West being sweet with his Mom.

Happy birthday, Melissa

Yesterday was Melissa’s birthday. She had a full day, and I’m going to start the story with what happened last….

As Gigi and I were watching “Homeland” last night in the back of the house, we could hear four beautiful voices (and people) singing Melissa what we had sung to her earlier in the day – “Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you….” Four of Melissa’s caregivers, Miracle, who was scheduled to work, and Sam, Erin, and Bernadette had been sit...

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From Melissa's kid sister, Sarah:

Good morning everyone! When my daughter Grace was born Melissa and I grew close in a way we had never been before. I went to school to become a teacher ONLY because of Melissa. On her second visit with Grace (4 months) she changed my family's trajectory. I was feeling hopeless and helpless. My husband was struggling to make ends meet after we decided I would stay home. Our medical bills were rolling in (I was very high risk) and the loss of t...he additional income was requiring us to live off credit cards. Melissa suggested I go to school to better myself and better the chances of Grace being a college graduate. She suggested I could accomplish this by living off student loans. No, this is not ideal for most and I do not think she would recommend it to most people. But for us, it was the only option if I were ever to get a degree.

I did not even think Springfield had a community college! I was so hopeless I thought this was an impossible feat for me. I was not smart enough to go to college, so I thought. She was the smart one and I was the bad one. Melissa helped me navigate this. She called an advisor, made me an appointment for the next day and watched Grace while I took placement tests. We toured the campus and I had a tentative schedule to start in the spring. She left Missouri having changed my family's future completely. We are forever grateful for her belief in Mike and I. She was our biggest cheerleader! This only scratches the surface on how this visit transformed our lives.

Melissa brought Speckles out during this visit. Grace and Speckles became inseparable. This is a picture of Melissa and Grace on Grace's first birthday. Grace and Speckles were securely bonded by this point. The second is Speckles today. I walked into my daughters room and got Speckles out of her bed to take the picture. Grace still sleeps with Speckles every night. He still goes everywhere with Grace. Speckles looks pretty good for 16!

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