I met my love, my husband Michael, at St. Mike’s, but this is a story about the other love of my life, my best friend, Maggie (Harding) Vatter (SMC 1986).
Maggie and I officially met in 6th grade, but our friendship didn’t begin to grow until high school. We had the same circle of friends, and both played soccer and sang in the school chorus. Maggie was an “It Girl” even then – you couldn’t put your finger on it, but she possessed qualities that drew her to you. Whether it was her easy laugh, her self-deprecating humor, her ease at athletics, or her welcoming family, this was one girl you knew you wanted to hang out with.
In senior year, Maggie applied to St. Mike’s because she just knew it was the right fit for her – even without visiting the campus. Her family’s strong Catholic values were reflected in the school’s DNA. I had visited many colleges but was struggling to pick a one. At the last-minute, I had to choose between two schools and ultimately chose St. Michael’s because, I thought, if Maggie was there, at least I’d know a familiar face!
Even though we were friends, we really didn’t get to know each other until we attended college together. At first, it was our bond of being away from home and so homesick for our town and families. But the bond soon grew as we made mutual friends in the Ryan dorm and grew to know a world beyond our small home town. St. Michael’s gave us the room to grow at just the right pace. We could spread our wings, but didn’t have to go too far to do it. It was there that our friendship blossomed, and spread to the amazing people we met at college who have still stayed first and foremost in our lives. We all still ruminate about how those four short years created a bond that has lasted more than 30 years.
In May 2014 I was driving to work as Maggie told me about the test results I didn’t want to hear – she had Early Onset Alzheimer’s. We knew that something was wrong for quite a while but no one could figure out what it was. Alzheimer’s is a slow death, but it is still excruciatingly painful. Over the course of the next few years, Maggie eventually moved into an assisted living facility, but she still kept her love of St. Mike’s alive. We roommates visited her and recounted stories of nights at Finnegan’s, St. Patrick’s Day shenanigans, P-Day stories, and dinners at Saga. She, remarkably, remembered all of the good times.
Maggie died this September 28 but her memory and love still resonates with all of us who knew her and loved her. I am grateful for St. Michael’s for bringing us together and for giving me the chance to know her better. If you have a good friend, give them a call and tell them you love them. I hope that you will have them in your life forever.
– Allison Murphy ’86