In early 2019, I attended the funeral of a dear friend’s mother. Her name was Meg Ferguson. Margaret “Meg” Ann Orchard-Hays Ferguson, to be exact.
I didn’t know Meg really well. Actually, I take that back… After attending the service and hearing people speak about her, I feel like I knew her very well. Only through a secondary source – her daughter and one of my most magical friends, Amanda.
Meg’s brother, Jamie, gave a portion of Meg’s eulogy. He spoke about memories of their childhood and how they grew apart during their teenage and young adult years. I was surprised (but kind of delighted) to hear Meg, a woman I knew as a fierce prayer warrior and advocate for Jesus Christ, actually had a pretty monumental rebellious phase. I would’ve never guessed from the Meg I knew, but (truth be told) it actually made me love her even more.
During the service, Meg’s close friends and fellow prayer warriors told everyone about her unwavering faith in the Lord and steadfastness to prayer for things big and small.
For example, one friend told a story about losing one of her favorite and personally symbolic butterfly earrings. The friend was devastated as Meg tried to help her feel better. Seeing her friend’s sadness, Meg immediately turned to prayer. For an earring! Meg was confident the Lord would help, and help he did. Meg closed the prayer, the friends parted, and, a very short time later, Meg, herself, found that earring!
Meg, of course, prayed for lots of larger global needs, too – illness, turmoil, war, birth, death, peace, sadness… She spent hours and hours in prayer. However, she always acknowledged, like any good Christian, in my opinion, that she was not perfect. She was an imperfect human, and she knew that; however it was certainly hard to find many imperfections in this woman.
Like I said, I knew Meg most through her daughter, Amanda, who has been one of my most special friends since we met in a theater group over 10 years ago.
Just like her mother, Amanda is multi-talented. She sings, dances, plays guitar, acts, directs, and is, sincerely, one of the most sweetest, inspiring, and magical souls I’ve ever met. (I’m sure Meg’s close friends say the same about her. That apple certainly doesn’t fall far from the tree.)
At Meg’s Celebration of Life service, Amanda, sang a song for her mother. In that moment, watching her, I couldn’t help but be overtaken by my love and pride for my friend. I love her because of her strength, her positive outlook on life, her faith, her dreams, her courage….. All of which, undoubtedly, stemmed from her equally-amazing mother.
Watching Amanda sing that day, I realized what an opportunity I had missed by not getting to know her mother better. I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t realize just how special Meg was until I started hearing her friends and family recount the many magical instances she created for them.
The Band Perry sings a song called “If I Die Young,” which at 54, Meg did. One of the lyrics says “A penny for my thoughts. Oh, no. I sell ’em for a dollar. They’re worth so much more after I’m a goner.” It’s sad to say, but that’s the case for a lot of people. That rings so true with my feelings towards Meg. I so wish I’d known her better. It seems if I thought her daughter was a treasure, I would truly be blown away by Meg’s powerful spirit. Looking at her picture, that spirit is easy to see in her bright eyes and shining smile.
Throughout the entire service, the friends and family that stood to participate in Meg’s eulogy continuously said Meg wasn’t scared to die. Instead, what she was most scared of was leaving her family and not being able to continue prayers for people who needed it. She also wanted her battle with cancer, which ultimately forced her departure from this world, to be an inspiration for others.
Can you believe this woman?! In the time leading up to her death, she didn’t care about herself, only others. Her fear was not in dying but rather in not being able to serve the Lord on earth and to help others to His love.
From my perspective, and I’m sure humble Meg would argue this, nothing this woman ever did was selfish. It was all for the Lord, her family, her friends, and her community. Meg was worried more about leaving the people she wanted to help more than she was worried about dying. She wanted so much to be an inspiration to people, and it seems to me, a big part of her thought she wasn’t. (As I’m writing this, I’m pausing and shaking my head in disbelief that Meg could think such a thing.)
Well Meg, I was inspired by you. Indirectly, but still inspired by something you created and one of the marks you left on the world – your daughter, Amanda. You never have to worry about continuing to inspire people because those you left behind will carry on your spirit. Your loving, inspirational, magical spirit.
Amanda, as well as her four siblings, are the enchanting seeds you planted in this world. They are all different in their own little ways, but as I looked at them and heard their stories during your service, I realized they each represent their mother in their own special way – faith, dreams, rebellion, creativity, love, motherhood, and more.
I will remember Meg as the loving mother and prayer warrior I knew her as. I didn’t know her sense of humor, rebellious side, or creativity, but I have a feeling I don’t have to look hard to find that in Amanda. (Though, I think Amanda will agree, she has less of a rebellious side than her mother.)
What Meg taught me, among other things, is to find the magic in people NOW. I missed such an opportunity to know this lady better. She was certainly someone special, but she was still an “everyday person.” A sparkling gem hidden in plain site. A diamond in the rough. Like so many of our neighbors and community members are.
Why wait until people are gone to realize the magnitude of their story and their lives? Learn them NOW!
Newspapers publish obituaries, right? So you can learn about a person after they’ve gone.
Why don’t we learn about people while they’re still here instead of sitting at their funeral and responding “I didn’t know she sang!” or “I had no idea she liked to paint! I wish I would’ve known! We would’ve had fun together!”
Coulda… Shoulda… Woulda… Right?
We need to recognize people around us as more than just people, but instead, an opportunity.
An opportunity to learn, grow, and be inspired.
An opportunity to witness magic right in front of our eyes, and an opportunity to see the magic in people before they’re gone.
Thank you, Meg, for your inspiration, love, kindness, fierceness, and magic. You don’t have to worry about making a difference with me or anyone else because you’ve already done it.
Truly, you will forever be a part of our hearts and continue to inspire us for many, many years to come. Enjoy your mansion in heaven, sweet lady. You certainly deserve it.
Now… Let’s get to know each other a little better before the opportunity is gone. Shall we?