Melissa’s Obituary

Posted: March 3, 2013 in Breast Cancer, Spiritual/Emotional/Energetic
Tags: , ,

This is John, Melissa’s husband, and I apologize to you for not writing sooner. I think, at the moment, I’m o.k., so I’ll start to tell you some more stories of Melissa. Well, my first step should be an obituary, right, since an obituary, as defined by Merriam-Webster as, “a notice of a person’s death usually with a short biographical account.” On this forum, Erika took care of the first part of that definition very soon after Melissa’s passing. However, the second part of the definition put me in a bit of a quagmire for quite a while. If you knew Melissa either in person or online, you know there is nothing “short” about Melissa’s accomplishments or impact on other people’s lives. So, there will be no obituary since her life was a very colorful, long journey and if you really want to try and get to know her, then take the time to read through her stories posted on this website or countless blog entries or replies to blog inquiries. Reading several paragraphs about Melissa’s life is not only inadequate but really an insult to her ever so impactful life. Her brother Lee, wrote a very beautiful story a little while before Melissa passed and I read it to her. We both balled and I had to pause and catch my breath so many times while reading it to her that she started to get frustrated with me. I even read Melissa the majority of the comments to Lee’s post, and one stands out in my head. The comment was such, to Melissa,  that sounded like she had already died. So, Melissa being Melissa, had me post back “I’m not dead yet,” or something close to that. Those were her words and how she lived life. So you can start with Lee’s story and work your way back, if you haven’t already done so. Sorry, I’m not trying to piss anybody off or put obituary writers out of business, it is just the way it has to be. In the near future, I’ll be posting more stories about Melissa, maybe not just her last few weeks, but other memories of her, too.

I do need your feedback though, and although I’m not running a democracy–so majority may not win–but all input will be heart-fully considered. Some of the stories of Melissa’s passing could be somewhat disturbing and graphic, but I am more than willing to put on filters where appropriate or, in other words, turn down the rating. I have two opinions so far and they represent the two extremes, polar opposites. One side is to tell every graphic detail of Melissa’s death and suffering (i.e. like Farrah Fawcett in her final production said to keep filming, don’t stop even while I’m puking, or a fairly recent photo display of a photographer’s Stage IV wife and very candid and graphic pictures were included—so graphic that the photos were taken down). The other extreme represents a more serene approach and it does resonate with me, too. Any cancer patient, especially Stage IV cancer patients, do NOT need to hear these painful details. They are living with their own fears, pain, suffering, doubt, and countless other things a person without such diagnosis cannot fully comprehend and they should only hear and only need to hear hope and inspiration. Melissa knew that, and that’s why she did not write much here during her final few months. In her perspective, there was not much inspirational and hopeful things to write about. And, I want you to know, that she applied that filter to virtually every word she published. So, maybe the answer is somewhere in the middle, but I just want to hear from you if you have an opinion. If you do not, no biggie. Which ever way the pendulum falls, I want these stories to be real for you, but most importantly, be the real Melissa.

  1. Brigitte the Swiss Miss says:

    John, first of all I send you my deepest apologies! It makes me so sad, that Melissa and I had no change in December (that dran blizzard) to see each other…. I promised her to come in June…

    So I would say do whatever Melissa would have done… Which way you choose, you have to know I love her!!!!

  2. william haggerty says:

    Dear John, I am indeed glad to know that, difficult as it must be, at least “for the moment” you are ok! From what I learned from Melissa, you are quite some man, a true partner and blessing to her.Although sadness and loss are the dreadful part of your relationship, I can only imagine how rich the good parts must have been. With that thought in mind, recording LizzardLee’s story I think must be weighed much heavier on joy than tears!Even the dreadful paths she had to take should reflect her grace and strength and stubbornness in meeting each challenge.Who she was, who she continues to be for all time will be reflected in the spirit she evidenced when her days were filled with sheer delicious delights in all she loved, and in the most trying times one could envision.Suffering is all too much a part of this thing called life…How we deal with it and find our way though is what separates Masters from novices! In that effort is where we discover role-models and heroes! I thank you for all you have been and done…and for continuing to keep her light burning! “Rachael” from F2F (aka Emily Haggerty)

    Date: Sun, 3 Mar 2013 18:31:19 +0000 To:

  3. Carole Berlin says:

    Hi, John,

    I love it that you recognize and acknowledge that Melissa can’t be summed up in an obituary. By all means, keep your stories coming. And as to how graphic to be — your own instincts will tell you.

