Thursday, June 11, 2009

Melissa's Story

There is a project that I'm working on developing with a friend of mine and it made me think of something that happened last year.

I know that you each know that I work with Habitat for Humanity, but I'd like to share a touching, yet very somber story. It is one of those kinds of stories that gives you pause for consideration- makes you re-evaluate the blessings in your own life and it truly reminds you that life is too short to not make it worth while.

Last March 2008, we finished a home for a family of five. A family I knew well. In October 2008, my dear friend Melissa Pletcher, the mother of this family, passed away from severe heart complications. We had went to high school together. She was 27, married and had 3 boys under the age of 6. Her last transplant gave her exactly one more year with her family. I spent a few hours with her in her newly built home about two weeks before she passed away. It was a conversation that I'll never forget.

Below is an article I wrote in 2007, one year before her passing, about Melissa's trying ordeal. At the time, none of us involved thought for a moment that she wouldn't be with us today. But her story, it taught me some valueable lessons, and I hope that you each come away from reading it with something more in your hearts for life than you did before reading it.

Habitat Mother Survives Second Transplant
October 26, 2007
by April Gerard, The Post and Mail

One's faith in life is often tested in a variety of ways. They say that without pain, you will not appreciate what makes you happy. If that's true, then Melissa Pletcher has experienced enough pain to appreciate many lifetimes of happiness.
A current Habitat partner family's mother, Melissa Pletcher, has had a hard road to travel in life. She had a heart transplant three years ago at age 23 because she couldn't fully recover from an illness that led to total organ failure when she was pregnant with her last child.
Four weeks ago she was admitted into the cardiac intensive care unit at Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne. She was told she needed another heart transplant done.
After tears of frustration and admitted anger, she was placed once again on that ever long waiting list. After her admittance, her heart rate began to drop and led to yet another surgery to install a defibrillator to keep her going until a new heart could be found.
On September 29, Melissa recieved news that a new heart had been found, nearly ten days after being placed on the list. And so that night started her second transplant that couldn't have come at a better time.
Keep in mind that this is a young woman, only 26, with three children who are all under 5 years old. I went to high school with her and I admit that this is not easy for me.
When she and her husband came in to fill out the application, it was the first I'd seen her since the day I graduated.
No one should ever have to go through this, let alone twice in a lifetime. I'm learning a lot about the hard times people go through here at Habitat, but I don't think I'm prepared to let a childhood friend go, so I hope and pray God gives her a miracle, one that heals her on the inside emotionally and physically.
Melissa has a strength in her that I may never know or even come to understand. She's got an understanding of the reality the situation that astounds me, makes me literally want to cry because I can't fix her, can't tell her that she'll see her boys grow up.
So far, her health predicaments are what I call a rotten pile of luck and I'd like to help change that for her.
Its these sort of circumstances that make you realize how fragile and how short life can be. Apparently when you think on something you miss long enough, you realize its the pain of not having it there that makes you want it back more. I hope that Melissa pulls through this again, I think we would all like to see her have a chance at life the way its supposed to be- starting with a decent, affordable house to come home too and call her own.


Rikkij said...

April- a wonderful article! It's true, how fragile we really are and how we take it for granted. the heart is just one muscle with no back-up. Yikes. I hope the family is doing well and how wonderful they got the house. Kindness always changes us, I think. Thanks for yours. ~rick

Spaghetti Fields said...

I was just thinking about Melissa the other day. We used to get into fights because I was friends with her sister, too. Oh *sigh* To be young and not have worries except how much time you have with your frends...

I am still sad that I lost contact with her because we were always such good friends growing up.

I wanted to rekindle every freindship I had and let everyone know how much I really DO care for them, but life is life and it's not always possible.

I just reposted my myspace blog that I wrote about her a couple days ago...

I hope you know that even though we don't talk very much I still remember the notes we passed to each other (actually I'm sure I still have them).

My comment is starting to become a blog itself (sorry)... I think what you do with habitat is so wonderful, I really do. You're a strong and great person, I hope you know that!

findingmywingsinlife said...

The family is doing well, the father is doing a wonderful job of being single dad to 3 rambuctious boys. He is more than grateful for the house. In fact, that was Melissa's last wish- she wanted to make sure her husband and her boys had a decent place, even when she wouldn't be able to be there.

Spaghetti fields,
Don't apologize, you write whatever you want on here. And I thank you for being you- I think you are a pretty decent gal yourself.