I love you, Melody Rust
I heard about Melody Rust for at least a year before I met her. At the time, I worked at the Carroll County News office in Berryville, while she was stationed in our Eureka Springs office. My boss would always brag about how talented she was. “Melody Rust is the best designer I’ve ever worked with,” he’d say. “There’s no competition.”
When I began working with her in 2016, I realized how right he was. Melody was the most talented artist I’ve ever met. She could make a boring newspaper bright. Her doodles looked professional. She sang beautifully. In every aspect of her life, she was an artist. We lost her on Thanksgiving Day last week, and I’ve been feeling like the world isn’t so bright anymore.
She wasn’t just the graphic designer I saw every day. She was my friend, one of my very best friends. I was promoted to associate editor of Carroll County News and Lovely County Citizen in March of 2016, and she embraced me from the beginning. One particularly hard day, I walked back to her desk and started rambling about how inadequate I felt. I couldn’t do anything good enough, I told her. I began crying.
“Do you need a hug?” she asked. She didn’t wait for my answer. Before I knew it, she had wrapped her arms around me. I’d been dealing with a lot of stress and anxiety, but I didn’t feel that when she hugged me. I felt at peace. From then on, we grew closer and closer.
She and her boyfriend Jason took me to White Street Walk that year, where I had a little too much wine and told her how much I loved getting to know her. I’ve always felt like a burden on people, like they don’t feel the same way I feel about them. But she quelled that immediately. She said she loved me and that she’d always be there for me, no matter what. She said I should never feel alone with her around.
And for the short year and a half I called her a friend, I never did feel alone. I couldn’t help but perk up when I saw her little white car zoom into the parking lot at work, because I knew she’d say something that would make me laugh. She was so funny and kind and warm. We shared so much together in so little time, something I will always be grateful for.
When I think of her, I’ll remember picking out cool rocks at the river, talking about the newest episode of Survivor on Thursday afternoons, eating tacos and cake and candy, playing card games with our families, carving pumpkins on the porch in October and sitting on that same porch a little over a month ago talking about the disappointments of the past and our hope for the future.
The last day I spent with her outside of work was Oct. 1, before she got sick and had to go to the hospital. I had just finished a long hike downtown with my husband when I called her.
“Want to go on an adventure?” I asked.
“Yeah!” she said.
We went to Beaver Lake and sat underneath the cliffs. She swam even though it was freezing. I watched her swim out for a while before floating on top of the water, her arms and legs spread apart as if she was making a snowman. She smiled so big with her eyes closed toward the sun. That’s how I’ll remember her: the kind of person who loved nature so much, she swam in October with a smile on her face.
On our way home, we talked about spirituality. She said she always felt connected to humanity when she was in nature, that the wind could feel like a hug if you think about it. I felt hopeful when she said that. She always made me feel hopeful and supported and brave.
I’ll never forget you, Melody Rust. I’ll keep spreading the kindness you showed me out into the world. Maybe then you’ll still be with me. You’ll still be with all of us.
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Samantha Jones is associate editor for Carroll County Newspapers. Her email address is Citizen.Editor.Eureka@gmail.com.