Melanie was my cousin—more like my sister. We were “M&M” from birth, only a year and a half apart. Today is her birthday, and it has been 30 years since a celebration included her. Melanie and her fiancé, John, were shot to death by a jealous acquaintance in 1990. She was 21. The violence of this loss has never left me, her brother or her father, and many others. Grief is sneaky, fickle and follows no rules, especially with time. Especially with gun violence.
I want to say something to make her alive again. Her giggle still lives beneath the surface of my skin. I feel and hear the bubbling of that goofy laughter with warmth and joy and playfulness. I can see her face. Her pretty smile with an edge of naughtiness. She was the leader, the braver one. Our togetherness was salty and feisty, loud and fun, honest and true. She was smart. Aced the ACT. She ran fast. Track medal fast. She loved animals: Patches, her dog. The horses. The cat. She loved me, even when I couldn’t be brave. I do brave things in her name. I miss her. M&M forever.