Deb's Story

I knew my friendship with my Alpha Xi Delta Sisters was one I would treasure forever, but had no clue how important they were until two years ago. It has been 30 years since we left Defiance College. We promised to get together at least one time a year. While important family and work events may have derailed those events on occasion, we have stayed true to our promise to stay connected. Our friendships are much deeper than our yearly face-to-face visits as our children connected and were included in our events year after year. They too became friends. One of my sorority Sisters was my daughter Maggie’s godmother. Maggie was in her wedding as her flower girl. We loved watching them grow into strong women just like us! Maggie and her college friends made the same promise to stay connected as they witnessed our love and fun!

My daughter Maggie was an amazing young lady. I have met few people in my life who are as sweet inside as they are out. She was soft spoken and accepted everyone where they were in their life. When she looked you in your eyes she gave you her total self during that time. She was an advocate to those who had no voice. In fourth grade, Maggie was paired up with a student that was non-verbal. She would read to him daily, sit with him during lunch and included him in whatever she was doing. She took him to their middle school dances, sat with him during lunch and helped pair other students with special needs students to make sure no one ate lunch alone. Their relationship latest throughout high school and even when she went away to college.

Two years ago, my daughter Maggie was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. It was her senior year of college for nursing. She was set to start her clinical rotations and graduate. She had to move home to avoid the dorm environment while she received chemo. She couldn’t experience her last semester with her friends. It was a huge blow to her independence. She wanted nothing more in life than to be a nurse, a wife and a mom. She pushed through eight rounds of chemotherapy, hundreds of hospital clinical hours so she could graduate. She passed her NCLEX and become a R.N. and got her first job at the hospital she dreamed of working at and she married her high school sweetheart. Shortly after her wedding, we found out the chemo did not work and she lost her ability to have her own biological children. Two more series of chemotherapy, radiation and the hopes of a clinical trial consumed her next year of life. She fought until her last breath leaving her husband, her brother and her parents devastated. No mother should ever have to see her child leave this physical world. This was a time I should be planning my retirement, instead I am grieving the loss of a child, the memories of her becoming a mother and me a grandmother. How do you continue on living after such a loss?

This is where my Sisters shined. So many people would ask what they could do for me. Honestly, there is nothing anyone can do to change the events that happened. My sorority Sisters knew that what I needed was them. They rallied their efforts and made sure all were there for me. They opened their hearts and homes whenever needed. They would send cards, gifts, and texts it seemed whenever I needed them the most. I knew I could call them at any time, any hour of the day to talk or cry. They were just there to listen. This year, we decided to all go to our college homecoming. We had fourteen of us staying in one house again (just like old times). We laughed and cried as we looked back at the last thirty years. It’s amazing that after 30 years, they are still the individuals who love you unconditionally, see the good in every situation and can help you through even what seems like the worst of times. Your life may not always turn out the way you planned, but one thing will stay consistent – your Sisterly love.

- Submitted by Deb McLaughlin Page, Defiance '81

Photo above: Debra and her daughter, Maggie, on Maggie's wedding day.