I buzzed through the nursing station grabbing my patient’s chart. It was an “all hands on deck” kind of night in the birthing center. Each nurse’s plate full and running over. Maggie (the masked nurse standing beside me in the picture) was our lactation consultant, but when we were this busy she threw on labor scrubs and hit the ground running with us. They had just sent a Hispanic lady up from hospital registration. Maggie had changed into her scrubs just in time to help the lady occupy our last labor bed. But none of us had time to help Maggie get this panting woman into the bed and admitted. We were all dealing with our own little bowl of chaos. Maggie was fluent in Spanish, the words rolled off her tongue like water out of a fountain as she wheeled the woman into her room. Nurse Mags shut the door behind her and I kept on trucking down the hall towards my own patient’s room. As soon as I got all the way down the hall, I realized I had left my patient’s chart back at the desk. Maggie and her joyful Spanish had mesmerized me right into forgetfulness. I turned around and just as I was about to grab the chart the call bell rang. Usually there was someone else to answer the bell in our 9 bed birthing center but tonight everyone was tending to the chaos that had just swung through our delivery rooms. The contributor? Probably a full moon or a snow storm. I saw Maggie’s room light up with the ring and I grabbed the call bell “May I help you?” and Maggie replied “we have a baby.”, I could hear the newborn wailing in the background. My thoughts raced as I ran to the room, “Good golly it had only been 4 minutes” and I swung the door open. Maggie was standing over a new momma and her naked infant laughing and rattling off more Spanish. “T, I couldn’t even get my other glove on. Will you hand me another and call charge?” The check box girl in me was trying not to panic, the lady didn’t have an IV, she hadn’t been cleaned, we didn’t have a warmer set up, nothing had been ready. Yet Maggie was calm and I ran in circles. Our personalities came full circle even in the midst of unexpected newborn deliveries. I the check box gal and her the ‘let’s just live in the moment’ spectator. Put us together in a delivery and we were a perfect team. Together our different set of eyes somehow made things run smooth. Our mothering styles were the same in these indifferences, she helped me slow down and smell the roses while I gave her pointers on staying organized and navigating the schedule of mothering a brood of more than one. And this is how I knew we would be lifelong friends, we spent time together at work, sneaking off for lunch breaks together and still calling each other for play dates on our day off. We didn’t compete, compare, or get caught up in envy. She embraced me just like I was, and rejoiced when good came in my life. I was hopeful I was doing the same for her. Her influence was strengthening my faith, growing me in compassionate nursing care across ethnicities, and encouraging me in the mundane of motherhood. We were besties.
But I want to give you a little background to the story. You see, we set beside each other at high school graduation, signed each other’s yearbook, and were acquainted as friends but didn’t really ‘hang out’ during our high school years. After high school and nursing school she married and moved to Alabama, we were facebook friends, but all I really knew was that she had struggled with infertility, and was now a momma to a sweet baby boy Henry. In 2009, right before Max was born she moved back to our hometown, and needed a nursing job. She was an experienced mother/ baby nurse and I just happened to work in our hometown birthing center. You could say the rest was history.
Now 6 years after working our first shift together we were back in the same nurses station where it all started. From early spring up until the move to Wallace we were working at least one night shift together a week. She was getting every detail of what Ronnie and I were praying through. She listened with two ears and I could trust her. Her days were like mine, very little social life and thriving days as a short order cook to tiny humans running under her feet. She had no one to tell, she knew my heart, she never passed judgement, but also made sure to ask me the hard questions of keeping her sister accountable to a life built on faith. She was pregnant with her third and due the end of July. I had the privilege of standing beside her through her labor with her second born Libby Jean and we were now anticipating another delivery together.
