I don’t remember the exact time that I met her. We were young. We were both at Trail Ride Family Camp. We probably played in the dirt together. But I do remember the summer we went to Lakewood Park Bible Camp together. That was the week we REALLY got to know each other.
A solid week in a cabin with her, me, 3 other girls (Nadine, Sarah, and Jenn) and a counselor.
Highlights from that week for me:
1) Maria was convinced that everyone should where eyeliner. I tried to tell her it looked terrible on me with my pale skin and light hair. She didn’t believe me until she put it on me. Then she said, “Yeah, I guess you’re right! It does look terrible.” We had a great laugh over that.
2) Maria tried out her hair cutting skills that week. Nadine let her cut her hair. I’m not sure it was Maria’s best work, but it was a good trial run for the future!
3) There were midnight runs in the rain to get Mt. Dew. This may have been the time where my Mt. Dew addiction started…hmmm.
4) I gained a new friend that week. One that I stayed in touch with until the end.
The next fall I saw Maria in Harvey at a football game. And she was HUGE…about to pop with that sweet boy she named Drew. I had no idea until I saw her that day and she was like, ‘So yeah…I’m pregnant.” I remember saying something to the affect of “Well obviously!”
Maria was the kind of friend who was honest as all get out. To the point of causing pain…but that was never the intention. She just wanted to be honest. This is one of the traits I most loved about her.
When we met at that football game we were able to pick up right where we left off. She was that kind of friend. We didn’t have to have long phone conversations or be pen pals or e-mail…we just were friends. Kindred spirits.
The next time we spent time together was the NEXT summer at Trail Ride Family Camp. She had that sweet baby with her in the camper. She was adjusting to being a mom…being a single mom. I remember thinking “How is she able to do this? It’s such a big job!” I was consumed by a boy at Trail Ride at the time so we spent time together, but to be honest, my head was someplace else. She told me I was stupid for being with that boy. He was no good…he couldn’t be trusted. I was blind. After the relationship with that boy ended…it was my friend Maria who said “I can’t believe you ever dated him! You are so much better than that.” Love that honesty and something I’ve carried with me forever…with friends, be honest, no matter the consequence.
After that we met up in Fargo…she worked at Target. I shopped at Target. We saw each other quite a bit just shopping. I always made a point to look for her if I was there. I loved our chats no matter how short or long they were.
One day I got a phone call from my sister…she had been at Target and the weirdest thing happened! She was in the check out line and this strange woman asked her if she was from Langdon. To which my sister hesitantly said she was. Then the strange woman asked if she was a McDougall. “Um…yes” was the response. “Are you Sueann’s sister?” said the stranger (Maria). My sister was shocked. She couldn’t figure out a) who this was b) if she should know her or c) how this strange woman figured it out just by a simple conversation. Maria told her that she knew I had a sister and that my sister sounded just like me so she figured it had to be my sister. I got a phone call from Maria later that day too…to tell the same story. So funny. It will always be something that makes me smile. About how she picked my sister out of the crowd…having never met her before.
In April 2006 I became a mom. After a few months of being a mom my mind went immediately to Maria. I remember thinking “How on earth did she do this by herself!?” I would have gone crazy without my hubby’s help. The next time I saw her at Target I stopped and said that very thing. She simply said “Drew was just a great baby. He’s a great kid. He makes it easy.” She was such a good mom. And man did she love that boy.
There are a scattering of times where we spent time together…but deep down she was just that kind of friend that it wasn’t the amount of time we spent together…but the quality of the time and the bond that we had.
I’ll never forget when I heard she was sick. I went up to the hospital to see her as quickly as I could. She was in good spirits and very clearly told me she had stage 4 cancer and that the type of cancer she had was not good. Most people that get it don’t make it. She told me that it was not something that a 20 something gets. It’s something that someone in their 40s or 50s gets. So she was determined that since she had 20 years on the average person that dies from this thing, she was going to beat it.
She had been planning a wedding up until then. I had never met Zach, until that day in the hospital. At that moment in time her focus changed from wedding to living.
She fought hard and valiantly. The Lord brought her to my mind so many times in the next 3 years and we chatted a lot about faith and family. I prayed for her every time she was brought to mind. We shared music and hopes and dreams. I got to witness the most beautiful wedding I have ever been to last September. I mean…stunning. So much love there that day.
And then one day I heard she was in the hospital again…on her birthday. Her 30th birthday. I was on a family vacation, but as soon as I got back I was at her bedside. We talked and laughed and talked and laughed for about 2 hours. It was so amazing. The nurses kept having to check her and felt bad for interrupting. They wanted to join in the fun.
I was honored to be able to be by her side several times through the coming weeks. I was honored to do what I could for her and her family. I don’t know where the extra time came from, but the Lord multiplied my time and my energy so I could do what was needed at that time. I loved that lady. I loved her beauty inside and out. I loved her sense of humor and her laugh. I loved her brutal honesty. I just loved her. There aren’t very many times where you get to have friend like that. Some people never have a friend like that.
I was blessed to know her. I was blessed to love her. If you knew her, you are too.
To my Maria – you are missed my dear. You will be missed. You will never be forgotten. And because you knew the Lord, I will see you again. Of this I am sure.
Much love…from me to you.
Your friend – always -
P.S. Dear Maria – I watched a movie last night. It was called “A Little Bit of Heaven”. It had Kate Hudson in it, who I love! I thought it would be a fun movie to watch. It made me think of you the whole entire time. The movie is about a young, beautiful, talented, and fun loving woman who finds out she has advanced colon cancer. She falls in love with her doctor. Her friends and family (her divorced parents that don’t really get along) are by her side. Her friends are there to make her laugh and enjoy the life that she has. She has a friend that doesn’t know how to deal with the sadness.
She struggles with how to say good bye and the ones that she will leave behind. She gets everything in order in the end and says good bye to everyone that she loves. She asked for her funeral to be a celebration of the life she had.
Does any of this sound familiar. I mean…good grief. I bawled. Dan watched the end with me and he cried! I think I’ve cried enough for a month now. You can laugh at me now. And shake your head. Say “Oh, Sueann”. I know I know…love ya lady. Me.