meet Melissa

The Murrell Family live in Palmerston North, New Zealand.

Josie is the proud mother of

Lisa, 33

Paul, 29

Anthony, 23

Matthew, 18

and Melissa

Melissa was born on 28th April, 1988 with Full Trisomy 18

Sadly she passed away on 2 December 1997, aged 9 1/2 years.

In Josie's own words:

Melissa was a special gift from God. Within hours of her birth, deep concerns were voiced due to indications that she had Trisomy 18. We were all determined to give Mel a chance.

The only power we had was love, heaps of love, lots of touching, lots of prayers and constant hope. We had her baptised at the hospital and then took her home to love and cherish.

Each day she presented us with new challenges, especially regarding her feeding. For all the time I have cared for Melissa this has always been my biggest challenge, it upset me the most, it was the way I measured the success or failure of my day, and it was the one thing that caused the most heartache. Yet somehow we coped.

At 4 months she was gravely ill with a pneumonia like illness. Through this terrible fortnight again we prayed, had her anointed with oil and she was never left on her own. We constantly touched her and loved her. Through all this she struggled desperately to stay with us and when I saw that she had survived against all odds I turned to the window to hide my tears of relief, and outside there was the most wonderful sight of a rainbow.

Again that symbol of hope was there for me. From that day on, the rainbow has been a very important part of our life, on many a dull day we have been reminded of God's love for us and it has generated a new energy and hope in difficult times.

Melissa Helen achieved heaps in her short life, things we were told she'd never do, things that to us were so special, things like sitting up alone, playing ball and loving the interaction, riding her bicycle, enjoying banana and caramel custards, swimming at Makino, evening walks, Sunday drives, using her computer, horse riding at the Brickworks and listening to music, learning to stand and walk. She was dangerous, crashing into the piano, squashing a care giver, running over a niece when trialling the motorised wheelchair but we had lots of laughs, lots of fun and we fulfilled some dreams.

Living with a child with such a disabling condition is traumatic for a family and I believe we all managed so well. I have no regrets, I did all I could. At the same time I need to say there is a very large gap where medically fragile children like Melissa fall and this gap needs to be filled.

We didn't want to fight. However the system was ungenerous and to get even some of our needs met, my energy was being used in constant battles. In fact the last 3 weeks were the most relaxed we ever had together, strange really a holiday for two in hospital but I was supported. It was wonderful to be supported.

A family needs support - we needed to know that support was constant and consistent. It wasn't. This past year Melissa had grown so much, she needed lots of support and wanted more from life. With more support she could have had it.

As a family we have all been blessed.

I have been privileged to be able to be there for her and meet her needs.

She will always be a part of me.

Ride free, little one.

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