NEW CASTLE —
But as Melissa continued to try to heal her physical being, things began to change in her personal life.
She and Josh started to drift apart and eventually decided to divorce.
“It’s sad about Josh and me,” she said. “People used to say that we were like Ross and Rachel from “Friends,” that we were just meant to be together and I will always be grateful to him for being there for me. But I think we just both had so much stress and other crap to deal with over the course of the past couple of years, we somehow pulled apart.
“You don’t realize it’s happening at first, but all of a sudden you wake up one day and realize that you need to go your separate ways.”
Josh continues to live in the Edinburg home with Baily, although Melissa said when the home is sold, Baily likely will remain with her. Since it was tough to work so closely with Josh, she has moved into a social work position with Jameson.
She was sent reeling further when her mother, Kathy Heitzenrater, was diagnosed with Stage 4 ovarian cancer in March at age 54.
“That has been tough,” she said. “She went through the whole chemotherapy thing and lost her hair like I did. I tried to be there for her like she was for me.”
Melissa’s straight hair has grown back into a mass of curls, just one more addition to a year of change.
In recent months, she reconnected with a friend, Justin Whitfield, with whom she had been close 10 years ago.
“I am trying to start over with all facets of my life,” she said. “Once you reconcile yourself to the fact that you can’t change things, you just move on. I hold my head up high and when I wake up, I smile every day.
“I think it’s just all part of a life lesson for me. And I think I will be better for it when I come out the other side.”