No one ever said it would be otherwise, but life on this side of Heaven is not fair. The longer I live, the more I realize how truly blessed I am, but I also find myself saying goodbye to more and more friends and loved ones all too frequently.
Over the past year or so, I have been one of many that have helplessly watched my dear friend Melinda Campanale Galiano contract and succumb to the insidious, dreaded disease of cancer. And it was just a bit more than a year ago that I watched another pass from the same thing.
I only knew Melinda for a brief time really, having only met her around three years ago. However, Melinda was one of those rare individuals that touched and impacted everyone; she was that missing element to everyone she came into contact with, and from the moment we met, we became part of each other’s inner circle of friends and got to know each other very well.
She was probably the strongest, most fearless, and giving woman I have ever had the privilege to know. Her undying patriotism and the hours she spent honoring our fallen military as a member of the Patriot Guard Riders, her endless support of Wreathes Across America, and her never ending generosity for those less fortunate are only a scant few of the things she will be remembered for.
We had started attending services together at Christ Fellowship Church on occasion and I remember the Saturday just near the end of last winter when she texted me to see if I was planning on attending the next day. I did, and we sat together with a few other friends, but she did something I didn’t expect.
We always sat in the front row, but on this occasion we were a couple of rows back, and when Pastor Todd was wrapping up his sermon, he ended with an 'Alter Call’ inviting all in attendance who had never invited Jesus into their lives to pray and come forward. Before I even realized that she had left her seat, I saw that Melinda was the first one standing in front of Pastor Todd. I’m pretty sure she was a believer in her heart before that, but as far as I know, that was the day she officially confessed and accepted Him. I still tear up every time I think of that day and moment.
From that day forward, with rare exception, we never missed a Sunday morning service together and a coffee afterwards in the Cafe. It was only about two months ago that she 'sealed the deal’ and was water baptized in a private event.
I know many of the 'Framily’ at Christ Fellowship Church, and I love them all…but it is never going to be the same anymore without Melinda. I know I’ll see her again on the other side in Eternity, and I’m happy she is now free of the pain of this world, but her going Home will leave an un-fillable void for many in this temporary existence.
I can only join countless others and offer my heartfelt sympathy to Gary and the entire Galiano family, and I pray that they can find peace and solace in the Loving Embrace of Jesus.
Rest in Peace Sweet Melinda, while Heaven is in for a rare treat, you are and will be missed terribly.