Always Melina

Today was tough I had that moment where I thought a year ago I was watching my baby die. I had never felt more helpless and hopeless in my whole life. Today I’m sitting at a softball game watching my oldest girl achieve. Watching her learn and grow. And watching her smile. How much can possibly change in a year. How did we make it almost a year without a third of my heart? How did we do this?
The only answer that I can feel is Melina. I survived because of her. I will also do it everyday forever for her. When Melina died that next day I looked at keith and said we can’t lose our family. Melina can’t be the reason we broke. Because Melina deserves better than that.
For a year we never let our Melina be an excuse. If there was a poor grade it wasn’t because my sister died. If there was a tough moment it wasn’t because we were grieving. We faced the things we had too because of Melina. Melina isn’t an excuse she is a reason. She is our reason. And she is our strength.
Melina was so much stronger than I will ever be. I’m forty and can’t comprehend death. Melina was four and had no fears. Melina’s tumor did not cause pain, however it did cause rapid physical decline. Melina’s tumor never affected her cognitively. Melina was aware of everything. I vowed to her that I didn’t want to live this life without her but I promised that as hard as it would be we would find Joy for her sisters.
See “Choose Joy”can sound like a cliche; something so easy. But there is so much more too it. Melina faced death at age four and did it with grace. Melina found Joy for the last 32 days of her life, as if it was simple. We didn’t find Joy but Melina did. I can see that now when I look back. Every stuffed animal she made us carry, every bossy direction she gave. She colored right up until she couldn’t, she swung a bat right up until she couldn’t stand. And she insisted on pedaling her bike when her legs couldn’t hold her anymore. Melina Chose Joy when she faced the scariest moments in her life. Everyday I have that choice too. Do I want to Choose Joy? Absolutely not. I want to live in my bed forever. But I have a choice as does Keith Klara and Emilea. We Choose Joy Because we had the greatest teacher in life. And Melina never failed. I will never fail her.
So when we say Choose Joy for Melina, or you wear her shirt, know it is a fight. And it is one that you can win. Because quite frankly we can’t choose anything that happens to us. But we can choose exactly how we are going to respond. And it took a four year old, who was so much wiser than her mom, to show me. Joy is a choice and one that I will always make. Everyday. Forever. I Choose Joy for Melina. 💚🌈💚