Every February 25th, I wake up sad, lethargic, and uninterested in participating in anything happening outside of my own silent room. On this day in 2003, an amazing girl named Melissa collapsed in her mid-twenties of a heart attack and died, and on that same day, my now 9 year old cousin Jules was born.
I had known Melissa for less than a year, but she was the most vibrant person I’d ever met. She was the kind of person who made you feel alive and your spirit refreshed after spending any amount of time with her. The first time I ever met her was at my housewarming party after moving into my row house in Fells Point, Baltimore. My friend Mark had recently started dating Melissa, and she bounced into my kitchen like we had been old friends. I gave her a tour of my place, and she was particularly excited to see my pictures taken on Wrightsville Beach with Katie Homes. Those pictures were taken one fortuitous afternoon when my roommate Carmen and I had decided to take our new cameras to the beach. As we were heading back to the car, we noticed Chris Klein and Katie Homes pulling into the lot, so we, as nonchalantly as we could, went back to the beach to giddily take more pictures. We plotted to casually act surprised when we ran into this famous couple as they were trying to fly a kite. To this day, I have no idea why we didn’t get pictures with Chris Klein, too.. The last stop of my home tour was my bookshelf. As Melissa leaned over to see my books on the lower shelves, I noticed a glimmer of her dangling necklace. When she straightened back up, that necklace rested on nearly translucent skin of her chest framed by her v-neck top. In that split second, I was frozen and washed over by a complete sadness, with the phrase “Her heart is fragile” rattling through my very core. She broke my thoughts by smiling and asked if she could borrow my Left Behind book. I told her she could have all of them if she wanted, and she laughed, taking just the first one.
Melissa had a heart attack on a basketball court the evening of February 25th. She had a congenital heart defect that was aggrivated by increased activity. Her whole life, she played sports competitively, and she loved playing them. The very thing that gave her joy cut her life short.
To this day, I ask God why I was given that insight into her heart. I feel guilty for not warning her somehow, or putting into use the knowledge that I was somehow allowed to know. But then I wonder what I actually could have done. I would have sounded like a lunatic, warning her of her ‘fragile heart’ just 30 minutes after meeting her. Regardless, the weight of that knowledge is almost too much to bear. Maybe that’s why my cousin was also born that same day.
The population is at equilibrium
The joy of one
and the sorrow of another.
How can nature’s opposing forces affect the same person
in one day?
The gift of life in the form of a child
and the snatching away of a budding life.
A mother rejoices
and another weeps.
A father overwhelmed
A lover deserted and lost.
The breath of life