In Memory of Melissa
In the Spring of 1982 a somewhat shy 13 year old boy was gearing up for his first Spring Dance. He decided to ask a friend -a fellow 13 year old girl to go with him, and she accepted. He felt out of his league-wanting to impress and do all the things boys his age would do to win the favor of a date. He knew to be polite and treat girls like young ladies, and he wanted to do it all just right. His mom brought him to pick her up-his nerves worked up as he got out of the car. He asked for help pinning on the corsage, and then they were on their way. The dance was fun, even relaxed… and the night ended on a good note. And although neither was interested in “dating for real” after that dance, it was still a poignant moment in that young man’s life.
The young man was me, and the date was an attractive young woman with an amazingly outgoing personality named Melissa Duke. After the 8th grade we did not go to the same high school. In fact, I never saw her again after that…..A phone call with one of my best friends brought her memory back to me.
“This whole Melissa Duke thing still has me messed up,” my friend Steve said. I had NO idea what had happened three weeks before.
Melissa Duke Mooney passed away at the age of 41 on February 18. It was sudden. And she had not been ill until her last hours. Her Facebook page showed two beautiful little girls walking side by side-her daughters. I then Googled and found the obituary and began to read about the life of a woman I had not known for 27 years. As I read on I saw You Tube videos of her singing on stage, and saw that she was publishing a book. And in a strange moment I caught myself reconnecting with someone who I could not actually reconnect with at all….because she had passed on.
And although I did not know her at all in my adult life, I began to grieve…. for her…for her family. I asked “Why?”
Melissa was not only the first “dance date” I ever had. She was also the first peer of mine to pass away at this age. And for someone whom I did not know at all beyond 1982, I still grieve for her passing. And grieve for her husband and family in Nashville that must move on without her…and grieve for two little girls who have lost their mom in their youngest of years.
Sometimes the smallest moments in time leave the largest impressions on us…..I felt a loss of someone who I shared only a blink in time with…
I’ll close now…it’s getting tougher to read the screen. My prayers go out to the Mooney family tonight.