    You’ll find the way that feels most natural to you, and it won’t be either too graphic or falsely ‘pleasant’ as long as you tell the plain truth in your own way, in your own rhythms, as though you were riding slowly through terrain you love and describing what you see for the sake of those who’ll soon be at that turn in the trail themselves.

    I’m certain that those who’ve never taken care of a dying loved-one will benefit from what you’ve learned, if you’ll share it honestly, so please don’t try to soft-pedal everything or offer only hope. Hope is good, but it runs out. When there is no more hope, then it’s time to learn recognition, acceptance, appreciation –and the chance to say goodbye. To deny that that someone is dying is to do them a great disservice. You’ve learned how it feels when a loved one is sliding away from you and there’s nothing you can do to bring them back. You know how it feels when you finally accept that someone’s going to die. I think those who haven’t yet walked in your shoes will need to know what you’ve learned. It can help them later, down the road.

    I wouldn’t worry about how graphic or not-graphic to be, because you’ll always strike the right note when you’re just telling the truth without trying to make it smaller or larger or better or worse than it was. Just … talk to us.

    It’ll be good to ‘see’ Melissa at her happiest and healthiest, to see her through your eyes , but it will also be good in a different way to be with her at this last journey.

    Your posts will make the world a better place. I hope writing them will make your own loss easier, your own heart a little lighter. I, for one, will be reading your posts with as much interest, respect, and affection as I read Melissa’s.

    With all my heart, Carole Berlin, from the old Amazon listserv and the current Breast Cancer Study and Support

    >Melissa Buhmeyer posted: “This is John, >Melissa’s husband, and I apologize to you for >not writing sooner. I think, at the moment, >I’m o.k., so I’ll start to tell you some >more stories of Melissa. Well, my first step >should be an obituary, right, since an obituary, as defined by Me” >

  4. Jan Fasano says:

    Dearest John, I think you alread know in your heart which way Melissia would have you post on her beautiful blog. Inspiration is what Mel always did for us. I knew her thru WebMD breast cancer support board back in ’05 and have followed her blog. She has been and will always be an Inspiration. She was a “True Warrior” in every sense of the word. I pray you are doing well.

  5. Lee Patton says:

    Well John you and Erika have done a pretty good job already! I like the drift of where you are going with this, and believe it to be important to us family, her friends, and yourself. Lizzard used her energy to describe what she believed to be important for others to know about fighting this disease, and her efforts were monumental. If I were diagnosed with a disease so cunning and dreadful, I would read her blog page to page just as a primer on where to get started, and with what, and with who.

    In my little piece from a while back, I wanted folks to see Melissa from a perspective that she didn’t deliberately show (although it leaked through anyway) because I think that she wanted to keep the focus on the enemy, not on how talented and beautiful and strong she was or what her life before disease was like. I tried to introduce the little girl standing and fighting right behind the sick woman.

    That was historical. Only you truly knew her as a grown woman, before, during, and now it is after, her illness, only you knew that part, and only you can tell it, During all of those years Lizzard was the center of gravity, all of those people in her life, healers, physicians, nurses, con artists, her readers here, her friends, her counselors,,, everyone for the most part concentrating on the topic at hand, the sick person. Our Lizzard. Standing just out of view in the frame of that picture, (look, you can almost see him. just there. just over there in the shadows) stands a man. He was her love. He was her hero. He was her husband. He was her partner. He was her caregiver. His name is John.

    For many sick folks, there is that someone, a husband, a wife, a sibling, somebody who will stay in their corner and help them up and encourage them and just be quiet and listen and well, someone who will stay in the fight with them to the end, whatever that may be. The list is really endless isn’t it? And there is a lot more to it, isn’t there?

    If I were the partner of someone like Lizzard, and learned along with them that they had a catastrophic illness, I can imagine the only reaction after the shock, dread, and fear, would be much the same as the “identified victim”…Oh, Oh, Oh God what do I do? There are sick people everywhere who have a support system and/or a partner and they intend to see it through, but they have no idea what to expect or what it is like or what to do. Well, I know someone who understands a lot about that, and it is you John. So even if I weren’t the sick one, I would read LIzzard’s blog all the way through as well, and particularly the parts that you could add.

    Even if we (the readers) never hear another word from you, there could be a lesson just in even that silence. Maybe it is better to grieve and walk away? Let what you can go? I don’t know. Not many people do. But you do.

