A Tribute to Melissa…

Tuesday morning, I learned of the passing of a friend. I am not writing this for sympathy. We had lost touch and only recently started following one another on Instagram again. All thoughts and prayers should certainly go to her husband and 3 children. Not me.

She was 36 and battling Aplastic Anemia. While she recently had a bone marrow transplant, she was certainly not out of the clear and had to be super cautious of infections. Ultimately, the cause of death was pneumonia.

I had known Melissa since college. She was roommates with one of my friends and was in my program. We had classes together, but never really got to know each other more than just as acquaintances. After college, I worked in an insurance company. While I liked the people I worked with, I really wanted to work in a job utilizing my degree. I feel like I applied to a million jobs. One day, I received a call. It was Melissa. I applied for a job where she was currently working. They asked her if she knew me since they noticed the same college listed on our resumes. She had called to give me some insight into the position and to see if I was really interested. She said if I really was still interested, she would put in a good word.

About a month or so later, I received a job offer and ended up working at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic for 5 years. When I look back on that experience, I have nothing but fond memories.

When I heard of her passing, I started thinking…

She was my age.

She had 3 children.

She had a husband.

She was a fighter.

She had such a positive attitude through it all.

If it weren’t for her, I would never be where I am today. I would have never met 3 of my best friends. It was that moment that changed the trajectory of my life. I was stuck and she came to the rescue.

From all of this, I have been reminded of two things. First, life is too short. She did not have enough time on this earth. She didn’t have the chance to see her kids graduate from high school or college or get married. She will never be a grandparent. Her husband will have to go through all of those milestones without her. I will never take those moments for granted. I will do anything in my power to make sure that I never miss a single one.

Second, I know that certain people are put into your life because from the time you meet them, your life will never be the same. They make an impact on you and the people around you. And sadly, sometimes you don’t realize it until it is too late.

I have been thinking about her family so much in the last few days. They are the ones who are truly suffering without her. I cannot even imagine what they are going through. Hold your loved ones a little tighter today and take note of everything – how they smell, how they look, how they sound, how they feel when you hug them. And be sure to tell them every day how much you love them.


*For anyone who likes to make contributions to help families suffering with these awful diseases, you can donate to the Aplastic Anemia and MDS International Foundation here. Please dedicate your contribution to Melissa Donnelly Kohler.*


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