I met Angela, or Dr. Foss, in the fall of 2009. I was one of two Spanish majors seeking a Spanish License to teach, and in combination with three other ESL teachers there were too many of us for the professor who usually worked with Spanish majors during their student teaching internship so they contacted Angela to come in and work with us. The first time I met her I was so intimidated. I was still in this “at any moment they are going to realize I’m a fake and I’m not cut out to be a teacher” and I was sure she would discover this and the jig would be up. This lady is tall and just looks no-nonsense, which, now that I know her very well seems hilarious. She and I are such kindred spirits. For starters, she graduated from Meredith in 1993 (I turned 6 that year and went to Disney World) and taught high school Spanish for a number of years and eventually taught ESL and actually really started ESL in NC schools. She wrote the beginnings of ESL curriculum and for many years did contract work for the state department in regards to ESL policy and curriculum.
During my internship she would observe me periodically and we would have weekly meetings at her house, since she didn’t have an office at MC, and in those meetings we got to know each other very, very well. She was so encouraging about me being a teacher, and after my first observation she told me that I was a ‘natural’ and it looked like I had been doing it for years. I later found that she is brutally honest, and she wouldn’t have ‘just said that’ so my relationship with her became admittedly half- selfish as she constantly fought my ever waning self-confidence in the classroom. During our meetings, I also learned that she and her husband had recently gotten back into going to church and she and I both shared a lot of the same views in regards to Jesus (He was 100%, 100% God), church (people should be genuine and not annoying), family (we want to love them, even though they suck sometimes), Spanish (way easier and more fun than English), grammar (enjoyable), and Starbucks and Target are great, but a Target with a Starbucks in it is borderline heavenly.
I graduated and we kept in touch some as I started work at my first job, and I’d call her periodically on my way home from work (a 45 minutes commute, lady loves to talk on the phone) and as things got busier we fell out of touch. I also really do not enjoy talking on the phone, so I’d often put it off. I think it was the end of November after I had been thinking about her a lot and how I should call, she left me a voicemail and I called her back expecting the normal conversation. I was complainy about work and my long first year teacher hours (I remember I had been at work 7am-7pm) and she empathized. Then she said, “I have some news. Before I get started, I just want to let you know that I’m ok.” My heart dropped.
I was on 242, my country road of choice for my commute and I slammed on brakes and turned into a church parking lot and sat while she told me what had been going on. She wasn’t feeling well and had blood work done to find that she was nearly in renal failure which led to a diagnosis of Multiple myeloma. She had undergone some chemotherapy to get the cancer out of her blood marrow and at that point their biggest prayer was that the blood marrow would be completely clean so she could have a transplant from her own clean marrow. I kept in touch as much as I could over the next few months as they spent most of their time in hospitals looking for opinion after opinion on how to handle treatment, and then she finally went through a bone marrow transplant at UNC Hospital.
The following summer, her husband had to go back to worth and while Angela recovered from a bone marrow transplant I spent my summer with them while he was at work. I played with their daughter Lindsey, did laundry, learned a little about cooking, grocery shopped, went for walks, ran to Starbucks & Krispy Kreme, drove Angela to chemo among other things for about 10 weeks until school started back. That summer was challenging. At times I wish I handled the stress of it better, but in retrospect I am so grateful to spend so much time with someone who has meant so much to me and to witness firsthand a legitimate miracle. The way God healed this woman blew the minds of all the doctors that worked with her. And the friends around her!
My favorite story from the whole process was about her eyebrows. Angela, and I are so alike, and I totally identify with the sentiment of this, but she loves her eyebrows. As most teenage girls have issues with their appearance, at some point you decide which features are your best and which are not. For me, I was always super self conscious of my nose (it’s pretty crooked and has a big bump in the middle) so I decided that my blue eyes were my best feature. I am short, with a crooked nose and thin hair, but my eyes are pretty blue. Angela decided that she loved her eyebrows & eyelashes. She said that no matter what she looked like growing up, she knew that she had eyebrows and eyelashes that others were jealous of. During chemo she was so upset that she would lose them and confided in one of her friends that she was just devastated she would lose them (I love this, not only do I have CANCER but now you’re gonna take my eyelashes too, God?!) and one night she and her friend prayed and prayed that she wouldn’t lose them. I will tell you firsthand, I worked with the woman all summer and she was bald as could be all over her body. Bald head. Bald arms. Bald legs. But she had her brows & lashes. I love what this illustrates about God: no detail is too small for him, and no feat too big. Of course doctors are all, “well sometimes it happens…” Yeah. Excellent explanation. I prefer to think that God (Abba) loves his kids and would do anything for them. Not limited to saving eyebrows.
She wrote a book about her journey of being born again (literally, as her immune system was brand new after the transplant) and her dialogue with God through the process and is in the final stages of publishing. She needed a little picture for the back and asked me to take one for her and I honestly just can’t even believe how much our lives have changed since I met her in Ledford hall three years ago. With God, there are no coincidences and no mistakes and this woman is in my life because I needed her. Having a friend (honestly, friend doesn’t really do what she is to me justice) like Angela is just so inexplicable. She is family, but in a greater since of the word, not just a “I like her a lot” way. We annoy each other. We learn from each other. We have seen each other at the complete worst. We have celebrated with each other through the best (remission & marriage). She gives advice and seeks advice. I give advice and I seek advice. She brews me lots of tea and force feeds me sweets. Love abounds.
As details come out about her book, Hear I Am, and it’s final steps to publishing I will definitely share. I’ve read the prologue (that’s all she’ll share right now) and it is just a beautifully written honest conversation with God and a documentation of all the little miracles which point back to the biggest miracle, Jesus himself who has conquered death and everything in between.