Friday, September 11, 2009

Melanie's Song

This is one of my all time favourite songs Breathe.

It's been tainted with sadness as a person I know had this played during her funeral. I'm extremely reluctant to call her a "friend" as that would be placing more closeness to our relationship than there actually was. But it was a girl I worked with for a year when I had a part time job in a clothes store 6 years ago. She had a huge impact on me and more than anything I wish I had been more equipped/bold/friendly to have made one on her.

The story of her life that she shared with me during those late night shopping hours are never going to leave me. Her life saddened me. Made me angry towards those who hurt and abandoned her. At the same time I was in awe of how incredibly hard working and generous she was.

Melanie became a mum when she was only 15 years old. Her own mother had died when she was young. She had spent her life shipped between relatives. When I met her she was 25, a year and a bit older than me at the time. We connected straight away because we were both young mums other than that our backgrounds and lives were vastly different. She worked full time to provide for her daughter who was a very mature wise little girl for her 10 years. I caught snippets of her life every so often when she would share such personal details during odd random moments. I learned she was in fact the mother of 2, her second child a full blood sibling to her first had to be given up for adoption when the fathers family refused to support her or even acknowledge the new baby. She was 19 and had to give him up to a family who would love and protect him. This broke my heart. I viewed her in a completely different light from then on.

She left our store and went to work in another. We kept in contact only visiting each other while we were working though. There were a few times that she invited me to a party, I was pregnant by then with number 3 child and it didn't appeal. I now wish I had made the effort.

She would share with me about these awful sounding guys she would go out with for a short while. I look back and I was judgemental and I had absolutely no right to be. I believe that's what kept a distance between us. From me embracing her and loving her.

She always had a cold, or a head ache (she put it down to the drink she'd had the night before). She kept on working and I never remember her being away sick. Like all of us her life was going to be perfect when she lost that last 5 kgs. She did. She looked great. She didn't feel it though.

I left my job to have my baby and we moved towns so I no longer visited that particular mall anymore. It wasn't until about a year later that I found out she had been diagnosed and gone under treatment for leukaemia. When I found this out about her I was shocked. This can't happen, she's had more than her fair share of life's hardships. I prayed for her a lot. I had this vision of me visiting her in hospital, making sure she was saved, becoming her friend, making her all better. In reality that wasn't the case. I had heard she couldn't see visitors during the radiation, even her own daughter's visits were limited. I was in and out of that hospital a lot at that time, because my baby girl had clicky hips and needed frequent visits. I enquired after her at reception one day, she had been discharged.

Months passed and I heard no more. I figured she must have been recovering. I heard she had a bone marrow transplant. I later learned it hadn't worked. I finally tracked her down and got in contact with her. She wanted to see me. I had just had my 4th baby at this stage and I organised for the other kids to be cared for so I could spend time with her. I was incredibly nervous... I remember driving into town and hearing on the radio that Anna Nicole Smith had been found dead that morning.
I met Mel in a cafe' and we had coffee and lunch. I felt awkward, like I had an ulterior motive, which I guess I did, that's why I was so nervous. It was obvious she was not getting better and she had began making "arrangements". She had selflessly sent her daughter over seas to live with her father so she could start the school year fresh, on time even though it meant the possibility of never seeing her again. Mel was not well enough to fly. Again I was heartbroken as she put her child's needs ahead of her own. Another old workmate later joined us for lunch and I never got around to asking her "how she was possied with JC".

I left that lunch with a feeling of failure and regret. I had prayed that God would give me everything I needed to say to her that day, so I just had to believe this was his will. Had the opportunity never arisen or was it not part of His plan? Or had I chickened out?

We kept in contact via text and a few weeks later I was called to the hospital with the information that this could be the last time I see her. I prayed. Oh did I pray about it. I had friends praying all over for her too. My husband suggested I pray for her while I visited. I wrote it down on a piece of paper before I left because I wasn't used to praying out loud with anyone .

When I got there I was disappointed that the same lunch friend was there too. Mel looked bad. I have never seen anyone that sick before. She looked like a little old lady, every scrap of hair was missing from her body, she was a strange yellow colour. My heart was lead. It had such an overwhelming heaviness I can't barely begin to explain. We couldn't stay long, she had lost control of her bowels and we reassured her not to be embarrassed. Things like that just don't matter when the realness of life is forced upon us. All I could do was offer her the piece of paper I had written on, intending for me to use as "notes". I said goodbye, afraid to hurt her with my touch she was so fragile.

It's not until now that I realise I had it all wrong. Where alot of people of faith get it wrong. It's not about having motives, to get others believe the same as we do. We can't brainwash or bully others into seeking salvation. It's about forming relationships and loving one another. If we JUST love everything else will fall into place. Imagine how different the world would be.

I'm never going to know what Mel's decision was and that too was obviously part of the plan. It is a constant reminder to me to have courage and to build relationships with the people that are purposely placed in my day to day life.

Names were changed


Womans World Magazine said...

I just watched my sisters keeper was so touched! Cancer seems like such an exhausting process and every moment and words spoken to the person seem to become so important. I understand your point exactly that we shouldnt wait for something to happen to make our moments with others more meaningful, they always should be.

Thank you for sharing her story, It was written so beautifully.