The people I have written about before had losses or hardships in their lives that they were able to overcome and defeat or rise above and come out on the other side so strong and admirable. Melissa is like them but her story is different in some ways and I truly believe it is a blessing that I have been able to be there at times to support her.
Melissa grew up a fun loving, adventuresome young woman. After high school she went to college but then met the “man of her dreams” who turned out to be a nightmare. He swept her off her feet and she fell hook line and sinker.
This turned out to be a nightmare which she has written about in a book. The husband moved her away from her family and friends and isolated her. During that time we stayed in touch and one would never know there were any issues. She was trying to make it all work out, but it was not to be and finally she got away and moved back home and finished college and got another degree and started to teach.
She had children to support and to provide a good environment for. But the ex still had visitation. In the end it turned out he was not taking good care of his children but because of family status and the way things went in those days no one was willing to prosecute him. So life went on.
Melissa and I got closer again during those years and we saw each other as often as we could. She has lived through the tragic deaths of her two youngest, and the sadness of having another child with mental illness. What I found out was that coping mechanisms really vary with people. This wonderful woman started to paint – walls, over and over again the interior color of her house would change. Every time I saw her the interior of her house was so different, changing colors and adding pieces to compliment the colors really can make you think you are in a new home. Then she started doing art projects which were works of art in memory of her children. I am blessed to have some of those pieces and treasure them because the pain and suffering they come from was turned into touching works of art.
When we are together there is much laughter. The tears were in the past and they stay there. We now share the joys of our lives. I can see the pain is still there at times but my friend has made life work for her and she is content and well loved by friends, a kind and gentle husband, and family.