Meghan died. Meghan died?! Meghan…died.
The words have been cycling in my head on a loop since I heard the news barely a month ago, and still, they haven’t quite taken root. How can she have died, at just 25? And so suddenly, of a disease she’d survived before?
Landing at JFK, I’d switched my phone off of airplane mode and was scrolling through Instagram as I waited for the taxying plane to find a resting place. And there it was, among days-old Halloween photos and baby videos and engagement announcements: the news that Meghan had died of malaria.
Meghan Liddy and I met in 2013—bright-eyed short-term missionaries bound for Uganda for a semester. Our friendship grew quickly in the intensity of our experiences—that time we accidentally made a spontaneous 8-hour road trip to Kampala to sort out a visa issue and felt like we had won the Survivor reward challenge; the first time we tried to teach subjects we were woefully unknowledgeable about to a roomful of high school boys; the MANY times she’d scream at an impossible decibel upon seeing the nefarious house rat; the first time we tried matoke and realized it was one of the worst things that man has ever created.
But our real bonding came in the days we spent recovering from malaria together. After we’d gotten through the haziest, vomit-filled days, we spent hours lying in the living room debriefing our experiences with malaria and Uganda and how our lives were changed.
Malaria was a joke to us. It was an unfortunate happening that could be twisted into a joke in hindsight. Malaria was a misery that flattened us for a moment, but it wasn’t a true threat. How could our teenage eyes foresee that malaria would take Meghan’s life, all these years later.
Meghan’s laugh surpassed mine in both volume and contagiousness. Her hugs had a healing quality, I’m sure of it. She was quick to listen, to serve, and pray. Her life was devoted to others—to inclusion, to protection of the vulnerable, to sharing a hearty laugh with anyone she’d meet.
Meghan, it was a gift to know you, and it is a gift to be one of the many who grieves your loss.
If you'd like to would like to support Meghan’s family in finding ongoing care for her daughters, you can give to the Meghan Liddy Memorial Fund here.