Thankful for friendship
One year ago this week, Carroll County Newspapers lost an incredibly talented graphic designer and I lost one of the best friends I’ve ever had. Melody Rust embodied adventure. She taught those around her to pause every now and then to enjoy the moment, especially in nature — the river was her absolute favorite place in the world. She was never more herself than at the river.
I remember calling her up in March 2017 asking if she wanted to get out of town for a little while. She sounded so ecstatic, like there was nothing she’d rather do. She had a way of making people feel important. I drove over to pick her up and she suggested we go to the river. There was a spot she had never shown me before, she said.
When we got there, she pointed out all the spots where she had already made memories. She said she was excited to make more. She took off her orange sundress — the one she always wore — and I helped her tie her purple bikini top. That’s the outfit I saw her wear most. It’s burned into my memory, the image of her wading into the river in that bikini or lounging on the rocks in that sundress. She was at ease with the world, and that rubbed off on everyone around her.
That’s the thing about Melody: You never felt uncomfortable around her. Being around Melody was like waking up at 6 a.m. on Saturday morning and knowing you don’t have anywhere to be. It was that feeling of sinking into your pillow, pulling the comforter over your shoulders and sinking in. She was a sigh of relief. She was an act of unexpected kindness. She was the kind of friend I never thought I’d have, and she became the kind of friend I never wanted to lose.
Losing her on Thanksgiving Day feels especially brutal. That’s a day where we’re supposed to think of all the things we’re grateful for, but I have had a hard time being grateful lately. I suppose grief will do that to you. Grief has turned my life into a variety show. Sometimes I think about my old life with Melody and I laugh about our adventures, and other times I collapse into anger and despair. Reminiscing is a double-edged sword. It brings back good memories, but it also makes me think of everything I could have done to save her. I remember when she gave me a barrette with a dragonfly on it last August and wonder if that was her way of leaving something behind for me. I wonder if she knew how much time she had left with us. I wonder why life doesn’t give everyone a fair shake. If life were fair, Melody would still be here.
Unfortunately, I have to live in reality. When I first got the word Melody was gone, I thought about how I’d never see her white Subaru outside that little house on Pivot Rock Road again. I’d never hear her scream “OL-IV-ER!” at her rambunctious dog again. I’d have to live a whole year without her, I thought, and then another year after that. Melody saw into my soul. That’s an awful long time to be without her.
I wasn’t sure how I’d feel this Thanksgiving, the one-year anniversary of her death. But this is a time to give thanks, and I have so much to be thankful for. I am thankful for Melody’s loving family, especially her brother and his girlfriend. I am thankful for moving forward despite the pain. Most of all, I am thankful to have known Melody.
Her life was all about love, and that’s one thing that never dies.
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Samantha Jones is associate editor for Carroll County Newspapers. Her email address is Citizen.Editor.Eureka@gmail.com