Melissa Grason's Journal
Life Goes On
Written Aug 12, 2013 9:36pmTomorrow will mark the first year since Melissa's passing. We are returning to California for a few days to see friends. It is ironic that we return there on the anniversary.
For those of you that still receive email notifications from this site, I wanted to take a minute to reach out to all that have followed our journey.
Much has changed in the past year. Marianne and I relocated to Florida last December to be closer to family. It was extremely hard to stay in California in the house where Melissa grew up. It was bitter sweet leaving our friends, but the decision has been a good one.
I will go into much more detail about all that has transpired in the past year in a later post, but I wanted to pen a short entry that some of you may see so we don't lose touch. I plan on setting up a website that celebrates Melissa's life so the impact on those she touched both in life and death may live on. I envision a place that allows both ourselves and those who visit the site to be able to share her story, photo's, videos, music and the philanthropic causes that we support in her name.
I hope this message finds all of you well and may God Bless.
Jim & Marianne
I will provide more info in the next post.
Eulogy for an Angel
Written Aug 19, 2012 12:26am
Marianne and I would like to thank all of the people that attended Melissa's service today. It was a fitting tribute to see hundreds of people adorned in pink attire that have been touched by our daughter. At the request of many, I am posting a copy of the Eulogy that I wrote which was so eloquently delivered by our friend Doug Kreuzberger. We hope that those who could not attend will find comfort and closure in these words.
Eulogy for an Angel
Melissa Louise Grason was born on a sunny day in Boca Raton, Florida on February 4th, 1994. The doctors knew immediately that she was born with Down Syndrome. Thus began a journey that most parents will never know.
On the side of her refrigerator is an aged and yellowed newspaper article held by magnets. It has adorned each kitchen since Melissa was an infant. It was published in 1993 by Erma Bombeck and called “The Special Mother.” It describes the qualities that a mother needs to raise a special needs child.
Most women become mothers by accident, some by choice, a few by social pressure and a couple by habit. This year over 100,000 women will become mothers of handicapped children. Did you ever wonder how these mothers are chosen? Somehow I visualize God hovering over Earth Selecting his instruments for propagation with great care and deliberation. As he observes, he instructs his angels to take notes in a giant ledger.
"Armstrong, Beth, son. Patron Saint, Matthew."
"Forrest, Marjorie, daughter. Patron Saint, Celia."
"Rutledge, Carrie, twins. Patron Saint...give her Gerard. He's used to profanity."
Finally he passes a name to an angel and smiles. "Give her a handicapped child." The angel is curious. "Why this one, God? She's so happy." "Exactly," smiles God. "Could I give a handicapped child a mother who knows no laughter? That would be cruel." "But does she have the patience?" asks the angel.
"I don't want her to have too much patience, or she'll drown in a sea of self-pity and despair. Once the shock and resentment wear off she'll handle it." "I watched her today. She has that sense of self and independence so rare and so necessary in a mother. You see, the child I'm going to give her has a world of its own. She has to make it live in her world, and that's not going to be easy."
"But Lord, I don't think she even believes in you." God smiles, "No matter, I can fix that. This one is perfect. She has just enough selfishness." The angel gasps, "Selfishness? Is that a virtue?" God nods. "If she can't separate herself from the child occasionally, she will never survive. Yes, here is a woman whom I will bless with a child less than perfect. She doesn't know it yet, but she is to be envied. She will never take for granted a spoken word. She will never consider a step ordinary.
When her child says momma for the first time, she will be witness to a miracle and know it. I will permit her to see clearly the things I see--ignorance, cruelty, prejudice--and allow her to rise above them. She will never be alone. I will be at her side every minute of every day of her life because she is doing my work as surely as she is here by my side."
"And what about her Patron Saint?" asks the angel, his pen poised in the air. God smiles. "A mirror will suffice."
It is said that the only constant in life is change, but throughout the years, Melissa remained the same. The petite little girl with the coarse voice always had the same sweet, sassy, strong-willed demeanor. How could such a small person show such giant strength? She exhibited the bravery of heroes as she fought her way through open heart surgery as an infant and cancer as an adult.
