Thursday, February 16, 2012

We will continue to live, laugh, love, & share!

Melinda's legacy will certainly live on in so many of her family and friends. We will continue to post under melindayoung.blogspot.com. There will surely be many wonderful stories to share, one of which you will read shortly.

We would also like to extend our deepest and most sincere gratitude to each of you for your caring and generosity. Your prayers, well wishes, and selfless acts have lifted us in so many different ways. While there are no words sufficient to express how grateful we truly are, please know that we intend to pay these many blessings forward to others in need.

The following occurred during Melinda's final days and over the course of a few days after her passing. This is just a sample of some of the amazing things we witnessed and shared over these precious days.


MELINDA'S MIRACLES (Story 1)

To say Melinda was an inspiring and courageous person is like telling someone that Michelangelo was a great artist. Yes, the statement is certainly true, but there is so much more beyond just that. The amazing things that so many people were able to witness and experience as a result of her are nearly countless. To have the privilege of knowing, loving, and sharing a life with her was the most precious gift many of us ever received. During her final days a few astonishing things occurred that we must call nothing short of miraculous. We would now like to share some of these moments.

Once the doctors explained to us that Melinda’s condition was such that she would unlikely pull through, we shared the news with her and she understood. Fear, confusion, anger, sorrow, and many more emotions were felt. As the gravity of the situation sunk in, Melinda knew she had to continue to be strong for her amazing daughters and family. She spent her last days and hours making the most of every moment. She also knew that she needed to take care of a few things.

She would never want us to be burdened with the task and details of putting her to rest. One afternoon as she lay in her hospital bed unable to speak through her mask, she requested pen and paper. Her thoughts and questions began to pour on to the pages. “How will I die?” “How long?”, “What about the funeral?”, “Where?”, “Don’t leave me alone!”, “Stay together!”, and more. As husband and wife, and soul mates, we experienced an incredible level of intimacy during this time. We also mutually focused on our faith, precious daughters, and family.

After collecting her thoughts, Melinda began to share her wishes. Just her and I were alone in the room at the time. Deep expressions of our love and admiration for one another were given and then she began planning as she had done so many times before. However, this time it was her funeral. The first question was about the flowers. She quickly wrote, in big bold letters, “YELLOW!” Next was the casket, and she wrote “CHERRY!” Then it was where to be buried, the details of the service, the headstone, etc. Ultimately, she wanted to ensure that her uplifting and positive spirit would be shared and celebrated during this time.

She passed on a Wednesday. She went peacefully surrounded by an abundance of loved ones. The loss of someone so close and so incredible was difficult for many to accept. However, we had to summon our strength and pull together to help get through this time. With Melinda’s spirit, strength, and example to draw upon, we were able to do just that.

Most of the details for the funeral were realized and thoughts of how the next several days would unfold began to enter our minds. Melinda had always been the one to make sure all the arrangements of an event were taken care of. She loved to coordinate all the pieces and envision a way to make it memorable for everyone. The ability to do this successfully was one of her many great talents. So as we contemplated the details of the days ahead, we feared nothing because Melinda had once again taken care of everything. She, however, had a few special surprises to add this time. The miracles and memories we experienced leading up to and during these days will live with us forever. The following is just one of those.


“A Special Gift For Her Daughters

The girls were still out with family picking out their dresses for the viewing and funeral. I had returned to an empty house and sat down to collect my thoughts. The next couple of days were going to be extremely difficult, and I knew I had to think of our precious children and continue to find ways to lift their spirits. Mommy would have certainly wanted that.

Just a short time before, I was at the cemetery picking out the plot. I had visited the previous day and noticed a gentle hill sloping down to a pond much like behind our home. That area of the cemetery looked full, but I prayed that somehow something would be available for us there. As I stood in the office, a nice lady showed me a map of the grounds and explained that the majority of available plots lay in an area much further away than I had hoped. I asked about the area near the pond and she paused and said she had to go check something. She quickly returned and said that she had one potentially available in that area. There was a woman who had received a plot from her family but she recently moved to a different state and no longer wanted it. The lady explained she would have to contact her to confirm, but we could go ahead and take a look at it. We drove down near the pond and then walked to the plot. Our home sits almost exactly the same distance from our own pond and I knew immediately this was meant to be her resting place. The lady asked if I’d like to see anything else and I instantly and politely responded, “no!” We returned to the office and she called the owner. As she explained that she had a buyer, the owner burst into tears. Evidently, she had recently come upon hard times and desperately needed the money. God was looking out for all of us during this time! I filled out the necessary paperwork and secured the plot.

Back home on the couch, I grabbed the laptop and looked up the weather forecast. I noticed that for Friday, the day of the viewing, it was supposed to be warm and sunny. They were also calling for a nearly 100% chance of rain on Saturday, the day of the funeral. I wanted to make sure that our girl’s first memory of where their Mommy would be buried was positive and uplifting. So I told myself that I would find time on Friday to show them where she would be resting.

That evening as we poured through the many picture albums that Melinda had created over the years; I noticed that the girls had pulled out a particular page. The pictures were of us and the girls riding and enjoying horses. A few years earlier, we often took day trips to a near by horse barn and pasture looked after by Melinda’s cousin and family. They owned several horses there and we would spend the day riding, grooming, and tending to them. Melinda was always fascinated and loved spending time with horses. She obviously made a point to have some pictures taken to preserve the memory. The girls became focused on this particular page for several minutes as they recalled the times we all had there together.

