On this day 8 years ago, I was preparing to say goodbye to a dear friend.
You see, a few days before this day my best friend’s (Amy’s) husband died during an MS150 training ride. That day is engraved in my mind. I remember everything about it. The call from my then husband who was also on the ride, the sound of his voice that told me something was terribly wrong, the call I made to Amy’s Mom because I couldn’t reach Amy on the phone, how frantic I felt, the moment I walked into the hospital, the smells there, the tears, the group of church members there already praying, the look in Amy’s eyes when I saw her. In fact, everything about that day seems like it happened yesterday.
So on this day 8 years ago I was at the Katy Family YMCA, gathered with literally hundreds of others, to say goodbye to a man who loved his family, his church family and everyone he met. We were there to celebrate his life. Before the first song sang my water broke. Yep… I was pregnant and my due date was Jan. 25th. I couldn’t believe it… I remember thinking, “God, please let me be able to stay and celebrate my friend’s life, support my best friend in her darkest hour and not take away from this day.” So I sat down next to Judy, a good friend who took it upon herself to make sure I was OK (don’t you just love friends like that?) As others stood to sing praises to the One who “gives and takes away” I sat in my chair…. wet. No one could tell and I greeted everyone as if nothing had happened. (That’s probably the stubborn side of me. I didn’t want anyone telling me that I had to go to the hospital.) I was NOT missing it… no matter what. The service was beautiful. Amy spoke at the service, something I knew God gave her the strength to do. She was graceful, strong, and obviously filled with God’s peace. It was beautiful to see and I was thankful to be there.
During the closing prayer, I ran out to the bathroom. Judy, along with a few other friends, came to see what was going on and I told them that my water broke. They were so sweet to take my pants and hold them under the dryer so I wouldn’t be soaking wet going to the hospital. Judy told my husband and a few minutes later we were rushing over to Christus St Catherine’s Hospital.
Before I gave birth to our second child, I asked my husband if he minded if we named our new baby after our friend (we had not chosen a boy name as we couldn’t settle on one). We both agreed that question needed to be asked to Amy, so when she came to the hospital I asked. As we all cried and hugged, she gave us her blessing to name our baby Kenneth, after her husband, if we had a boy.
And in God’s great way… we had a boy and named him Kenneth Wayne Ochsner.
Today Kenneth is 8. I could not have known what a blessing he would be to our family. And what a tremendous honor it would be for one of my children to carry the name of my best friend’s late husband, Kenneth Wagoner.
So today, I celebrate my son’s birthday and remember Ken Wagoner’s legacy of faith he left for his family and others. He continues to live in those who knew and loved him. And I am honored to be counted as one of those.