Neil’s Tribute To Melanie

Below is the tribute for Melanie that I gave at her Memorial Service. I wrote it with the intention that it be shared for anyone to read. I’m adding some of my favorite photos of her.

Mel’s Tribute

It’s not easy being up here, as you could imagine. But, as with anything else difficult that I had to do for Melanie, I would just ask myself “would she do it for me?”

I began writing this weeks ago, mostly because I am a procrastinator. Mel would always poke fun at me for that. But also because it’s been so hard to find the right words. I’ve been preparing for this day for 9 years; to be standing in front of hundreds of family and friends, struggling to say the right words.

While Mel was initially diagnosed in 2010, it was January 2015 (9 years ago this week) when the cancer returned and had spread; this is when we first heard the words “incurable” and “terminal”, this is when her fight truly began. Melanie lived with cancer for over 13 years. Almost one third of her life… more than half of our marriage. We shared the same feelings about using the word “battle” when someone dies of a terminal disease. Battle implies that both sides have a chance in the fight. She said that cancer is a beast and does not fight fair. My opinion is that cancer is a thief that has stolen from us.

Cancer stole a friend:

Look around this room and you can see just how loved Mel was. In our community… if you did not know her, you knew someone who did, and there was no one who did not like Mel. She was always there for not only her friends, but also for strangers that needed some encouragement and support in their own cancer journey.

Cancer stole a cousin:

I loved how much she loved her cousins, something I’ve never had. She always thought of them as bonus siblings.

Cancer stole an aunt:

Mel loved her nephews and nieces like they were her own children. It was clear that they all loved her back just as much.

Cancer stole a sister:

I have brothers and sisters, by blood and marriage, that have lost their sister. I don’t know what that must feel like. Mel was very close to her brothers, talking to them regularly. She was also close to their wives… and probably talked to them even more often.

Cancer stole a daughter:

I have a mother-in-law and father-in-law that have lost their daughter. I cannot imagine what that must feel like. No parent should have to know that feeling.

Cancer stole a mom:

I have a son that has lost his mother. She told me her greatest sadness was that Brody would not have her anymore; not have his mom. With Brody, she found her purpose in being the best mom possible. I can only hope that he knows that her love for him was endless. I will always have a piece of Mel within Brody; I always see her in those smiling eyes.

I have a daughter that lost her bonus mom. When she first met Lauren, Mel was all-in. She loved her as if she were her own daughter. They had such a special bond that only grew stronger over the years.

In her last moments I know that she was thinking of her kids. She made sure that I convinced Brody to not be in the room. He was being so brave by sitting with me beside her, but I knew Mel would not want him to witness her final moments. And she waited for Lauren to arrive, so that she could say her goodbyes… and to be there for me.

Cancer stole a grandmother:

I have a 15 month old grandson that will likely never remember his Lola, other than through the stories we tell and the photos and videos of her. Lauren offered “Lola” to be Melanie’s grandma-name. Mel loved it and didn’t hesitate to take it.

There was nothing else that made her light up with joy like Beckham (our little “Beef”), especially in her last few days. In fact, when I first looked at her phone for pictures, I tapped on the Photos app and it opened up to a picture of Beck. The last photo that she looked at was of her precious grand-baby.

Cancer stole my person:

How can I even begin to explain our love? I can use so many words … but one word keeps floating to the top. EASY. It was so easy to love Melanie. After she passed, a friend of ours told me that years ago when he was having relationship trouble, Mel said to him “loving someone should not be that hard”. I kept thinking about that after hearing it, and I never realized until then that she was so easy to love. I can only hope that I was half as easy to love. I think I was since she stuck with me.

But one thing that cancer stole that upsets me most… is that cancer stole the rest of her life, from her:

Everything that she had wanted to do. All of the events and milestones in the rest of our lives that she won’t get to be a part of. We will be there to experience it, but she doesn’t get to have that. That really saddens me.

Putting together the slideshow was a labor of love. There were lots of smiles and laughs while searching for photos, and equal amounts of tears. This past week while looking through her phone for photos, I found a goofy selfie she took in the car that made me actually laugh out loud. I had the urge to send it to the family, she’d want me to share it. This photo will not be in the slideshow, I told Lauren that Mel would find a way to hurt me if I included it.

Later that day while stopped at a light with Brody, I asked if he’d seen the photo I sent. He looked at it and also laughed… and zoomed in trying to figure out where she was when she took it. He said “looks like she was at Peyton and Chino Ave”. Sitting in the driveway I checked the GPS on the photo. Brody was right… Mel was stopped at Peyton and Chino. She was at the same exact location, going the same direction as we just were minutes before, right when I asked him to look at the photo.

I told him that this was a message from her for us… telling us that she is with us. I also think it was a message just for me; a way for her to give me something to add to this speech, to get me to finish up and stop procrastinating.

I felt so comforted in that thought, and we’ll have to hold on to that comfort knowing that she’s always with us… in our hearts forever and always.

She is the tear that hangs inside my soul forever.





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