One thing that Melody wanted to do before she died was go fishing. The only edible fish potentially biting in February were steelhead. We knew that she probably only had two days left when she would have enough strength to even step into the boat. Her dad spent the first day we arrived going to great effort to arrange things. None of the outfitter boats were going out. Fish and Game had closed a fish ladder down river, so it wasn’t possible for steelhead to migrate up to our location. Those that had gotten through earlier were well past us, up river. Finally, a friend of my dad’s said he would take them the next day. Melody’s dad, older brother, and grandfather went.
I have often discussed miracles with my children. We have pondered that if miracles happened all the time, they wouldn’t be regarded as special. To prove the point, one could spend countless hours listing “daily miracles” such as seed germination or the phenomena of music. If something unexpected, or even prayed for, does happen, people are quick to relegate it as coincidence. That fishing day was a miracle. Melody caught three large steelhead. One of them seemed to follow the fishing line into the boat without even being attached to the hook! All three were caught within a couple of hours. The boat owner was inspired to go out again the next day, but fished for seven hours without a bite. God had reminded us of His personal love and attention to the details of our lives.
(Melody and Ben)
(Melody on her 13th birthday a year earlier)
Melody died on March 2, 2003 while I was holding her hand. She was three weeks shy of 14 years old. Her father, nearly all of her siblings, and my parents were able to be at her bedside. She had been delusional for a few days, but tried to sing her favorite hymn with us up until the last few moments. Oxygen was being administered, but as she was struggling her father gently and quietly told her she could take it off if she wanted to. She reached up and removed the nose prongs. The death rattle began, but she showed no signs of distress. She peacefully exited her body as we continued to sing softly. I let go of the hand. It was no longer Melody.
If someone has experienced that kind of grief, they probably know what I began to feel at that moment. The term heartbreak is overused, but how else does one describe the sensation that your chest might split open and it hurts to breath? It’s not a physical problem, yet it burns and is crushing. All at once there was relief that her suffering was over and agony at her being so obviously gone. It was the soberest of reminders that no one escapes certain truths and there is no real hope after death without Jesus Christ, the only Son of and Way to God.
After a couple of weeks, the other children presented me with a special gift: Melody had bequeathed me all of the money in her savings account. She had also asked each of her other siblings to donate a small amount. This money was supposed to fund the pet we had talked about me getting one day. It wasn’t a large amount, but I was so humbled that they had all been thinking of me. The gift was set aside in a special savings account until it seemed like a better time to pursue that dream.
(to be continued) part 5