When Melissa passed away, I was fifteen years old. Although I was young when she died, I could write books about the love we shared and our young years spent together. She was five years older than me; at first, the biggest bully in my life, and later, my biggest fan. We were stark opposites; she had long dark brown hair, a petite build and bubbly personality, I'm a strawberry blonde, with broad shoulders and a very shy demeanor. Melissa was the first grandchild on my mom's side of the family; a precious light that everyone gravitated to every time she walked in to the room.
It was an afternoon in late May when my mother's boyfriend walked in to my bedroom and told me that Melissa was dead. From what I recall the disbelief in my head kept questioning the situation: how? was there an ambulance? are you sure? did you try to save her? did the doctors try? did anyone try? she can't really be dead, someone must be trying to save her right now, right?
She was dead. She had been for almost 24 hours by the time my mom broke in to her apartment and found her laying in her bed. Three weeks prior I had visited her and we colored Easter eggs.
Four days before she died we had talked on the phone and finalized our plans to go to a large estate sale that upcoming weekend. Thank God I told her I loved her before hanging up.
The day she was found dead, I called her phone repeatedly. I kept hitting re-dial and listening to her voice mail. The reality of the situation, to tell you the truth, didn't hit me until many years later.
Unknown to myself and my family, Melissa had started experimenting with heroine. The heroine she snorted that night consisted of too much Fentanyl (an extremely potent cancer drug).
My best friend was dead. The woman who was supposed to walk with me through this life, our lives, had vanished with no notice. My big sister was gone, and I didn't realize the pain until I finally acknowledged how damaged I had become as a young woman years later. I have no other siblings--I'm an only child now.
My mother suffers from alcoholism and my father got diagnosed with schizophrenia seven years ago. I don't want this to be a pity story. I want it to accentuate that I felt alone and still feel very alone in my grieving process, and because of that, I rarely acknowledg the grief or deal with it. I pushed myself to support others, ignore my pain, and excel in other areas of my life.
It has been eight years since Melissa's passing. I find myself alone quite often, and it's in those moments of loneliness where I find her. My memories with her wash over me, reminding me that she was there and a crucial part of my life--that I'll never be whole again because such a beautiful part of my life is now missing. The lonely times remind me of my future: all the beauty that lies ahead but also all of the moments that will happen without her being a part of them.
Melissa was my rock, my best friend, the one person I knew I could rely on--always. Now that she's gone, I struggle with my hyper-independence, and with how much it hurts to miss her. I don't have any answers or coping strategies. But I do have an appreciation for family, love, friendships and siblings. She comes often in my dreams--I always find myself begging her to stay. She says to me that she simply can't, that she has to go.
Then I wake up. She really is gone.