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Riding for Maria

A photo of Maria Johnson who passed away in June after a long battle with colon cancer at 39-years-old. (Contributed)A photo of Maria Johnson who passed away in June after a long battle with colon cancer at 39-years-old. (Contributed)

By Megan Whitworth

Editor

“Maria was a free spirited, loving, caring, compassionate lady,” said Suzi Ener, friend of Maria Johnson, who passed away on June 12 from a long battle with colon cancer.

“She was a very loving mother who adored her daughter Chloe, a loving girlfriend who adored her boyfriend, Roger Stephens. Maria just loved everybody.”

Ener is hosting a memorial ride on Saturday, July 29 to remember Johnson. The ride will start at 880 Beverly Dr. in Shepherd with kick stands up around 12:30 p.m. Riders will travel down HWY 150 into Coldspring and down 156 around Lake Livingston to 190 E. The final stop will be the Wet Deck Bar and Grill in Livingston. The Wet Deck Bar is a bar that overlooks the lake. Musician Kenny Cooper is set to play tunes at 2 p.m.

“This is a memorial ride for our friend, for the friends and family that didn’t get to say their final goodbyes to our dear friend Maria. We will come together to laugh, cry and share stories about her. This is all in her honor,” Ener said. “If she knew that all these people were coming together for her, she would be so very excited and have the best time ever. She would be sitting right there with all of us and drinking her Bud Light Lime, just a laughing at what we all say.”

Johnson was first diagnosed with colon cancer in Feb. 2012. During her battle, Johnson found love with Stephens. In Nov. 2014 the duo was introduced during a night out with friends. Johnson and Stephens stayed out talking after everyone left. Two weeks later, when Ener was on her deer lease, friends came over, including Johnson and Stephens.

“Roger really wanted me to talk to Maria and find out more about her and make sure that she was serious about him,” Ener said. “I thought to myself, ‘Oh my God, even though he knows she has cancer and she possibly only has three years left. He wanted to make sure she was real about him and her. I also thought to myself, ‘This is one selfless, caring man right there.’ She told me that day about her growing up in Georgia and having Chloe, to when she was first diagnosed, to where she is in her treatment at that time.

"She told me how she knows she doesn’t have a long time, but she would really love to spend the rest of what life she does have with Roger. She said he gave her butterflies and wished she had met him a very long time ago. …When Roger and Roy got back from hunting, i gave Roger a thumb up and said, Oh yea, she is a keeper.’ And they were together ever since.”

Seeing her friend go through treatments was difficult for Ener, she said.

“She warned me that she has so many different emotions during the treatment/ When they came in and hooked her up, and about 30 minutes into it, the emotions started. She would sweat, cry, toss and turn, laugh a little and cry some more. When she was done she went in to change due to all the sweating,” she said. “I called my husband, Roy, while she was in restroom and i just cried. I hated seeing my friend go through this. I dried it up before she got back because i was not going to let her see me in a weak position. I refused to let her see me cry, because she loved the fact that i was so strong with dealing with things. …If she only knew how many times i cried for her and prayed for her.

“She was a strong fighter. She loved that she fell in love with Roger and she hurt because, ‘Why did it happen so late in life,’ she said,” Ener recalled of her late friend. “But she said she fought harder knowing he was by her and Chloe’s side, and that is where it stood until she left all of us.”

Ener said every memory with her friend is her favorite.

“Every time we were all together was my favorite. We did plan a trip to Luckenbach, Texas last year, and a bunch of us went and took the bikes,” Ener said. “We all wondered if this was going to be her last trip with us, and we wanted to make it unforgettable and it was. Roger wanted her to experience everything she could - riding in hill country, going into old places that had great Texas history to it. She had an amazing time, but it did wear her out. But i won’t ever forget the sights we saw together and the memories we all made."