May 16, 2017 was a day that changed my life forever. It was the day that cancer took away my best friend at the tender age of only 22 years old. Melissa was not just a regular friend; she was amazing. She was truly like a sister to me. She was so loyal, so kind, and always by my side no matter what crazy thing was happening. I never once, in the 10 years we knew each other, doubted our friendship. I knew that we could get through anything together.
She was first diagnosed with cancer at the age of 16. Over the course of the next 7 years, I watched her suffer through all the surgeries, the chemo and radiation, and all the at-home movie nights when she was just too exhausted to go anywhere. I listened to her vent her frustrations, cry through her worries, and celebrate her steps forward. Every step along the way, whether it was my journey or hers, we had each other to lean on.
This may help you understand why I was so devastated when her husband called me at 7:30 on the morning of May 16, 2017, to tell me that she had passed away a few hours earlier. It seemed so unreal to me, in that moment. How can the person I spent the afternoon at the park with just last weekend be gone? How is that possible? I knew it was coming, to be honest. I knew it for a few months, but that didn’t take away from the fact that it seemed so completely wrong for such a sweet soul to have to suffer so much and be taken away so soon. I could spend hours telling you about the 10 years I had with this amazing human being, but that’s not my purpose. I want to share with you what this experience has taught me because it has completely changed my life.
Melissa was the type of person who always seemed to know exactly who she was. She was always so fearless about it, too. I know she had some insecurities, but she lived her life as if she didn’t. She did what she wanted to do and forged her own path, no matter what anyone else thought about it. She lived her life so fearlessly despite all the things she had to fear and now that she is gone, I’m hoping that I am able to carry on that legacy for her. She showed me truly how short and precious life is, and how important it is to live your life the way you want to, and not the way others expect you to. After all, no one gets out of this life alive, so why not live it? It’s important to be smart about the decisions you make, but life is so satisfying when you do things your own way. And that’s exactly what I plan to do. I’ve always felt like I’m different from most people; I used to fear that, but Melissa showed me how to embrace it. She has given me the strength to be myself, and to have the courage to listen to my heart instead of other people’s opinions. Now every time I get upset, I think of her and it helps me to stay in the moment. It reminds me to live this day as if I might not get tomorrow. It drives me to share this message with the world and hope that others can take some inspiration from how I live my life and carry it with them in theirs.