In the beginning (seven years ago) I NEEDED to post more often. I needed to talk about Melissa. All the time. Please don't misunderstand. I miss my daughter EVERY single day. Every minute of every day. It's evident if you've ever been to our house. I'm a little embarrassed to say it's a shrine to our daughter. Pictures, articles, sentimental items in every room. We all handle this grief differently. Some people can't look at pictures...for a long time. I'm just the opposite. I need to see them every day. I need her around me every day. Fortunately, Donny feels the same. (we DO have photos of Nick, Mere and the boys around the house too! We love them equally!)
May is a busy month. When I look back in my personal journals, I am seeing a pattern. My journals are for the days that I am struggling. I don't want to burden anyone, so I write. I feel better when I write down my feelings. Mostly bad, I hate to say. I struggle in the fall. Melissa's favorite time of year. I struggle from November through January (the holidays, the anniversary, her birthday). And May.
I couldn't figure out why I was so down a couple of weeks ago until I pulled out my journal. Every year in May I write in the journal. Mother's Day. Another holiday. Donny & Nick ALWAYS pull me out of the doldrums.
It's been awhile since I've gotten a dozen roses...
Nick and the boys help too...
and I'm Pammom to Matthew...
Mother's Day is hard too because MY mom is not here....her birthday is May 12. She died on May 20. No wonder it's a rough month.
Donny is blessed to still have his mom here!
This month was hard too because we lost a good friend - Mike Geary. He was the husband of my good friend Jackie who passed away five years ago. Donny and I stayed in touch with Mike on a regular basis after Jackie died. Three years ago he was diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis. While I know Jackie is happy to have him with her, we are missing him as we KNOW their kids are missing both their mom AND dad.
This was the program at Mike's memorial service. The picture of Jackie and Mike was taken at the Scholarship Fundraiser we had for Melissa in 2009. Ben (their son) said he and Elizabeth loved this picture because they both had genuine smiles in this photo. I couldn't agree more. We miss them both so much...
This is their grandson, Oliver. Jackie never got to meet her grandson. I had to opportunity to watch Oliver for a few hours when Elizabeth got back into town. He is adorable - and smart too. This child has travelled the world already! Will be seeing him in a couple of weeks again for a day or so, until they move to their next residence!
So this was the beginning of the upswing of May. I needed this.
Applications for Melissa's scholarships (we give two $1000 scholarships) are due April 15. The awards ceremony is always in May. Giving these scholarships is so important to us - Melissa will be remembered as long as we are able to award these scholarships, and thanks to the Kelts and their yearly fundraiser, they will be awarded long after we are gone! Nick presented the scholarships last year and this year (Angie and Andy Aracri, two of Fort's high school friends) have helped us with this in the past.
The 2016 recipients of the Melissa Fortener McLaughlin Scholarships are
Adam Duffy (attending The Ohio State University) and
Emily Hughes (attending Capitol University in Columbus)
Another May event that we always look forward to is the Komen Race for the Cure in Columbus with our good friends Randy & Carolyn. Last year was the first year we participated with them, and it's going to be an annual tradition for us!
I've heard people comment in the past that so much fundraising and research goes toward Breast Cancer...why not other cancers?
Attending this event kind of gives you an idea why. Over 30,000 people participated in this 5K! It's is the biggest Race for the Cure event in the U.S. That's a lot of people!!!! All affected in some way by breast cancer...a grandmother, mother, sister, DAUGHTER, friend. And MEN are affected too!
My hope is that SOME DAY, with all the money that is raised for breast cancer research, if not a cure, they will make this a TREATABLE disease. Something that those affected can live a long life.
We know that early detection is the key to surviving this awful disease. Unfortunately not everyone is diagnosed in the early stages. (MELISSA).
And when they find the cure OR make this a treatable disease, my hope is that it will transfer to other cancers - whatever cure or treatment they discover will work for other cancers too.
I'm not sure how much was raised today - but I'm guessing it was a bundle.
We will walk and we will run until we find a cure. As long as we live.
can you find Fort in the picture? Left side above the ribbon!
oh...and Fort was there. OU flag flying in BUCKEYE territory. Imagine that.
But that is not the best sign we got this weekend. We got to Columbus last night - stayed @ Randy & Carolyn's condo a block from Short North. Went to dinner and had a few beers and were talking about how we would have never met had we not lost our children. (their son Sam died 10/10/07-this is important for the next story - in Bagdhad). How we met and how we are there for each other...and right then, the song "Lean on Me by Bill Withers came on! -
"Sometimes in our lives,
we all have pain, we all have sorrow.
But if we are wise
We know that there's always tomorrow.
Lean on me when your're not strong
And I'll be your friend, I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
Til I'm gonna need somebody to lean on.
Synchronicity. Happens to us all the time.
So today, we are finishing the walk. Closing in on the finish line...I look at my watch to see what time it is, and I said outloud "It's 10:10". Donny, Randy and Carolyn all looked at me at the same time...Ten Ten. SAM. (Sam's # in football was 10. He died on 10/10. They find dimes all the time. Now we find them too. Sam letting us know he's around us too.
Can't think of a better ending to this post.