I’ll never forget Melanie.

October 27, 2008 at 12:02 am (Family, Friends, GOD, New friends, Places, Religious, Stories, Sylvia) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )


By Sylvia

I’ll never forget Melanie. She was a beautiful young woman, taken from this life way too early. Mel was so nonjudgmental… she found the beauty and possibility in everyone, reflected by her genuine smile, and sparkling eyes.

It was October of 2001… a time when we all were still freshly bruised from 9/11. I wanted more than ever to be surrounded by friends for a week at the shore. I rent a place that looks out onto the ocean at 4th street in Ocean City, New Jersey. This would be the first of an annual tradition. Mel was definitely on board, and couldn’t wait to join me there for at least a couple of days.

Days before the beach venture, I got a call from her saying she couldn’t make it. She had developed excruciating back pain and went to see her doctor. She had an appointment to get an MRI, and one night at work, the pain was so intense, she called the same doctor and told him. He instructed her to meet him in the MRI. Hours later, he determined that her liver was four times its normal size. It was then that she was diagnosed with liver cancer. The treatment began immediately.

When I arrived at the beach, I went to the shore line. I thought of Mel, and her demise. I knew she was going through some difficult times, and I bowed my head in thoughts and prayers for her recovery. When I looked up there was a double rainbow. I didn’t move, for fear I would miss it. I just stood there and let it wash over me. I was hoping this was a good sign.

Fast-forward to June of 2002. I finally left my husband of 23 years and was a “traveler” at Johns Hopkins. The agency provided me with a luxury apartment on the water in Fell’s Point. Four women came down to visit me one weekend in June. Mel was one of them. She adorned a black wig, nothing like her own raven hair, but her olive skinned beauty glowed more than ever. Her gleaming white teeth almost mocked me, against her always tanned look. Mel had strong Croatian roots, and she turned heads everywhere. It was 100 degrees in Baltimore that summer day, and we all hoped Mel would just want to hang out in an air conditioned bar, instead, she drug us around the city honing our tourist roles. We laughed and cried all weekend. That was the last time I saw her alive.

I moved to Hershey six weeks later to accept a position at the Med Center. Mel and I had been in touch via emails and phone calls. She was told that no more could be done. In September, I attended her funeral. Mel was only forty-one.

The following January, I had the most vivid dream of my life.

I was at a party. For some reason it was being held at Longwood Gardens. All of my favorite people were there. Over in a corner was Mel in a little girl’s party dress complete with a big blue satin bow. (Was this image because I think of her as being so young?)

“Mel!!” I gasped. “What are you doing here? You died!!”, I said.

With that, she began to float away, and was smiling, but with tears in her eyes, she said,

“I miss you guys!!”

“We miss you too, Mel…we talk about you all of the time!” I cried.

“I know“, she continued, “I hear you guys talking about me, even when it’s not out loud… I hear you ALL of the time….do you know what that is??”

“No” I retorted “what is it?”

“That’s what HEAVEN is”, she explained. “And do you know what HELL is?”, she asked.

“Noooo”, I wasn’t sure whether I was replying or asking… and she simply put it,

“HELL IS HEARING NOTHING, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, THAT’S WHAT HELL IS”,

“THANK YOU GUYS FOR KEEPING ME IN HEAVEN!!

And with that, she floated away.

A few weeks later I drove home to see my folks. Although it was February, it was unseasonably warm. I loved the feeling of my then, longer hair blowing around with the sunroof open. My mom was employed at Penney’s. She was only to work until about 1pm, and we were going out to lunch, just the two of us. After a four hour drive I managed to pull into the mall parking lot with time enough to put on a little make up and pull back my unruly hair. I didn’t want to look as tired as I felt. I dug through a zipper bag to find anything to tie my locks out and away from my face. After the waitress took our order, mom reached up and fingered the ribbon in my hair.

“What’s this?”, she smiled, “Why, isn’t that the same blue satin ribbon from a party dress you had when you were a little girl?”

I didn’t realize it until that moment, but it was. I smiled up at Mel, keeping her in “HEAVEN”.

Advertisements

Permalink 11 Comments