Before her Libby Jean was born we had signed up to teach VBS together. So two weeks before her due date we were memorizing 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Somehow we had managed a week with fifth and sixth graders and it had not thrown her into labor. Praise. Two weeks later though, and it was time. I met her at the hospital and it was a slow start but eventually she crossed over into transition. Watching my dear friend labor unmedicated flooded my mind with the feelings I had of my own impending delivery. God had used each birth I had experienced with my own children to cultivate true compassion for the feelings of a woman in labor. I refocused as her daughter was crowning and fear took over Maggie’s complete being. Seeing my friend in fear, I immediately saw the room in vacation bible school where we had stood teaching the children to recite the verse. Maggie on one side of the white marker board and I on the other repeating it together in front of the children, “For God hath not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” I leaned down and without even taking another second, the verse whispered gently right out of my mouth, close enough to her ear so that only her, I, and her husband Todd had heard what I said. God’s truth, sharper than a two edge sword, had prevailed again and Maggie regained her strength. It only took one more push after that and Maggie reached down with her own hands and pulled her beautiful Libby Jean right up to her chest. Perfection straight from heaven. Six months later we visited over coffee and babies. She handed me one of the most beautiful gifts I have ever received. A necklace with the tree of life as a jewel and a silver plate encrypted with “2 Timothy 1:7”. A reminder of God using the vacation bible school verse not just for students but as a bond between his two daughters, a lifelong friendship between two sisters, and a promise that when we have His spirit, we have His power.
A very dark (haha) photo of Me, Maggie, and Libby Jean on the night of her birth.
Libby Jean was now two years old and Maggie was tipping 9 months pregnant again.
On the way back home from Wallace after Ronnie had been offered the job I sent her a text. “Keep praying. I think we are set on a decision. I will fill you in soon.” She didn’t ask questions or probe. “I’m praying friend. Love you.”
A week later we were setting up for the yard sale, I sat indian style in the middle of our now upside down living room. Ronnie brought our box of yearbooks up and set them beside me. “Where do you want these?” I looked up and replied. “Right here.” I was now understanding why moving takes so long. You not only move, you cry over ten years of memories that were lived in walls of your
heart home. I opened my senior yearbook to the front page and Maggie’s writing hit me square in the heart.
“Tarren, Yeah we made it! I’m so excited and I’m so glad I get to sit beside you at graduation. You are such a sweet girl. It’s so nice to know there are other Christian girls. I look up to you so much. Your work in nursing really inspires me. I love your whole family. Keep your eyes on Jesus. You’re going to do something awesome. Maggie F. Jeremiah 29:11.”
My hand fell over her writing and my heart skipped several beats. God had used a girl I barely knew at 18, set us beside each other graduation (Fishel, Furches) and started to blossom a friendship. Memories flooded of our first shift together, the night she introduced me to spaghetti squash, our first time in the OR together. I remembered when she had just moved back to Ashe County and brought me a southern casserole after having Max. How we gathered around my tiny kitchen table and broke bread together celebrating the fact that our boys would now grow up in the mountains just 5 miles from each other. I still remember the day she sent me a positive pregnancy test from a local park bathroom after what had seemed a lifetime of infertility. Oh and then there was the day our boys painted a pumpkin box together, and the day we decided that homemade glitter jars might help our boys learn how to think about their decisions. E for Effort on the momma ideas but the glitter didn’t win the boys over. Go figure. And these memories didn’t even touch the surface of what God had done between two mommas. Throw two friends into a nursing career together and bonds will never die. We labored women together, stood on each side of a woman when she was told that the only way to get the baby out was surgery, she taught me ‘labor and delivery Spanish’, we shared work food, work parties, baby showers, and navigated the balance of nurse shifts and mundane momma days.
We were becoming sisters and our kids were becoming as close as cousins. Fighting one minute and falling asleep in carseats together the next.
The next day our big moving sale had begun. She stopped by, sweet baby belly and all. Remember, pregnant with her third. (This is a hard post to follow I know. Stay with me.) I updated her on all that unfolded and we were both thankful we had just at least one more shift together. The next week we worked our last night together. At the end of a night shift filled with friendship memories and tears we sat in the parking lot of the hospital in the minivan. We knew it was our last twelve hours together, at least for a while. We hugged and she said “Tarren, please help me pray this baby comes before you leave.” I promised her I would pray and I had peace that I wouldn’t have to tell her goodbye without a baby in her arms. I had a pretty good feeling that my lips would smooch her baby on the cheeks before my hubby drove me across the state with a UHAUL in tow. “Please God.” as I hugged her and hopped back in my van to drive home.
