Wineskins Archive

January 13, 2014

A Tribute To Megan (Jan – Jun 1995)

Filed under: — @ 4:21 pm and

by Mike Cope
January – June, 1995

Megan Cope was born in Wilmington, North Carolina on August 26, 1984. Shortly after she was born, a hurricane with 110-mile-per-hour winds came through our coastal city. Later, we learned to appreciate this heavenly omen.

For Megan was a hurricane. Her gale-force winds blew so hard sometimes that they tested our structural soundness. But she was also a refreshing breeze who for 10 years blew the smog and pollution out of our lives.

One reason I needed to do Megan’s eulogy is that there are so few people who knew her from both her seven years in Arkansas and her three years in Texas. Those from Texas can’t really imagine that robust, muscular little girl who spent every waking hour (which was about 23 each day!) singing, marching, and clearing out every drawer and closet in the house. And those from Arkansas can’t picture very well the medically fragile little girl who went from hospital stay to hospital stay and who eventually was on oxygen 24 hours a day and was given all her liquids through a button in her stomach.

But despite this change, Diane, Matt, and I saw the same girl. This was the girl who created a whole new genre of literature called “Megan stories.” They’re the kind of stories that people who didn’t know her assumed were embellished. They were too unbelievable.

We remember Megan’s constant, frustrating attempts to talk. Actually, she talked all the time and knew exactly what she was saying. We just didn’t always know! Matt thought he had figured out when she was three or four that she was probably speaking Chinese and was actually precocious instead of slow.

When she got on a phrase, she’d stay with it. We went through the “SHEGAH” stage—which came with the related “SHECOME” and “SHEGO.” I can’t wait to get to heaven to have someone explain. We went through the “I’m mad” stage. And the stage when she continually uttered what sounded like an obscenity—which was her closest attempt to saying “Diane.” There were a few strange looks at church! And then here in Abilene, she settled for the simple “I’m Megan.” Most of us never really know who we are. Megan didn’t have that problem, did she?

Through it all, though, Megan’s language was singing. She loved to hear music videos. She enjoyed the “ABC’ song, “Jesus Loves Me,” and “The B-I-B-L-E.” But her favorite song never changed. It was always

I may never march in the infantry,
ride in the cavalry, shoot the artillery.
I may never fly o’er the enemy,
But I’m in the Lord’s army.
Yes Sir!

Megan never compiled much of a resume. There were not a lot of accomplishments to cram into an obituary. All she did was quietly change people’s lives. Within a couple hours of her death Monday, a fax came from Uganda, East Africa from some former Harding students. One of them wrote: “Medical people may have called her handicapped but looking deep into Megan’s beautiful eyes made us all wonder who the handicapped in this world really are. She was shortchanged in quantity of life but I hope that no one dares eulogize her as being shortchanged in quality of life. She had life and she had it abundantly…so abundantly in fact…that she left a little behind for each of us. She lives on in our hearts and deep in our souls.”

Our society tells a lot about itself by what it considers success. For example, w have classes for “gifted and talented” students. By that standard, Megan wasn’t very successful. She was, of course, mentally retarded. But what if our society considered joyfulness and forgiveness and kindness to be of greatest importance. Megan would have been valedictorian! She was the most forgiving, least bitter, most loving, least judgmental person I’ve ever known. Some may rejoice that in heaven Megan will be more like us. Maybe what happens in heaven is that we become more like Megan!

She didn’t worry about what others thought. We spend a lot of time and money on what clothes we wear. Megan was happy with anything that wasn’t too warm or too cold—even the ridiculous combinations that Daddy would put on her. If she saw something on her plate she didn’t want, she threw it on the floor. On the other hand, if she saw something she did want on someone else’s plate she reached over and took it. We learned to sit a long way away from everyone else at restaurants.

We learned to be simple around Megan—and quick. How many of you had your glasses stolen by Megan? I’ll always cherish the memory of one older woman at College Church who held her, smiled, and said, “You’re the most precious thing I’ve ever seen.” Megan smiled back like a mongoose smiles at the snake before striking. Then in a nanosecond, Megan had her glasses and tossed them across the room, still flashing her crooked smile. And how many of you learned not to wear earrings, necklaces, or anything else that could be grabbed when helping with Megan?

The Lord surrounded us with people who helped us raise and care for Megan. My guess is that all of you feel like you received much more than you ever gave. Perhaps you even wondered about what the Hebrews writer said: “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained strangers without knowing it.”

How could we express our love and gratitude enough to you? To all the friends and family who helped us—I can’t even begin. But we know it wasn’t easy. I’ll always remember the time my mom kept Megan a week, and during that time called one of her friends, offering her a hundred million dollars if she’d come take care of Megan for an hour.

A couple of things have to be said though. First, to her brothers. Matt, you were Megan’s hero. It didn’t matter how much we did for her, you were always her hero. She idolized you. You were a wonderful brother—even though at times Megan’s many, demanding needs meant less of our time for you. And Christopher, you’ll have to know your sister through pictures and videos—and even more through stories. Many worried about how Megan would be with you when you were born—since her love could at times be a bit rough. But with you her gentle spirit was always matched with gentle hands.

But Diane, while many loved Megan and cared for her—you gave her your life. While many have heard me preach, many more have been taught the gospel by your life. “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.” You are the strongest woman I’ve ever known. How did you give up so much sleep and still survive? How did you keep your sanity? How did you give Megan 20 hours a day—and still give so much love to Matt, Christopher, me, and so many friends?

Megan’s greatest desire has now come about. She is now marching in the Lord’s army. We have a deep hole of sadness to face because this sweet angel is gone. But we also have buried within us incredible joy because one who could never march in the infantry, ride in the cavalry, or shoot the artillery is now in the Lord’s army.

Please save a few spots in the ranks for us, Megie. Because your mother, your daddy, your brothers, and many others will always look forward to seeing you again.

This beautiful eulogy was delivered by Mike Cope at Megan’s funeral on November 23, 1994. Despite Mike’s reluctance, Rubel Shelly and Phillip Morrison insisted that the tribute be shared with Wineskins readers.

Mike Cope

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