by COSMY PELLIS
Meaghan McIntyre, beloved UMW alumna and former editor of the newspaper, tragically passed away this November. She had a light to her that was rare, inspiring everyone around her to be the best version of themselves, or at least to be a little bit kinder for knowing her.
I had the honor of knowing Meaghan during my sophomore year and her senior year at UMW when we worked on the staff of the newspaper together. I felt like I had no idea what I was doing when I first took the life editor position, but she made me feel welcome and helped to answer questions when I was unsure. Her bubbly, inclusive nature made me feel at home in a position that quite honestly terrified me.
Whenever we saw each other on campus, she always stopped to compliment me and ask how my day was going, which gave me a confidence boost that was often so needed. Meaghan once gave me a letter wishing me luck on my dance performance, and the content of the letter was so heartfelt even though we hadn’t even known each other for very long. That was the type of person she was; the kind who remembers the important parts of your life and thinks hard about how she can best support you.
Meaghan did so much for the newspaper. As UMW alumna and former editor Grace Winfield recalled, “she quite literally coded the website and constantly worked one-on-one with editors. She’d take time out of her own schedule to sit down and go through their articles. She held several different positions at the paper and spent every Wednesday night in layout, sometimes we’d be there till three in the morning.” Meaghan was actually the reason that Grace got involved with the newspaper.
Grace and Meaghan were close friends, co-editors of the newspaper, softball teammates and fellow communications majors.
“Meaghan had this natural authenticity that made it impossible not to respect and love her, and even better: she respected and loved you back,” Grace wrote in a memorial post on her Instagram. “I was with her 6 of the 7 days of the week for four years of our young life. We motivated each other … we quite literally manically cried together after alternating naps and study sessions all throughout the night … but we also laughed and smiled together. All of the time.”
She continued, “Meaghan loved chicken quesadillas, excessive amounts of expresso, hugs, dogs, writing, playing softball, anime memes and helping people with nothing in return. You meet someone like Meaghan and you think to yourself, now THAT is someone who is going places. Because Meaghan could do anything, ANYTHING she set her mind to. She knew that other people could, too, and she ignited the fire in people that they needed in order to see and seek their true potential. She did that for me … I witnessed with my own eyes her impact on others, too. Many others.”
My fellow associate editor, Bernadette D’Auria, was one of those people who were inspired by Meaghan.
“She was extremely intelligent,” she said. “When she approached me to work with her in class I remember thinking how lucky I was to have someone with such a strong work ethic and immense amount of intelligence willing to work with me. However, Meaghan was so much more than a great student. She was funny and caring and extremely passionate about everything she threw herself into.”
Meaghan was a major motivator behind Bernadette’s involvement with the newspaper.
“I met Meaghan my freshman year in my Globalization in Literature class and when I told her I was signing up for Practicum [Journalism], she was so excited for me,” she said. “When I expressed interest in becoming an editor towards the end of my sophomore year, she took the initiative to text me and encourage me to try for the online editor position. Without her input and motivation, I would not be where I am today on our campus paper.”
Bernadette also reflected on Meaghan’s impressive involvement on campus.
“She told me about how she worked as an editor, worked for the DKC and was on the club softball team. I remember being astounded by the sheer amount of things she did while also maintaining a good standing in her classes. She told me that while it was stressful, she really enjoyed everything that she did.”
Esther Hethcox, a UMW alumna and former editor, spoke of her memories with Meaghan as well.
“As the online editor, I would often be one of the last to leave, waiting for the final drafts of each article,” she said. “As our editor-in-chief would proof the last articles, Meaghan would always stay with me to chat and keep me company until I had finished. She knew I hated staying up late, and her joy-filled, caffeinated spirit would inspire me even when I fell captive to the grumpiness of being tired.”
Esther also commented on small interactions with Meaghan that really show how thoughtful she was, saying that her best memory of her is “a series of conversations.”
“I was always surprised that we stayed in touch after graduation because I am a terrible communicator,” she said. “But we did. We texted, we responded to each other on social media, we prayed for each other, we Venmo-ed each other money for treats and supported each other from hundreds of miles away. I think it’s a collective memory which is my favorite memory of Meaghan—all the little moments of friendship, woven together through texts and prayers, that crafted a beautiful tapestry of love.”
After attending Meaghan’s memorial, which took place on Zoom, Esther said, “200 people attended, which was such a testament to how many people she loved—and how my experience with Meaghan is not an isolated experience. All of us had moments and memories where she went over and beyond what it means to be a friend—she surpassed all our wildest dreams of experiencing true love from someone else.”
Another strong testament to the universality of people’s positive experiences with Meaghan is the common threads Esther noticed during the memorial.
“We all spoke of her amazing communication skills, how she put others before herself, her light, her amazing laugh, her bright smile,” said Esther. “A common word used to describe Meaghan is ‘light.’ Many of us spoke of how she illuminated our lives with her joy and friendship, how she shone through the thick veil of difficult times and touched us with the glimmer of her spirit.”
I feel incredibly lucky to have known Meaghan. I haven’t met anyone who was so ready to give love and encouragement, no matter how stressed out or tired she was.
Esther put it best: “I can’t believe how well she loved so many people—and I am so grateful that so many of us had the chance to see just how expansive and radical her love was.”
Radical is the word. Her love was radical, and she will be so missed.