I’m sitting at my desk today, it’s in general been a good day, getting stuff done and looking forward to seeing three of my favorite women who are driving down from Portland tonight. It’s a funny and long story how the four of us came to be, that is something best saved for another post, but the short version is that we worked together at the same company ten years ago.
Before this group of amazing women and I bonded together I was all alone at the company, the youngest in my department a fresh 24 year old, branching out with my first “real” job, engaged to be married, startlingly crass but kind nonetheless. I worked for a home builder and lived in one of the neighborhoods (The Vine, as we called it) one day on my second week there I bumped into a similarly aged female in the lunch room, we chatted, discovered our backyards bumped up against each other and a friendship was born.
Melissa and I had much to bond over, music, food, baking, dirty jokes, talking trash about our co-workers over margaritas at Chili’s, eventually marriage and down the line babies. The worst thing we had in common was losing our parents at a young age (her Mom when she was a teenager my dad when I was 13) it’s a weird club to be in at that age, your parent didn’t elect to not be in your life, there is no one to really yell at, you don’t fit with the divorced kids (even if they were divorced before the parent died, I found this to be the weirdest) it’s just weird. As you get older you find other people who are like you and you create this effed up little club who’s members are all super awesome. Why? Because we learned before everyone else that life is not permanent, that you are not invincible and really terrible things happen to good people who are doing everything they are supposed to.
One of the conversations we had frequently was our fears over whether or not we would face a similar fate as our parents, Melissa already had a son Austin and was planning on another child, it would be five more years before I had one of my own. Less than a year after becoming friends Melissa moved to North Carolina but we never lost touch, as more tiny humans came into our lives the emails were more sparse but always as heartfelt and genuine.
When Melissa was diagnosed with cancer we cried. We never spoke of our long ago conversations about our fear of this happening. Never. She carried on and her fight was mighty. She endured more than most people can handle and she did it with grace, humility and a mega watt smile on her face.
As I sit here today, going through emails in another office not so different than the one from before I realized I hadn’t heard from her in awhile. Or seen her post on Facebook. Or receive a Christmas card…..
Melissa passed away December 9th, 2013. She is survived by her amazing partner, friend, husband Todd and her precious tiny humans Austin and Logan.
I feel like a giant asshole for never having replied to her last email and yet I can see her, huge smile on her face reminding me that we always said everything we needed to say. It’s the first rule of our club.
*from the song “Melissa” by The Allman Brothers.