Today is Friday the thirteenth in July of 2012. It’s ironic that we are flying to California on this day of superstition to celebrate the life of Mehgan Porter.
About 27 years ago, we had just moved into our first home in Moorpark California. Our oldest son was five and his next brother was three. I came home from work and was running past the kitchen and eating area to put my stuff down and sit down to dinner with the family. I noted in the corner of my eye a beautiful Polynesian girl sitting next to our oldest son. I slowly retraced my steps. “And who is this wonderful young lady joining us for dinner”? I asked. I learned that my five-year-old son had met Mehgan in kindergarten and invited her for dinner! Wow—I didn’t know five year olds did that.
Behind the scenes, Ryan had asked his Mom if he could do this. Ginger called the little girl’s mother, Mari, and this exchange began one of the greatest family friendships we have ever had.
Ryan’s younger brother Skyler, expresses so well how this little dinner led to my oldest son’s first kiss as he describes this to Meghan’s father:
“I’m not sure if you ever knew this, but the first kiss that Ryan ever had was with Mehgan. I know because I was there. We were in our backyard fort at our house on East Annette Street in Moorpark. I’m not sure if it was a dare or what, but I remember watching my brother and Mehgan as they slowly and awkwardly met their lips together for what had to be the shortest, most innocent kiss the world has ever known. After the kiss we went back to playing and having fun. However, I couldn’t help but wish that I had gotten a kiss, too. Then, before we left the fort (let’s be honest, it was probably a playhouse, but boys don’t hang out in playhouses, they hang out in forts) Mehgan gave me the tiniest kiss on the cheek. My face went red, my heart raced and I was in heaven. Little did I know that I would be a junior in high school before another girl would have the heart to give me another kiss. But, I’ll never forget that moment in the fort, when the beautiful Mehgan Porter gave this boy a kiss on the cheek.”
We learned recently that this wonderful, beautiful and precious soul would not have long to live after a protracted battle with cancer and passed on just a couple of days ago; it has made the normally joyous journey to Southern California a somber one; reflective and filled with gratitude for having knowing such an amazing young woman.
Mehgan was very accomplished for her age, a law school graduate, a wonderful writer (having written a play), was serving humanity in meaningful ways and was leading a most wonderful life. We have been deeply saddened to witness this early earthly exit. Life is not fair, but our faith teaches us it is right. Still, no one accepts tragedy to youth without the process of doubt.
This transition we call death works out in our minds much better if we are old. The time of separation seems less—it is the natural order of things. So with Mehgan, we are forced to deal with the painful separation longer—-even so, we all know we will eventually join her.
That innocent dinner and playhouse kiss led to eternal friendships. The moments in time are frozen now as we reflect, give gratitude, and prepare our hearts to move on with the courage Mehgan has taught us. Though sorely missed as it should well be, somehow I believe she is not far from us.
At Mehgan’s funeral, the family all spoke, sang, or prayed. I have never felt closer to heaven as I watched and felt the love of this family one to another. They have no doubt that the separation from each other through death is only temporary. Faith is such a beautiful thing. This Polynesian family put their flowered leis on the casket as songs of their heritage were beautifully sang—a hand or lips to the coffin bid a farewell—tender, no words could define the moment.
I share this sacred experience with the world not in a sense of sadness, but of loss. Perhaps we can learn a few lessons from this transition; one, to emphasize what matters most—secondly, to understand the purpose of life and the meaning it can have for all of us—and finally, to not allow the swiftness of life to overshadow the times we need to be still and absorb in ways that feel beyond the realm.
As we left, Ryan placed a kiss on the coffin……. Until we meet again.