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Her life as a window to God...

9/27/84 - 6/9/04

Melissa Bell Meisenhelder

Notes posted by friends and family that help us to remember how many lives she touched.

I only knew Melissa for about a year however, she became a very close friend in the short period of time that we knew each other. I’ll never forget her amazing smile… even if she was having the worst of days, you’d never know it as she always greeted me with a smile and a big hug! She never complained about what she was going through but wanted to listen to my minute problems instead. What was most amazing to me was the strong faith she had through her battle… and she was willing to accept whatever the outcome was. I wish that she was still with us today but I’m so thankful for the memories we shared. Can’t wait to see you again Melissa…

Liza Adams


Melissa taught me what life was all about. Our life here on earth revolves around our future life in Heaven. Most of us never fully grasp exactly what it means to "live like you were dying". Melissa of course had to live this way and found each new day as another chance to reach those who had not yet found God and His desire for a relationship with us. Thank you so much Melissa for everything you taught me and brought me through so that I may help continue you legacy here in this temporal place.

Jamison Van Dyke


It's hard to put anything into words about Melissa. She was an amazing girl--my best friend. It is sometimes frustrating to look around and realize that there is no one like her, and there never will be. Sometimes this makes me selfish and I just want her back. But at the same time I realize she is in a better place, and that I will see her again someday. She taught so much about faith, and helped me develop my own more fully. She helped me learn more about what true friendship means. I read letters she wrote me over and over, and not a day goes by that I do not think of her. She will always be in my heart. She has truly changed my life. I love you Melis

Leigh Sutcliffe


Words could never do Melissa justice. She had the most contagious laugh-- I smile as I know she is still laughing with me. Melissa's generosity, altruism and love were apparent in everything she embraced. Throughout our friendship, Melissa has taught me (and is still teaching me) incredible life lessons. Her devotion to God and love of life will never leave me. Her humble understanding of life’s true importance has ricocheted in my every ember. Her essence, her light is etched in my heart forever. She will be forever missed—yet comfort arises in knowing that one day we will all be reunited. I love you and miss you, Melissa.

Natalie Chassaigne


I once went out with Melissa, many moons ago. She was my first love. Overtime we drifted apart but I always thought of her and missed her. I still miss her to this day and wish I could of spent more time with her. I know she is up there reading what I'm writing and maybe even listening to my thoughts. A funny joke between us was when I came up with the nickname "miss america". She sure was miss america in my eyes. I send all my love to you up there Mel. Miss you and I will see you someday.

​Patrick Dean


If I force myself into honesty, the truth is I would rather not be writing this right now, and in doing so revisiting the fact that one of my closest friends has been missing from my (our) life for the larger part of the past two years. The pain and the memories are something I, and perhaps we all keep at a comfortable distance within our minds, only to resurface at the most unpredictable moments. Melissa's gone from this earth, and my life, and I move on, or try to, regardless of the pain. But the hurt means I loved her and that she loved me. So in the discomfort of my memories I am reminded of how important she was and still is, hopefully to all of us. From an intuitive point of view, Melissa had the strength in her eyes and her words that only a close relationship with the Lord can bring. Never faltering, never wavering, her humility and selflessness are a constant reminder to me of the true value of human life and of the true value of human relationship. My heart and my prayers go out to her family, in hopes that they will, if not already have found peace with the loss of a daughter and a sister. 
In danger of being too cliché, I have often found solace in these words from Abraham Lincoln. 
"I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved lost." 

Mark Imbriglio


"I'll be seeing you
In every lovely summer's day"

As many of the people that have signed before me, I truly will always have a place in my heart for Melissa. Her endless spirit lives with me when I think of her laugh that could be heard for miles or her smile that let you know just how much she thought you were crazy, but loved you anyway. Melissa and I crossed paths for many summers at Camp Deer Run in Alton, NH. She was one of my first true friends there and the times we spent with Liz Robertson and Mary Hudson will never be erased from my memory. I remember a time when Melissa and I were struggling with God's undying love and He taught us that summer just how much he cared for us. It's remarkable how the thought of her not being here holds such a void in so many people's hearts. It's amazing to hear her story, years later and to see the love she found- I can only hope for a connection she has: genuine, selfless and filled with love. 
Melissa: Thank you for making me see the way and for all the memories we shared. We had drifted apart but those summers spent with you were amazing- To our endless talks with Liz to your infectious laugh that I still hear. My thoughts go out to your close family and friends as I know they are still growing from all of this. I am smiling now, knowing you're with Him- just like you're smiling down at me...I'll be seeing you
MMM Forever