In the challenge to fit into a world that labeled her "different", she won the gold medal. Others would have lost patience and given up, or would have become bitter and angry. In her short time, she touched the hearts of so many and gave us all powerful lessons of life. She taught us how to live life to the fullest, love unconditionally and keep a sense of humor while dancing all the way. Maybe we are the ones that are “different” after all.
Jim and Marianne would like to thank you all for coming today. Many of you have been touched by Melissa either by knowing her or following her story. She was truly a remarkable human being. She lived life like any kid with the same hopes, dreams and desires. She was feisty, outspoken and at times demanding. She had a rich and sarcastic sense of humor. She was a joy and she was a challenge.
Melissa had Down Syndrome but it wasn’t her disability or her diagnosis that defined her. She loved music, she loved to dance and she loved to party. More importantly, she loved everyone around her. From the moment you met her, you never forgot her. She kept in touch with many through the wonders of modern social media. Melissa never lost her incredible zest for life or the unquenchable spirit of youth. For most, she had a nickname that usually involved food of some sort. Terms of endearment would often roll off her lips like “Taco Head”, “Chicken Nugget” and “Blueberry Butt”.
Living with and battling cancer is a brutal thing for both patient and family. Treatment is painful. Many weeks were spent in the hospital with nurses and doctors poking and prodding. Through it all, Melissa was an inspiration. When her parents grew weary, Melissa would give that mischievous look over her glasses and say “get over it.” She never lost her zeal for life.
Eventually, it became apparent the she would lose her battle and her parents were determined to give her the best that life had to offer in the time remaining. Melissa was always ready for the next adventure. She traveled extensively, spent a month at the beach, took ocean cruises, went to summer camp, rode a Harley, drove an Airboat, went surfing, parasailed, had sleep-overs and spent quality time with family and friends. After turning 18 this year, she quickly discovered the enjoyment of gambling with her mother. She made frequent trips to local casinos where she enjoyed playing the slots. Most recently she enjoyed a parade in her honor and was crowned “The Princess of Courage”.
She quietly slipped away from us with her parents at her side wearing a bridesmaid’s dress for a wedding that she would be unable to attend. She was feisty, beautiful, and loving to the end. No one could give a hug or a cuddle like Melissa. She left us stronger and more courageous because we experienced her. I’m sure she is now leading the dance team, getting her “groove on” and throwing food nicknames at God.
Melissa took the road less traveled. Only she could make such a large impact in such a short time. She has been called home due to a job “Well-Done”. When times are hard, we should all think of Melissa and say to ourselves "this too shall pass" and remember to dance!
Many of you received a text message last night that asked a single question. “When you think of Melissa, what words come to mind that best describe her?”
The responses were…..Affectionate, amazing, angelic, awesome, beautiful, carefree, caring, centered, charming, confident, cool, courageous, dancer, diva, elegant, elfin, endearing, fearless, fighter, friend, funny, genuine, honest, innocent, inspirational, irresistible, laughter, loving, loyal, mermaid, outgoing, playful, precious, princess, sassy, singing, spicy, spirited, spitfire, strong.
The number one answer was “Pink”. If anyone doubts this, simply look around you……
Melissa Grason Memorial Details
Written Aug 17, 2012 7:58pm
Marianne and I would like to thank all those who have followed us in this journey and shared their thoughts and prayers. Your Guestbook entries have been a source of inspiration and comfort. We will always cherish the memories of Melissa that you all have described.
We have decided to have a memorial service for the public at 1:30PM this Saturday at Blessed Kateri Catholic church:
22508 Copper Hill
Santa Clarita, CA 91350
We also would request in lieu of flowers the following options:
1.) A donation in Melissa Grason's name to Special Olympics Santa Clarita Valley
2.) A donation in Melissa Grason's name to the Michael Hoefflin Foundation for Children's Cancer
3.) A donation in Melissa Grason's name to suport her Caring Bridge website