've mentioned several times before in a previous blog entry)  She greeted us with a huge smile and a hug.  I was so surprised to realize the she too had someone in surgery that she was here for.  I came to sit with Dwain and keep him company.  And if you need me to come home with you after, I will, she said.  She offered after that to bring food and assorted other wonderful things.  All too overwhelming to take in.  I didn't even know she was aware I was having my chemo port surgically implanted today, let alone what time.  She stayed with Dwain the whole time I was in surgery then came back to see me after I woke up in recovery. 

Let me just say this about recovery after outpatient surgery, it's nothing but a bum's rush.  I mean, I was sound asleep, when they so rudely shook me awake.  Why can't they just let you sleep until you open your eyes?  I will say, they at least gave me a tiny plastic cup of apple juice. Guess they thought it would help wake me up.  When Margie and Dwain came in, and I guarantee my eyes had not been open 5 minutes, the nurses ushered Margie and me into a dressing room and hurriedly pulled my clothing out of  a bag.  Margie and another nurse helped me get them on in a proper sequence.  Bless you, Margie.  Not many people get to see such a frightful sight.  Gad!  You poor thing. Then Margie followed my wheelchair to the emergency room exit and helped me get into the car that Dwain had pulled around and thoughtfully warmed up.

 The picture's a bit blurred.  Like I said, we were getting the bum's rush.  They wanted everyone out of there early, before New Year's Eve (I guess).  That's Margie on the left. 

The lady on the far left wearing a red vest,  is Margie.  The one that looks loopy and drunk, that's me.  Margie is a living Friend, just like in the song

The picture below was taken in 2007 (by Dwain, always ready with a camera) of my childhood friend Anne Todd Miller (far left, in the red sweater) and her mother.  We've been dear, dear friends since 5th grade when her family moved here from another state -- Nashville, if I remember correctly.  But they had also lived in Dalhart, Texas.  Her father had been an Army minister (Episcopal) but had suffered a serious stroke.  Mr. Todd assisted in serving our town's local Episcopal church -- well, to tell the truth, her whole family was very involved.  My family, on the other hand was of another faith but since we lived within a few blocks of Anne's church, and we were such good friends, I got to visit her church often, and she visited mine.  We stayed fast friends and are to this day.  

Anne's mother, Virginia Todd, became ill with lung cancer when she was in her 90s.  Anne is a high school teacher in a town several hours away, but she took turns with her other brother and sister in helping care for her precious mother.  Anne has called me frequently since learning about my breast cancer, before my lumpectomy, before my mastectomy and after.  She even surprised me with a wonderful spa gift package that arrived in our mailbox the day after I returned home post mastectomy.  When she learned last night about my upcoming surgery today, she phoned.  We talked a long time -- a long, reassuring call, to be precise. 

 These are the SPA gifts Anne sent + a blue guardian angel that hung on our Christmas tree this year.  I love (and still am using) everything. 

I could not possibly do her justice by trying to repeat all the wonderful things she told me.  Thankfully, Anne, being the friend she is, just e-mailed me a list that I could reference it any time I wanted.  It is such a marvelous and positive list that I am just going to post it.  Anyone who is going through cancer should read this.  Thank you, Anne.  By the way,  Virgina Todd did die from lung cancer.  But she lived a long, long time -- surprising her doctors and stunning her oncologist, which is the same oncologist I have.  Anne and Margie have something else in common. They both say,  "He's the greatest, most knowledgeable doctor anywhere. We are lucky to have him.  You will absolutely love him"  

My trusted friends have spoken.   I shall now shut up.  

This is Anne's e-mail:
Hi you, two crazy kids!!!
  Here are some of the tips I gave Megan on the phone. I'm not an expert, but hopefully, some of these will help you.
1. Don't get hungry. Eat early, eat often! We made Mother eat small amounts every 2 hours during the day.
2. Fruit cups, canned fruit, pears, peaches, jello, applesauce, anything light that tastes good to you! (Don't worry about nutrition during chemo days, eat what tastes good to you. Eat healthy in the weeks between chemo treatments.)
3. Mother liked the fresh, frozen shrimp cocktail from Wal-Mart.
4. Drink plenty of fluids!
5. Keep water or juice by your bed at night. Sip small amounts frequently.
6. Get the prescription dry mouth spray (or whatever they have now).
7. Prevention is the key! Don't wait until you "feel" hungry or tired, because it will be too late, and you will have a meltdown for sure. Stay on schedule! Rest on schedule, eat on schedule, pray on schedule, etc. Then your body, mind, and spirit  will adjust and heal better. Hopefully, you will stay ahead of the nausea and fatigue. Remember from Lamaze, how they coached you to get on "top" of the pain. Pretend that you're pregnant, and treat your body as carefully as you did then. You are giving new life to yourself, this time. 
8. Pamper yourself, get your nails and hair done, rest a lot.
9. Listen to calm, soothing music. I think you can take music (headphones) to chemo, ask them. (They had headphones in surgery, when I had my C-sections! The music was very helpful).
10. Psalm 23, Psalm 91, Romans 8:28, I Corinthians 13, Guideposts, Upper Room.
11. Pray without ceasing. Your Methodist minister will bring communion to your house, if you want it. 
12. See if your church has a Stephen Ministry. They are trained lay people who will pray with you, and be completely confidential. 
13. "Fear not, but Believe!' Don't let fear rule your life, let Faith rule.
14. Praise and Thank God for everything. Praise and thanksgiving defeat fear, doubt, discouragement, disappointment, etc.
15. You, Dwain, Carolyn, and Chuck are in my prayers.
Happy New Year!!!

Love always,


Oh wait, I have to explain one more thing about the song, Friends.  My husband, Dwain was Frances's husband and she was Brandon's mother.  Fate threw us together after I suddenly became a widow.  

Dwain is not only my husband of 20 years, but he's my closest friend.  And Fran will always be near my heart.


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  2. What a lovely way to write, dear. I'm humbled at the blessings of being married to Fran, then you ... my two best friends ... always!