    For all people who suffer cancer, and for all people who love them, hearing about your life and your years with your wife would add a depth of understanding and a guide of “What to do’s and what not to do’s” as well as a realistic end to the story of a journey.

    Even as one of her Brothers, even I do not know what those years were like, the good and the bad, in the middle of a sick night or enjoying a movie together in good times. I would like to.

    I believe that Lizzard would want it that way but in the end John, do what is most healing for you. It is your turn my Brother.

    Lee Patton aka the failed obituary writer. (For all that don’t know, John asked if I would want to write an obituary) and I realized “Me? Say anything in just a few words?” It can’t be done.

    John and all of you, take good care of your good selves in the short time that it takes for our souls to pass through here.

  6. Tina Nance says:

    John, I am so sorry to hear about Melissa. I pray you and Erica are holding up okay.
    I would say that Melissa was feisty, full of life, and full of love. We all know the physical horrors of cancer and how it ravages the body. Unless she was set on making her journey a documentary I would keep it full of feistiness, life and love (and maybe a ton of other stuff that Melissa represented). Blessings to you.

  7. Cindy says:

    Dearest John and Erika. I am sorry I haven’t responded to you earlier. I knew you and your family wanted an intimate gathering. On my birthday (jan 29th) when I heard about Melissa being in the hospital with brain tumor/bleed, it was very difficult for me as it brought back the memories of my best friend, Kathy’s last few days. I prayed and felt the pain you all must have been going through. I have been thinking about you often and have done my fair share of crying. I then tried to find an address which I couldn’t find and your phone number John. I only had Mellissa’s! Then we went out of town. Anyway, everytime I am at the barn with the horses I think of Melissa and Kathy. I know how much they both loved horses as much as I do. The horses were their therapy as they are mine! I loved talking with Melissa about the gaited horses….she was so passionate and I loved it! I am so glad we were able to spend some time together when you came to the house and to see the barn. I look back at the times at Vandenberg stables when we all first met.

    I personally do not need to know any of the details of Melissa’s last week. I totally am aware of the painful suffering you all endured. Now, she has no more pain or suffering. It is for those of us who remain that have to deal with the pain and grief of loosing Melissa, such an inspirational, strong-willed, passionate, loving person. We all know what a fighter she was! God puts people in my life to direct my journey. Melissa taught me alot and I thank God for her and your frienship. I am glad she is at peace now. I will miss her and reading her wonderful blogs which really described her journey and all the emotions attached.

    When the time is right for you John and Erika, I would like to get together. Also, can you please send me your address?

    Much love to both of you
    Cindy 337-4496

  8. John, having been a widower once, and having my second wife being diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer, I can more than relate. Try this, write two stories. One for the caregivers if they feel they need to know the details, and one for the patients who are struggling, and let them choose… See if that resonates with you.

    One allows you to be honest.. maybe even brutal about it…the other allows you to see the days when things went well, and life was more forgiving.

    But above all, follow what your heart says… I am sure that in some way, Melissa will help you with it..

  9. Francine says:

    Please share whatever you feel comfortable with. I love Melissa’s blog and when she shared on the cancercured forum.

  10. joyfulsunrise says:

    Dear John,

    I honor your grief and Melissa’s brilliant, brave life ~ This is, of course, a decision only you can make ~ we who have been followers reach out to you with love and hope.

    Write it all down for yourself ~ and if at that time it feels as if it can be shared ~ it may be a way for you to come to peace at some point ~ it does come ~ it takes a while~ the emptiness feels endless ~ the most important part is you do not want her to be forgotten~ for as the world around you goes on ~ it all seems heartless to you ~ Which ever you choose will be the right way ~ Melissa was public to all of us~ and we are grateful for her strength ~ her courage ~ her thoughtfulness ~

    and her ongoing grace ~

    May you be guided to follow your heart ~ Love and blessings, josie / joyfulsunrise


  11. Dianne says:

    Dear John, What do we need to hear? In my opinion ,whatever you want to share or think she would want you to share. Most importantly now is that you have time to rest, heal and reflect on on the life of your dear wife. Grieving is hard work and time does not heal . It only desreases the pain little bits at a time. My husband is gone now 5 months,and I still cry every time I remember how sweet he was to me, even while suffering. You will need your friends and family to stay close and fill up the empty hours you would have spent with Melissa. She spoke so highly of you and even mentioned not knowing what she would ever do if you went before her. She loved you and her life and was always willing to help others. You were blessed to have each other. I pray that God will provide you with comfort and strength as you mourn your wife’s passing! Warmly, Dianne

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