The other day when I woke up I was thinking about what I would write for the seventh anniversary. The more I thought about it, I thought it was time to write a letter to Melissa. (I've done that before - in a personal message on FB. Just to her). Later that day I had a message from Angie, her best friend from high school...and what do you know...Angie had the same idea. It is beautiful, and says so much of what I would say. Donny wanted me to share it on the blog. My post will be in the next day or two.
A letter to Melissa....
I'm pretty reflective all year long, but especially in the month of December..at least since you left us.
I remember distinctly about 9 years ago when we sat side by side on the bleachers watching a Fairmont High School volleyball game. There were 2 little old women in the stands sitting together and you said "That will be us someday." I realized when you said it that there was a good chance we'd never get to be those little old ladies...but oh how I wish that would have come true. Most say that with time the pain gets easier, but I think that you just get more used to it. The further away we get from you being gone the more it seems to hurt. I'll get to all the positive things I've learned in a minute, but just let me get through the part where I tell you why it's hard. Because as much as I know that there is far more to be grateful for than sad over, there is still a blaring reality to the hole that's been left in your absence. I don't want you to eternally be 30. I want you to get old with me and talk about wrinkles and gray hairs and the aching body parts. But even if we can't be immortal, I know our friendship is.
It's the simplest of things I miss the most...picking up the phone to call you about the most random of stories or for your advice. Your voice when you'd answer and just say "What's up?" The way you'd get distracted during a phone call and just plain ignore me. When I think of a memory and just want to call you and say "Remember when?" I miss your stories the most. The ones I'd get to hear first...then I'd hear you re-tell them a few times...getting a little grander and more expansive each time.
I have lots of friends, some I've even made since you left...but no one will ever hold a candle to you. You were my female equivalent to a husband. We had all kinds of ridiculousness but loved each other in spite of it ... and yes, I take full responsibility for being the bigger drama queen. What I wouldn't give though to have you here to argue about something pointless? You know, like tampons. This isn't a reflection nohow I feel about any other relationship in my life, it's just to be noted that you were it for me. The one that only comes once in a lifetime. Every time I think about you it resonates that you were one of a kind. There's no one in the world like you.
Lots of amazing things have happened since you left...like super, mind-blowingly amazing. I have a son, Bennett. You would adore him. His strong-will. His social skills. His chubby cheeks and stomping feet and a toothless smile that will light up a room. He's a show stopper and a wrecking ball and he's all mine. I want to share him with you. I imagine the two of you in a room and I can't imagine anything but laughter and happiness because you would adore his spirit and he would love your energy. It's so hard to explain you to him in words...you are not the type of person who can easily be explained. You had to be known for a person to really understand who you were.
I met my match in a man, Allen. Unconventional circumstances, but unlike any love I've ever know. He makes me feel whole, like I've found the piece I was missing. We get each other. We have the same goals. We have adventures. There is chaos. He is great with Bennett. But we are happy and it is easy. There's no challenge too great if we work through it together. You would like him. He's my best friend now... not the same as you, but he's good at trying to understand my loss of you and just lets me cry and tell stories about you. I think he understands how special you were and how much of me is tied to you. You have no idea how much I value that. If someone can't try to understand who you were and how much you meant, they can never understand me completely.
My biggest fear...is to forget. I think for each year that passes that somehow I'm getting closer to losing memories or forgetting the little things about you that drove me crazy and that I adored. I don't want your story to be any less strong from the day after you died to 20 years from now. I can't comprehend that 7 years have passed. That any of us have actually kept on living without you here. But we have. Because that is just how life works.
As for the good, there is so much. I know you already know all of these things I'm telling you but it helps me to write it down. It makes me feel it more. I'm so grateful for all that your life and death have taught me. You taught me that attitude and perspective make all the difference in the outcome. You taught me that the little things that stress us out, are just that. Little. I see the bigger picture so much better now. I am quick to apologize and don't hang on to anger. Life is too short for that. You've taught me that now is the time to be living. Right now. Since I lost you, I haven't been depressed..at least not in a way that I once was. I believe I will never find that low place again because I paid attention. I learned from you. I know you were mad, but I hope you see that I'm sorry and somehow it all turned out okay and I'll never be back there again. I promise that. My life was forever changed because you were a part of it. You are with me every single day and so many of my choices comes from what I've learned from the way you lived. I know I was lucky to have had you. I just selfishly wish I had gotten more time and that we could be those old ladies at the volleyball game. I'd give just about anything for an hour of your time just to catch up. But I know that would never be enough. There is a hole in me that will never be filled but I've always been at peace with why it happened this way and all that you gave to so many of us. In the end, I'm just grateful to have had you by my side even if only for a short while.
Yesterday, I went to the Fortener family Christmas. It's so nice to be invited to your family functions still. Your mom told me, "You're the closest we can get to having Melissa there." That's an honor. I'm so thankful for your Mom, we have both needed each other many times and we use one another as our substitute for you. I know she will never let me forget a thing. She gave me a mug with your picture on it. I treasure it. It says Best Friends Forever...and I know that's what we will always be.
I miss you in the deepest way a person can be missed.
I couldn't have said it better.
Thank you Angie, for being such a good friend to Melissa. Then AND now. We love you.