I drove off the hospital parking lot asking God how I would move on in my career without Maggie by my side. We didn’t spend every shift together, but there was something about seeing both our names on the birthing center schedule. We could at least aim for a shift together once a month. I knew full well my nursing shifts wouldn’t be the same without her. But I also knew that God had showed up in everything, and he wasn’t only going to show up in our last week together. He was going to show off.
It was Friday afternoon and Ronnie had just returned from moving the first load to Wallace. We now were sleeping on air mattresses for our last 5 days in our home. I would work my last shift Tuesday, and we would drive to Wallace early Wednesday morning.
“T, I think I’m in labor.” the text came across my phone in the middle of an afternoon of summer chaos. Thankfully, Ronnie had made it home in the knick of time and could take over with the kids right away. Something else I had been praying for. God’s perfect timing. And it was perfect. I got my things together and took myself all the way to Boone in a quiet minivan.
Maggie was beaming and still laughing when I arrived but it didn’t take long for her to move right into transition. She danced through contractions leaning on her husband Todd. I had even become fond of him over our years of friendship (don’t tell him that 😉 ) and I loved seeing what God had built in their marriage.
She moved herself to the birthing ball, back to the bed. Her body was telling her just what to do and I almost felt useless. She was a pro at natural labor. So I just lifted my hands in praise that God had made a way for me to be there, and tried to stay back as Todd and Maggie danced their baby into the world. I do remember the lights dimming and Maggie turning to face the back of the bed. I had ended up on her right side. She moaned another labor pain away and I knew I only had a quick minute to pray before the next contraction rolled in. We all knew the labor was coming to a close and we would see their miracle soon. I placed my hand on my friend’s back and said a quick prayer of thanksgiving and praise for all that God was doing in ways than we couldn’t even see, and as I closed with a quiet amen Maggie took another deep breath for one of her last contractions. Sarah Lane was born just a smidge or a smudge after midnight on July 25, 2015 (four days before our move), wailing to let us know she was present. What a gift to be there with my best friend. I stepped out of the way as everyone wept in praise and more thankfulness. Healthy momma, wailing baby. All was well.
Maggie and her family settled. It was time to go. She hugged me and told me to come hold Sarah Lane one last time before we moved. I agreed but I knew. I knew this was our last day together. This would be our last delivery together. I knew that I couldn’t tell her goodbye and that agreeing to see her soon was the
best only way I could walk away.
I walked back to my minivan and hopped in for my 45 minute drive back home. It was dark, no one on the road, and a perfect night to thank God for giving me peace once again.
People had told me all my life that God would not just show up in my life, but that He would show off. I now knew what they were talking about. My best friend was also my favorite companion in bringing babies into the world. How do I tell that friend goodbye? How do I start over at a new hospital without her? How does God give me peace in leaving everything behind, even the best of friends? How do you know that he is present in your friendship?
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7
He had just made my last delivery with my favorite nurse HER DELIVERY!! We had done so many deliveries together. And now, maybe the last one we do together on this side of heaven was hers!!! My heart and eyeballs wept all the way home. Michael W. Smith’s song “Friends” replayed over and over in my head. And the peace that only the Lord can give ran through my heart. His peace transcending more than I could understand. Friendships like this can’t be lost in a move across the state, especially when sealed through a midnight delivery.
I recently visited the mountains and carved out time to go see my bestie in her little white farmhouse. God blessed her family with a baby boy in July (#4) and I couldn’t take another second without cuddling my new nephew 😉 . I walked in Maggie’s kitchen and immediately felt the comfort of home. Her friendship a home for my own soul. Her table covered in baby crumbs, her living room full of sleeping baby dolls, and all her pictures on the wall just like they were the last time I was there. Maggie the same too. Happy and thankful for a home overflowing with babies even if the furniture was secondhand and fingerprinted by multiple preschoolers. The girls ran off to play, she passed me her baby boy and we sat and talked like 2 years had not passed.
We hugged goodbye again but this time I knew better. Nothing could separate a friendship that God had built. And even if our nursing shifts are no longer filled with lunch breaks together, I know our days in heaven will be. <3