Monday, January 3, 2011

TWO YEARS later....

After the last post about THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT, Jenny, a friend of Fort's from Fairmont and OU, sent me an email with this attached. She said Fort made it for her for her birthday their freshman year at OU. She's kept it all these years - said it's one of her favorite quotes. I thought it was appropriate for today. (Melissa could find the best quotes - and she LIVED by them - so apparent now...)

..or as Donny said "760 days" without Melissa. STILL seems like yesterday.
I went back to read my journal entry for January 3, 2010. Believe it or not I've come a long way.
I wrote "A WHOLE year. I don't understand it. I miss her voice. Her laugh. Her phone calls. Her and Nick arguing...about ANYTHING (OH HOW I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR THAT AGAIN!) The whole in my heart grows every day without her. The pain is still there."

Well, none of that has changed. But what HAS changed?

The grief now comes in waves (sometimes TSUNAMIS)- usually when I am by myself (especially in the car)...Music, pictures, new found treasures can all set the waves in motion.
Someone once told me (about a year ago), "One day you will wake up and she won't be the first thing you thing of" (she was very close to her mother, and that was how it happened for her)...That hasn't happened yet. I think about her EVERY DAY.
I still cry every day. (not ALL day, but EVERY day).
Holidays are rough. EVERY holiday.

Through the Compassionate Friends, I have found that these are all NORMAL feelings. I am NOT ALONE. I am no different than any other parent who has lost a child. The pain will never go away.

What I HAVE learned (two years later), is that Melissa taught me a LOT of things.
Take one day at a time.
Appreciate each day.
Be a friend.

In the last year, a lot of GOOD things have happened:

* The first Melissa Fortener McLaughlin Scholarships were awarded.
* Stacy & Pauly included Fort in their birthday celebration (It started with
Fort (30) Stacy (30) and Pauly (40) as One Hundred Year of Greatness...
then 103 Years of Greatness, 106 and this year 109 Years of Greatness and
we are STILL invited...thank you.
* We received a BEAUTIFUL book, MADE by Angie "What I Learned from Fort" (we will treasure it ALWAYS)
* Stacy put together a CD called ONE YEAR LATER - I still have it in the CD player and listen to it all the time...
* In February, Jen S. (one of Fort's rugby coaches from after college) ran in the
Donna Breast Cancer Marathon in Jacksonville, Fl - carried a pink & white rugby ball ALL 26.2 miles, then handed it off to Donny & me when she crossed the finish line (the story here is Fort talked Jen into doing a marathon (both of them) - while they where doing a 5k breast cancer walk/run - so Jen was determined to do it!)
* Donny was hired as the Running Backs Coach at Fairmont High School - working with the new Head Coach, Andy "Rock", one of Melissa's best friends in high school.
* Ive received letters from Annie, her roommate from her sophomore year at OU (they lived in the Convo ONE YEAR together!) - sharing her memories -storied I'd never heard...and Annie is thinking about joining us on the 3 Day Walk in Atlanta in October too!
* Had a surprise visit from ANOTHER of Fort's rugby friends - E Black. She was in town visiting from Washington - GREAT surprise. We reminisced, talked, laughed and cried...and I almost made her miss her flight! She left a torn rugby jersey "that reminded her of Fort!"
* Sharon & Karyn (a newly PREGNANT Karyn) did the 3 day walk in Atlanta for Fort
* In October - Breast Cancer Awareness Month - Fairmont High School Octogon Club sold300 FORT bracelets (proceeds going to the Scholarship Fund) 80 year old DAD even sold 40 FORT bracelets to his friends at the VFW & Polish Club, NOW trying to sell them in Florida to his friends there!

AND the Kelts held the SEVENTH Annual Breast Cancer Fundraiser, raising OVER $4000 - with half the proceeds going to the Scholarship and half to Susan G. Komen (for the 3 Day Walk October 2011 - TEAM B POSITIVE!)
* At the fundraiser - I spotted someone with a FORT tshirt on, asked to have my picture with him...turns out it was ROYAL N. - the recipient of the 2009 Melissa FORT McLaughlin Keltic Pride Award...AND a friend of mine on FB (how embarrassing)SORRY ROYAL - but I'm glad we met (again)
* FACEBOOK - Fort put me on Facebook while she was in the hospital - I'm pretty sure it was her way of keeping me in touch with all her friends...she let me choose HER friends to be MY friends (remember Pauly?)...I loved that. Still do.
* Watching Melissa fight her battle with cancer helped ME help others who are going through the same thing. I don't know everything, but I KNOW that it is a battle that can be fought while continuing to live a positive, full life...and being a part of contributing to POSITIVE things like the 3 Day Walk (raising money for Breast Cancer Awareness/Research, and JACKIE'S BOOKS (a fundraiser which raised almost $2000 for Books for Children's Hospital in Dayton)...
* Fort's story was on a national television show (all 90 seconds of it) The Balancing Act
* Susan G. Komen called again THIS year, and asked to share Melissa's story for their 2011 Fundraising Campaign for the Atlanta 2011 3 Day Walk.

Butterflys....LOTS of butterflys!

* I am thankful for all the treasures she left behind (and we are still finding...mostly cards with messages - that I share here)

* And I am blessed with not only MY friends, but with Melissa's friends who continue to stay in touch, and continue to share their stories about Melissa. It is HONESTLY the reason I get through each day.

And where would I be without Donny, Nick, Mere, Drew, Max & John...AND my sister Sue. Probably not here. They continue to be there for me EVERY day. I just hope that I can be there for them when they need me...I am working on that.

A lot of positive things have happened in the last year. I continue to miss her
EVERY SINGLE DAY, and the pain is still there. But good things are happening.

THANK YOU for accepting me for who I am now, and THANK YOU for continuing to talk about Melissa and remembering her.


KJ said...

Thank you for keeping this blog going! We love you!

Anonymous said...

It keeps ME going. Love you too KJ (& Watts)