(I wrote this in advance, knowing this day was coming, yet wanted the final post to be from me.)
Dear Family and Friends,
When the first comments about starting my own blog were mentioned, I did not think much more about the subject–until the comments continued to happen from both friends back home in Colorado and new acquaintances here that were just learning of my story. “You should start a blog,” was most common to hear; only once did I hear it in the form of a question. I never knew how to respond. For starters, I did not know how to manage my own web page or even what I would write about, other than the health update entries for extended family and friends. My beginning days of writing viewed posts as more entertainment…but as my health started to change, so did my writings. I entered a new door in the social world through my blog—sharing my journey in the joys and pains was now so much more meaningful. It became my spiritual journal.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-2a reads, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die.” My journey here on Earth is complete. As you read this, your hearts may be saddened, angry or full of questions because I am no longer here with you. In your grieving, remember that in dying, I now live—freely and for all eternity. It is my prayer that you will come to know the same peace that God showed me, again and again, during the most painful times…times of chaos, confusion, and frustration. In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells His disciples, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world,” (16:33).
Anytime in my journey when more changes occurred and I had to face new challenges, I would sometimes sit and reflect on what God had done—His timing perfect for every need, protection, preparing me for the next step. The latter part was not always easy and it took me years from the first diagnosis to finally surrender everything. It was then that peace found a home in my heart…it was a source of strength when I was weary and a light of hope when all seemed lost. I did not ask to live a life with a terminal, rare disease. But I could never imagine living a full life without it.
Life is a gift. In my sufferings and darkest moments, there were times when I thought about Jesus…suffering and dying for my sins, your sins, the sin of the world. “I don’t know how He did it,” I told Mom through heavy sobs. We just sat in silence for a minute. But Jesus said to take heart…because He did not remain in death, but overcame it. He Lives! And it is the gift of Salvation that in suffering and dying, we live.
My dear family and friends…Thank you for walking alongside me during my journey. Your encouragement brightened my days and your prayers were daily answered. I want to encourage you now, as you continue your journey…remember to take heart and look to Jesus. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4
Melinda Sue “Mel” Pinkerton
March 8, 1988 – April 7, 2016 (Age 28)
Melinda S. Pinkerton died peacefully at Pristine Post-Acute Care in Jamestown, Ohio, on Thursday, April 7th, at 10:17 P.M. under the care of hospice. Melinda was surrounded in her final moments by her three sisters and her parents, and we take comfort that she knew all of her family was with her in the end. She had been diagnosed 14 years prior with Neurofibromatosis Type 2 (NF2), a disease for which there is currently no cure. In spite of her extensive physical struggles and many brain and spinal cord tumors, Melinda chose to live her life with purposeful intention. She filled her days with faith, friends, and fun.
Melinda was born on March 8, 1988 in Voorhees, New Jersey, to Cory and Bonnie McDaniel and two excited older sisters. Cory’s death preceded Melinda’s birth. Even as a child, Melinda was helpful and sweet and was always thinking of others. She could often be found in the kitchen helping her mom. Melinda had a love of music which started at a young age. Melinda played flute, piccolo, piano, and bass guitar. Later, as she lost her hearing due to her tumors, she expressed her love of music through sign language or by quoting lyrics to encourage herself and others.
In high school, Melinda was very involved in her church youth group and loved attending summer camps and mission trips. Melinda always struggled physically, but this did not stop her from being on the high school cross-country team. During her freshman year of high school, Melinda was diagnosed with NF2. Amazingly, Melinda continued to keep up with all of her school work and friends in spite of repeated rounds of radiation and extended stays at the Children’s Hospital in Denver.
Upon graduating from Monte Vista Senior High School, Colorado, in 2006, Melinda attended Colorado Christian University, Lakewood, Colorado. She has always referenced her years spent in Denver as “the best years of her life.” She majored in Business Administration, graduating a semester early while simultaneously receiving chemotherapy. What got her through hard and sick days was her unshakable faith in God, an incredible support system of friends, and the kids at “The Third Story,” an inner city ministry of Westside Church for underprivileged youth. One of Melinda’s dreams was to travel, but her constant treatments and health conditions made this difficult. She did fulfill a lifelong dream in 2010 when she was finally able to travel oversees and experience Greece.
Summer of 2011, Melinda moved with her parents from Colorado to Cedarville, Ohio. Melinda loved being closer geographically to a lot of her extended family. Melinda enjoyed many things about Ohio, however, she refused to assimilate to Ohio football culture, clinging determinedly to her ever-favorite team the Denver Broncos! Melinda’s favorite store was Target, and she worked there both in Denver and Beavercreek to support her love of fashion, coffee, and books. Shortly following the move, Melinda went fully deaf. As a way to cope especially with the loss of music, Melinda turned to painting as a creative outlet. She participated in local art shows, and loved giving away her paintings to friends and family as gifts. Also during this time, Melinda started a blog to share her journey and faith. This can be found at www.mylifewithnf2.com.
Eleven months prior to her death, Melinda’s health took an extreme turn which made it necessary for her to be moved to a nursing home. She was no longer able to walk due to her tumors, and she also lost her vision shortly after moving into the home. In spite of being wheelchair-bound, completely deaf, and fully blind, Melinda continued to paint, blog, and write letters. She dictated all of her messages, and a unique communication system was devised to allow her to keep in touch. Melinda loved entertaining visitors in her room and looked forward to daily visits from friends and family, especially her mom. Although Melinda sat in constant silence and darkness, she used her time to pray for those she loved, meditate on God’s word, and compose new letters, blog posts, and artwork in her mind. Many of her last art pieces were completed while totally blind. With the help of her aides, friends, and family, she was able to continue doing these special hobbies that she loved. She never lost her sense of humor. Even in the hours prior to her death, Melinda continued to think about others and make those in the room smile and laugh. Selflessly, Melinda donated her tumors to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to help further research to find a cure for others with NF2.
Melinda was preceded in death by her biological father, Cory Ian McDaniel, who passed away in 1987 from the same disease, NF2. She is survived by her loving mother Bonnie Sue Pinkerton, her devoted adoptive father Mark David Pinkerton, and her three sisters Melissa (David) Nickerson, Megan (Garrett) Slifer, and Marcia Pinkerton. She was a proud and adoring aunt to her young nephew, Landon Nickerson. She is also survived by all of her grandparents, Robert “Bob” and Mildred “Milly” McDaniel (paternal), Alton and Marilyn Flint (maternal), and Alfred and Lois Pinkerton (adoptive). Melinda also has a large extended family, all of whom she loved very dearly. Finally, Melinda leaves behind her loyal black cat “Muffy” who she had and loved for 12 years.
A celebratory memorial service will be held on Saturday, April 23rd, at 3:00 P.M. at Grace Baptist Church in Cedarville, Ohio. Visitation will take place from 1:30 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. A private graveside service will be held at Massies Creek Cemetery before the memorial. In lieu of flowers, Melinda requested that all donations and charitable gifts be split evenly between “The Children’s Tumor Foundation” and “The Third Story.” Donations will be handled by Powers-Kell Funeral Home in Jamestown, Ohio, at www.powerskell.com/notices/Melinda-Pinkerton.
As Melinda would say, “And that’s my story!”