I knew that things were going to be on a tight schedule and that my window of opportunity would be limited to visit the cemetery. I decided that I would take the girls over following the first viewing. The sun would still be up and it should be warm enough to spend a few minutes if they wished.

The first viewing session went well. Many family and friends came to pay their respects and the girls maintained an amazing attitude. I had told them earlier in the day that we would visit the cemetery and they were actually excited. We took a few moments to catch our breath and grab a small bite to eat before heading over to see the plot. The weather was as predicted, sunny and moderately warm with a slight breeze.

The cemetery was just a short five-minute drive. As we pulled into Sawnee Gardens, the girls immediately noticed the hardwood trees very similar to the ones in our neighborhood. They also commented on all the pretty flowers and quickly noticed the pond in the distance. I was already feeling relieved. We pulled up near the plot and I walked the girls over. They noticed geese and ducks wading in the pond just like we have behind our home. We finally arrived at the plot and I asked the girls if they were happy with this spot for Mommy. They both emphatically replied, “Yes!” Rachel Rose then asked if we could go down and see the geese and ducks. I, of course, said yes and they trotted down as I walked behind. The breeze began to pick up a bit and the air felt noticeably cooler. After just a few short minutes Caroline, shivering, asked if we could go back to the car. Rachel Rose agreed and we began to head in that direction. Caroline was about ten steps ahead of me and Rachel Rose just a few when I heard a sudden gasp. Caroline suddenly took off in a full sprint, then I heard another yell and Rachel Rose was now off and running behind Caroline. As I watched them, puzzled, my gaze drifted from the girls and in to the distance. I was amazed at what I witnessed.

Several hundred yards from where we were, sits a beautiful pasture. Along the fence-line walking towards the girls were two magnificent horses similar to the ones we had ridden with Melinda. I watched in awe as the horses made their way down towards the girls as they sprinted towards them. I quickly hopped in the car and drove down to meet them. I will never forget the image of those horses and the girls. When they finally made it to each other, the horses gently leaned over the fence and allowed the girls to stroke them. I had rarely seen the girls that excited and happy in recent months. The horses remained by the girls until we had to return to the funeral home. I was able to grab the camera and snap a few photos. Someday soon we will create a photo album of our own.

Melinda’s presence was confirmed to us at that moment. The fact that two horses appeared just at that instant and in such a tender way is undeniable proof to us that she will always be there.
The future is unknown and we may not always be able to “pet the horses”, but there is great comfort in know
ing that we will be there for one another when we need it most and that God is always present. GOD IS GOOD!!!!!

6 comments:

Alisha Dawn Samples said...

John,
Thank you SO much for posting this. I'm so happy you will carry on this blog so we can continue to see how you and the girls are doing and how we can continue to pray for you. Your post was so soothing. What an amazing story and gift that experience was. You and the girls and the rest of the family continue to be in our prayers daily. My two little ones continue to pray for Caroline and Rachel Rose every night when they say their prayers. They've seen their pictures since they were little. I will share this story with Alyssa, my 9yo. She just wept for you all when I shared Melinda's passing with her. We had prayed for her together so often. Alyssa loves horses and she will love this story. Please give everyone my love. Praying for you...~Alisha

DJ said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you. As I am still immobile, you are constantly on my mind. Your well-being is our constant prayer. I know that soon you will face going back to work and that decisions will be made for that time. I will be more than happy to fill in as needed to assist you in the care of the girls. Even though Melinda is gone from us here, I know she would want us all to continue to help you and the girls in any way you may need. Count us all on your side to help. Don't be afraid to ask for help. At first it may seem overwhelming to do so, but your friends want to help and don't always know how. We don't want to meddle, but we do want to do whatever is needed. Grief is a strange thing and everyone handles it differently. Thus, call us when you need us, so that we don't intrude on your private grief. And don't be upset when we interrupt your privacy with questions as to how we can help. We love you and the girls so much and are always here to help. You are always in our prayers. Debra

Haley D. said...

Thank you for continuing to keep Melinda's spirit alive here! John, you and the girls remain in my family's prayers. Everyone I know "knows" you guys, so there are many, many prayers continuing to come your way. We are still here for you and the girls. The service was very touching, and her final resting spot is indeed beautiful.

Anonymous said...

John,
I am very glad to see your post. Your positive attitude will help your beutiful daughters heal and grow to be healthy positive women that Melinda will be proud of.
Wishing you the very best and good luck in future.

Amanda said...

John,
Thank you so much for continuing the post. It good to hear amazing stories that can come out of trying times. You are right, God is Good, even though sometimes it is hard to say because we don't understand. The Spirit and Melinda was there with y'all that day at the cemetery. God works in mysterious ways, to which we may never understand. He will always send constant reminders to your family and others of her amazing life. Thanks again for the stories. It lifts the sorrowful heart! Y'all are constantly in my prayers and thoughts, Melinda too.
Amanda Hamilton

Anonymous said...

What a neat story about the horses. After my grandpa passed away (at age 100) he came to my mom in a dream. He was young again, like he was in his thirties or so... how my mom remembered him when she was a child. He was so youthful and full of vigor. My mom was in a boat, near the edge of the water, and my grandfather nudged the boat, and told her, "I'll see you on the other side..." and pushed the boat with my mom in it into the water. She knew in an instant that he was in God's kingdom. There were many times, in his last days that he prayed over and over with my mom, and accepted Jesus as his Savior. When my mom awoke, she realized that his presence in her dream was God's way of reassuring her that he was O.K. now, and that someday my mom would see him again. God bless you and keep you in the true faith as you go on in life. Thank you for sharing of yourself.

~ Kim