Hello to whoever is reading this right now. I usually spend a decent three hours to write. I split that time with a beer, or glass of wine in hand. Tonight is a little different. Tonight won’t be intricately thought out. I am using this post to be a diary instead of a story. 

1980-2014

Melanie Elizabeth Walker was 33 years old when she passed away. I had the honor to celebrate her life today.

Breanna Moreland is my best friend. Melanie Walker is Bre’s half-sister. 

I call Brea my sister and Bre calls me her sister. Bill, who is Bre’s father is like my father. A month ago Bill had told me that if I need anything to come to him because he claims that I am family

I arrived to the church today for Bre but I mainly came for Bill. In this circle of life, children are the ones who are supposed to “put their parents in the grave”, so to speak. Imagine being the parent and saying goodbye to your baby. I could not. 

I stood at the back of the church with tears in my eyes, waiting for everyone to be seated. I was watching Bre as she was walking to the front of the church. I didn’t want to intrude and sit with the family regarding the fact that I had met Melanie once in my life. 

All at once, I heard a man walk up behind me.

In the sweetest and kindest voice I heard Jim. “Hey, you.”

I turn around, smile and hug the man who is feeling the most pain. Here is a father, broken and torn. Hurt and confused. Here to sit and mourn for his baby girl. He still comes up, as sweet as ever and greets me. This is a man of selfless statures. This is a man who still looks to others, sees me, and greets me. How amazing, right? 

Then I see Melanie’s husband. He’s wearing jeans and a black t-shirt. The t-shirt has written four words across the sternum of his chest, “I love my wife.”

Pressure builds. Tears develop.

Then I see Melanie’s son who has to be 6 years old. He’s wearing jeans and a black t-shirt. In four words, across his sternum reads, “I love my mom.”

Pressure is broken. Tears fall. 

I look to find Bre, and I look to find Bre’s girlfriend, Christina, but they are too far to reach. I exit the church and the line is pack of people. There has to be close to a hundred people, all here for Melanie. Tears are falling off my cheeks and landing on my white chiffon blouse. I turn the corner of the cement walled church and call my friend, Jenna. 

I stood there forcing myself to breathe as I kept thinking that I am not strong enough to be there right now. Jenna, sweet Jenna is encouraging me to get my shit together and get back inside. That is exactly what I do. I check my make-up, curse myself for not wearing waterproof mascara and I head back to the sea of mourners. Bre, followed by Christina, and friend Amanda, are walking out  looking for Kavaii, Melanie’s 15 year old son. 

We find Kavaii, with his buddies, in the sea of humans, and help direct him inside the church. 

Kavaii is handsom and “looks like a Moreland”. He looks like his mamma and he is proudly wearing the shirt that reads, “I love my mom.”

I sit in between Bre and Bre’s counsin who was very kind and had a good sense of humor. We started talking and he said that he might say a few words but doesn’t know if he wants to speak. I told him that I think that he should. I was going to say that he will regret it if he doesn’t but no one wants to hear the word “regret” at a funeral service. I changed my choice of words and said, “I think you should speak, because after all, it is for you.” 

He bowed his head and nodded. At that point I prayed and little prayer asking Jesus to give him the strength he needs to speak. 

Kavaii sat in the row in front of me. He sat four people to my left. In a gross way, I was excited to know that I have direct views of the first born.  I enjoy watching people. It seems to be the best time to analyze someone, when they are crying. They are only focused on what they feel. I guess its only appropriate to reference John Green’s quote in The Fault in Our Stars, “thats the thing about pain. It demands to be felt.” Watching someone cry is enchanting because you feel their pain. Pain demands to be felt. 

Without a doubt, this was the hardest funeral that I have ever partaken in. I have been to funerals for those who lived a full life with excess amount of years. Melanie only got a portion of what others live to be. That is what stung so hard. The time that she could have had. The time with her boys as they grow. To see them graduate from different forms of education. To see them fall in love. To see them learn and make beautiful things. Her handsome son’s kept from my eye balls to being dry.

The ceremony ends and we are all standing at the front of the church. Guests are “paying their dues” by hugging the husband and family members of Mel’s. Not like I haven’t been a teary mess but what happens next is what gets me the hardest. 

Jim, standing with distress and pain on his face connects with Bre. She walks over and they just latch onto each other. He completely digs his head into her right shoulder. He had two daughters. He will always have two daughters. But he can only hug one. He can only cherish one of his baby girls. This was the most intense moment that I have had in weeks. As I watched him cry, I could feel ever level of his pain in my heart. I could feel him crumble more and more into Breanna’s body. She is so strong and so centered into holding her father up. They just stand and cry and ache at the emptiness of a lost sister, of a lost daughter. 

The man who greeted me with a tap on the shoulder and a witty “hey, you” is flawless in this moment. Pain never looked more beautiful. Pain never looked more pure, and love never looked so real. 

As I leave, after the dinner I get the chance to see Jim one last time. I say, “I’m heading out. Thank you for letting me come.” He say’s, “Danika you are such a beautiful person, thank you for being here.”

As I sit exhausted from my day, I think about how amazing this world it is that we live in. Sure it is broken. Sure people lie to loved ones all of the time. There is disease, disaster and corruption. We get to live each day regardless of the ugliness. It is our choice if we want to focus on the garbage of this world. Or we can acknowledge it, learn from it, and make something beautiful. Melanie fought cancer and taught her boys and everyone who knew her, how to live. I am so honored to have been touched by Melanie’s spirit today. I am so honored to have celebrated her short life with the ones who love her. 

However, I am so lucky to have witnessed the pain of a father and a daughter, as they were wrapped in each others arms. Pain demands feeling. Today it was felt. For the rest of my life, I will love Breanna because she is a woman that I owe so much to. For the rest of my life, I will love Jim because I hope that he can see me as a blessing of a daughter. I hope that he can, with confidence, say that he has three daughters, Danika, Breanna and Melanie.  

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