by Maxine Pinson
Ten years ago it would have been disastrous
for my twelve-year-old daughter, Melissa, and me to have been left alone
in a dangerous place like a kitchen. No doubt about it, one of us
would have whopped the other one over the head with a frying pan within
a matter of moments. The only uncertainty was who would get the first
blow and who would win that day's battle.
If Melissa and I had to travel together, I
sat behind the wheel up-front, and she sat in the mini-van's way back yonder
spot. The tension between the two of us was so caustic that we would
not even sleep in the same room if we had to travel together. I would
pay extra just to have a wall between us. Whenever I was home with
Melissa alone at night, I slept with my bedroom door locked and a motion
detector on. She did not have to worry about me going up to her room.
It was such a disaster, I would not allow the exterminator to go into the
sty for two years. Melissa and Myra, her guinea pig, lived like two
little rats in a room that was knee-high with impossible-to-decipher stuff.
Five years ago, when Melissa was sixteen-years-old,
I no longer had to worry about what would happen if we were left alone
or daily battles. Melissa had become a teenage runaway. For
two-and-a-half horrendous years, we had no clue where she was. There
were times when we did not know if our daughter was dead or alive.
Both possibilities were real, and each was haunting. Meanwhile, my
husband, Bill, and I were facing another crisis. Our twenty-one year
old daughter, Celia, was dying of a rare form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
-- mycosis lungoides. There were days, during this time, when I was
convinced I had died and gone to hell. When I realized I was still
roaming planet Earth, I decided Hell would probably be like a five-diamond
resort in comparison. There were times when I wanted to die, prayed
to die, asked others to pray for me to die. It was just that bad.
I had neither the desire nor the energy for living a life that had become
More than anything in my life-to-date, Malyssa
represents, to me, the manifestation of hope fulfillment and answered prayer.
I am grateful that the many prayers (by me and so many others) for Malyssa's
safe return and restoration were answered; I am thankful the prayers (prayed
to a merciful God of love and grace) for my demise were unanswered.
Today I cannot imagine life without Malyssa,
and I look forward to our time together. Seldom does a day pass that
we do not see each other, chat by phone, or correspond by e-mail.
Without Malyssa's support, encouragement, sensitivity, intelligence, sense-of-humor,
keen eye-for-detail, affirmations, and confidence in my ability, Lowcountry
Delights simply would not be. I love you, 'lyssa!
In 1999, shortly before her twentieth birthday,
Melissa decided to change the spelling of her name to Malyssa.
I sensed her desire to adopt a new spelling of her name was a statement
of her "new" person she had become. I understood the message I felt
my daugher was trying to convey, and I respected her decision to do so.
The road Malyssa traveled was a difficult one, but I feel it has made her
a stronger and more compassionate human being. She has become a woman
I am proud to call "daughter" and "friend."