There are times in life when our hearts call out for the comforts of home.
The crackling of a campfire on a starry summer night; the warmth of new socks or pajamas right out of the dryer; the smell of home cooking when you walk in the door; and the healing power of being tightly wrapped up in a warm blanket.
Melanie’s love is tightly wrapped around everyone here today. Melanie’s world revolves around her family, and her friends. She loves us very much.
Today, we take pride in knowing that Melanie’s extraordinary life will never stop shining thanks to the warm and loving moments that we all personally shared with her.
As her neighbor and friend, I shared with Melanie the secret art of one-liners, quick-whit as well as her first official language, sarcasm.
Melanie had a lot of fun with my struggle to correctly express anything en francis, so we met each other in the middle through the language of sarcasm. Oh, and she was quite fluent in sarcasm, too.
I was always determined to someday impress Melanie with the proper touch of en francis in the conversations we shared.
My moment came. A dinner party at the Main’s and a crowded kitchen with her French speaking family — this was my stage to impress. I refreshed Melanie’s wine glass a little too quickly and a dribble of Merlot hit the counter top. Okay, I thought, here is my chance to impress everyone with my intuitive command of the French language.
“La Serviette!” I proudly presented.
Melanie looked at me with those deep brown sarcastic eyes and said, “napkin, the French word is napkin.”
Well, I tried.
Melanie and I also perfected the art of thoughtful, out-of-the-blue, text messages.
At any point throughout the day, I would simply text this message to Melanie:
I’m just sitting here thinking about you.
But, before she had a chance to reply, I quickly added: I’m also thinking about trout fishing, and turkey hunting…. but somewhere between turkey and trout, you’re kind of on my mind.
Melanie and I were a testament to the power of great friendships – that power gives us an ability to see through thinly veiled sarcasm and accurately read between the lines. Of course I was only thinking of her, and anything I could do to make her smile. Wise-cracks and one-liners were a conduit for caring conversation.
All of Melanie’s friendships were built on laughter and trust which made it possible to paint a picture of her smiling, even when we were miles apart.
We all have special memories of Melanie. When my mind paints special Melanie moments, I see her in some of the places that she loved the best: cheering on the boys from stands at the hockey arena or at the soccer fields, welcoming visitors at the Avalon Acres Sugar shack, tending the gardens and her vineyard, and preparing delicious meals in her kitchen. Melanie’s culinary skills are unmatched by anyone else we know. She is truly a very gifted cook.
Melanie poured her heart into raising a family, and she always made her friends feel like we were part of it.
As Tom reminded me, Melanie was very private. She preferred “look at my family” over “look at me” and her humbleness and down to earth style are the virtues that drew our hearts so close to hers. Although Melanie was very private, there are many things about her that are no mystery. Let’s start with the obvious.
Melanie is absolutely beautiful. With a smile that can lift a dark cloud off a mountain top, and eyes that could re-ignite the sun, Melanie’s natural beauty is as timeless, classic and true as her beauty within.
I shall be saying this with a sigh;
Somewhere, ages and age hence,
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost supports a metaphor about Melanie’s journey to Ontario from her home province of Quebec. She fell in love with an Ontario boy, and she traveled west to make their dreams come true. And come true they did. A storybook wedding, countryside lifestyle, sunny vacations, a wonderful job and great co-workers, a special circle of friends, and most importantly, two beautiful boys… Noah and Gabriel.
The love of Tom and Melanie is the world’s greatest example of companionship and romance, partnership and independence, strength and devotion. Tom and Melanie’s chemistry was endlessly transparent. And, we can admit it…. we all loved catching Tom and Melanie holding hands or going extra steps to steal an extra kiss. It’s like they freeze-framed a first date kiss, and then made it more meaningful and magnetic every day forward. They reminded us that love is always worth reaching out for. As family and friends, we love them both for being so in love with each other.
We also love them for bringing to our lives, Noah and Gabriel, two very special boys that Melanie loves forever. Melanie said, “Everything is for my children. Everything is for my children.”
Close your eyes and think of a calendar that only flips backwards in time, and it only reaches back the past 16 months. As we scroll through recent times of treatment and tenacity, battle and bravery, we salute Melanie’s heroic commitment to try to beat this. She said “everything is for my children” and to prove it, Melanie never stopped fighting.
In the clearing stands a boxer
And a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders
Of ev’ry glove that laid him down
And cut him til he cried out
In his anger and his shame
“I am leaving, I am leaving”
But the fighter still remains.
Melanie’s legacy is the fighter that still remains. She chose action over apathy. She never slowed down for sympathy because she was too focused on the pursuit of hope. As Tom said, “I wouldn’t expect anything less of her.”
Melanie always stayed positive. She never said enough is enough. She never backed down. She just kept smiling. Melanie made us so proud.
In the words of Bono, “The less you know the more you believe.”
Believe is exactly what Melanie did. And the more she believed, the more we believed. “Everything is for my children,” she said, and we cherish Melanie’s reasons to believe, as well.
From Quebec to British Columbia, Melanie’s courage has united her family and friends, as well as her co-workers and a great community of coaches, and teachers, and entire families of children who play hockey or soccer or go to school with her boys. Melanie is once again bringing out our personal best.
Small town values never go out of style and down-to-earth generosity always prevails. Together, we are embracing everything that Melanie taught us about empathy and kindness.
You can see it, you can feel it… Melanie’s gift of kindness lives on in her home where, everyday, support from family and friends comes pouring in. Melanie’s example of sweetness and sincerity lives on at our local hockey arena, on the school bus and in the school yard where children, on there own sweet initiative, are expressing condolences and a desire to be supportive friends. Online, you can also sense the expression of her love where Facebook tributes to Melanie serve to commemorate her place in our hearts.
In the midst of his own fight, Gord Downie Jr. recently talked about how he can see it, how he can feel it… there’s something happening… an opportunity here, he said. Facing our future guided by Melanie’s gift of courage, and her pursuit of hope, is precisely the opportunity Gord Downie is talking about — an opportunity already paved by our very own superstar.
There are times in life when our hearts call out for the comforts of home. This is one of them.
It’s time for home cooking. It’s time for a favorite song. It’s time for the warmth of a fire, the company of family and friends, and comfort of being wrapped up in a soft, warm blanket.
On Thanksgiving weekend, I wrapped a warm blanket around my friend Melanie. I told her, “I love you” and she said “I love you, too.”
Today, Melanie is wrapping a blanket around all of us. She will forever be the warmth and comfort in our hearts that makes us feel at home.
We love you forever, Melanie.