Meagan Jennings


Thinking about Melissa always brings a smile to my face. She was an amazing friend to me, and to many others as well - she still is. God continues to reveal to us His incredible gifts of love, joy, peace, and grace through her testimony. Like Leigh said, there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about her... I'm sure it's like that for most of us. As hard as it is to endure the pain of losing her, there is happiness to be found in that we will see her again. I am so thankful that the Lord brought Melissa into my life. Although the time we had was short, she impacted my life greatly, and I will carry those memories with me always.

Lauren Ferzoco


As you know, Melissa was an extra-ordinary young woman. We all worked hard and prayed hard for a different outcome. It was easy to be compassionate with Melissa. She brought such maturity, grace and kindness with her. She was also blessed with unusual beauty: some days it was impossible to believe she could have such a terrible illness. Thinking about her now brings tears to my eyes. I am so sorry for your loss and hope you and your family are otherwise well.

Nancy Tarbell, MD


Melissa made a small book for me about 3 months before she died. The cover of it said, "friends through thick and thin" and inside she put small photos of us and our friends, and cards with different Bible passages on them.

Having lived without Melissa for 2 years, I have an even greater understanding for her choice of words and photos than I did when she first presented me with this gift. In a lot of ways, this little book is symbolic of my friendship with Melissa and the relationship I continue to cultivate with her.

First, "friends through thick and thin" is the perfect title for this small present. While she was living, we certainly made it through some fun times and some tough times together. In the last 2 years, that has not changed. I feel Melissa with me every day- whether it's a good day or a bad day. I felt her friendship when I could be with her in the flesh and blood, and I still feel her friendship through a more spiritual medium.

The second message she included in the book says, "Your friendship keeps me going! Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves" (Romans 12:10). This passage was shared amongst our friends and was something that Melissa proudly passed onto us. She wanted us to know how much our friendship had helped her cope with cancer, and she also knew that our friendships with each other could help us get through hard times in the future. Although I miss Melissa deeply, her friendship does keep me going. Knowing that I had a friend like her, and that there is still somebody out there who's looking out for me, is a great comfort.

The third message says, "Have faith. Trust. Rest Assured. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him" (Romans 15:13). This seems to break down Melissa's faith into very simple terms. She found faith, she trusted in God, and she was able to rest assured. This simple transformation showed the rest of us how beautiful life can become when you turn your life over to God.

The next message reads, "If it matters to you, it matters to Him. Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you" (Peter 5:7). To me, by including this message in my book, Melissa was assuring me that even when I might feel like there is no one to listen to my troubles, God is always there. I used to share my thoughts and feelings with Melissa, and now that she's gone, I don't feel abandoned because of these words she left with me.

Next, "Two are better than one... if one falls down, his friend can help him up" (Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10). To me this emphasizes the importance of friendship in general. Melissa valued friendship very highly and showed the rest of us how to be selfless, considerate, and loving of all of our friends.

The next passage reads, "I thank my God every time I remember you" (Philippians 1:3). This Bible passage was particularly special for Melissa, as it was on the promise rings that she and Jamie shared. But it also is applicable to all of us who remember Melissa. I thank God that I even got the chance to know Melissa.

Lastly, "May the Lord watch between you and me when we are absent from one another" (Genesis 31:49). I think Melissa put this at the end so that I could understand that our time apart is only transitory, to reassure me that we would see each other again, and to comfort me that God would be with both of us during this time.

As we near the 2-year mark of Melissa's death, it seems harder because I simply miss her more. The more time I've spend without Melissa, the more I long for those days. But I know that she would want us to remember the happy times with her and celebrate the fact that we were lucky enough to know her at all.

Erica Staaterman


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