Tuesday, November 11, 2014

My Melissa

Her Dad wore a red Millennium Falcon shirt and her blue jeweled lanyard around his neck. Her Mom sat across from him with hollow eyes.

“There’s too much noise in my head,” she said.

It’s hard to watch parents grieve. It’s harder when you knew their only daughter and thought that maybe someday, she’d be a part of your family.

Melissa died on Friday morning holding my brother’s hand. 

Everything happened all at once and in agonizing slow motion. An early morning phone call, a race to the hospital, a candle-light vigil, and cardboard boxes in the living room of things she bought with us. 

She spent the summer here - eating pizza, going to the beach, playing card games, and watching Star Wars. She just fit.

One evening, we ventured to the beach at sunset to take group pictures. I stopped the photoshoot to run over to her. I grabbed her cheeks and yelled, “Can we all just take a minute to look at how beautiful Melissa is right now?” She smiled shyly and I turned around as my brother gave her a quick kiss. 

I will always remember her, just standing there, glowing in the late afternoon sun.

Melissa Kennon was striking and smart, gentle and adventurous. She had curly blonde hair, a dimpled smile, and she always wore high-waisted jean shorts. She collected vinyl records and wanted to study neuropsychology. She had a dog named Oliver and she loved her sorority sisters. 

Today, we met with her parents for coffee and made plans for Thanksgiving. It’s bittersweet to gain another family without the one member who brought you together. 

My Dad hugged me in the parking and cried into my ear, “You are my Melissa.”

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