I have been stalling writing this, because I don't even know where to start. I recently received the tragic news that one of my best college friends, Megan Fields Brinner, recently passed away. I cannot possibly fathom putting words on paper that will do justice to our friendship, or Megan as a person, who was as beautiful on the inside as out. She was once like a sister to me. We both transferred to Miami University our sophomore year in the fall of 1995. During the summer before, my high school (STL) friend told me that her college friend (SMU) had a close high school (Columbus) friend who was also transferring to Miami. In a crazy serendipitous way, she ended up living RIGHT across the hall from me in our dorm! We clicked immediately and bonded over transferring from different colleges, learning the new campus layout of beautiful Oxford, OH, taking fun workout classes at the rec center, the infamous Bagel & Deli, and just your typical college shenanigans. While she was majoring in education, I was studying accounting. So, although we didn't overlap in classes, we would walk to the library and study, etc. We worked hard and played hard. We shared so many fun memories.
Post graduation, we kept in touch and crossed paths, both moving to common cities (at various times) including Cincinnati, Chicago, St. Louis, Boston, Atlanta, and even lived in Charlotte at the same time in 2005. Our bonding over Miami campus life gave way to bonding over new life stages and chapters: starting new careers, getting married, and having babies. We exchanged stories and support over moving cities, volunteering, wedding planning, morning sickness, infant car seats, prenatal exercise classes, baby names, favorite sushi restaurants, you name it.
Most importantly, Megan was full of life and love. She was smart, funny, and as beautiful on the inside as out. If you met her even for one day, you would love her, I promise. All of my friends from St. Louis or Chicago adored her when she would come visit. She was kind, caring, sincere, and compassionate to everyone from the cashier at the grocery store to children in Mexico, to the cab drivers in Chicago. She had an authentic soul that just made you feel as if you knew her forever, even if you had just met her that day. Anyone and everyone would become her friend because she extended kindness, compassion, and her beautiful smile, and it would come right back to her. She loved her job as a teacher and loved children. She wanted to give back the wonderful education and blessings she received to those who followed. She brought loving care and joy to everyone around her. Her megawatt smile shone brightly whenever she walked into a room.
Sadly, a few years ago I learned that Megan struggled with addiction. She was in and out of rehab and as much as we (family and friends) tried our best to support her, somehow it was not enough. I have learned that when people go through rehab, the bonds they make with those going through a similar experience are understandably powerful. They often begin a new life in a new community, surrounded by these new friends. Certainly, it can be very difficult for someone to continue to connect with their old friends because they are trying to start a new life in such a different way. She slowly distanced herself, and I was just sad that I could not offer support anymore, and for the distancing of our friendship. I wrote her letters wanting her to know what a wonderful person and friend she was, and that she had so much to give to this world - her family, friends, and students. I tried my best to be supportive in any way that I could, but while in the midst of having two babies in 17 months, it was very difficult to do enough (to travel enough to see her, for example). Throughout the following years, I contacted her Mom here and there to see how she was doing.
Years passed and then a phone call from her Mom last week stopped me in my tracks. She informed me Megan passed away in Tampa the week before. I was somewhat comforted to learn that the hospice center took very good care of her during her last week of life. This was not surprising, as I am sure she made friends with everyone around her, from the nurses to the janitors to the doctors.
One of the worst aspects of this addiction disease is that it not only affects a person physically, but it has the potential to steal away their community and support system. I cannot help but think that if she had had any other disease (i.e. cancer), her recovery could have potentially been so different. Her family and friends would have rallied around her, delivering meals, cleaning her house, running errands, caring for her children. But, with addiction, there seems to be so much shame and stigma, that the victim often isolates themselves from the very support network they need most for recovery. I wish I had answers. I wish things could have turned out differently.
On another note, I am so happy to hear that her two boys, Parker and Pierce are doing well and in a loving family with their father, Scott and his wife, Michelle. I know Megan is smiling down on them every day, and I know she would be happy to know they are loved dearly.
I collected as many photos as I could of Megan over the years (see below). I will forever be thankful for the memories we shared, and I am blessed to have had such a wonderful friend throughout so many exciting chapters of our lives.
Rest in peace, Megan. You will forever be loved and missed.
Mrs. Fields shared the following information, as she said the Hospice center did such an amazing job of taking care of Megan. They welcome any donations in Megan's honor as follows:
Donations can be mailed to LifePath Hospice/ Chapters Healthcare at 12470 Telecom Drive, Suite 300, Temple Terrace, FL 33637. All you have to do is put her name and funds for Sun City Center Hospice House. You are welcome also to contact the main office at 813-877-2200 with any questions.
THE EARLY YEARS - MIAMI '95/'96 - SOPH YEAR, SPRING BREAK TO ST. MAARTEN, ST. THOMAS, SAN JUAN
MIAMI UNIVERSITY - JUNIOR/SENIOR YEAR 1996-1998
SENIOR SPRINK BREAK 1998, PUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICO
POST-GRADUATION - CHICAGO, CHARLOTTE, NAPLES, OZARKS
WEDDINGS, SHOWERS, REHEARSAL DINNERS - EARLY 2000's
BABY SHOWERS AND BABIES - CHARLOTTE & ATLANTA 2006/2007