Beautiful, caring, hurting, loving mother
Melissa put a creative spin on everything she did. She decorated for every holiday, made great desserts and cookies and unique Halloween costumes. The last party Melissa gave for her daughter, Amber’s birthday included beautiful decorations, fun activities and a special limo ride.
Melissa was an amazing friend and a remarkable single mom to Amber, who was just 8 years old when Melissa died. They did arts and crafts together and Melissa worked hard to make Amber feel special and well-loved.
Melissa loved hard rock music and was fantastic at math. Sharon said she would have been a great accountant. She was also talented in dancing and the violin and had an online Etsy business selling decals she created. She eventually wanted to get married and have a secure home life with a loving husband. Melissa also envisioned building her Etsy business and moving up in the company where she worked as an administrator.
But Melissa often felt she wasn’t good enough. She had tough teenage years, spending time in a residential program getting treatment for drug and alcohol misuse. She credited the time in rehab for saving her life and she maintained her sobriety until the last three years. When she started using drugs again, she withdrew from her family and got demoted at work. She passed away of an accidental overdose from what she thought was Cocaine, but turned out to be pure Fentanyl.
Her best friend Meghan stated, “She was loyal and always knew how to cheer me up or talk me through a hard time. She was my best friend. No one will replace her.” Her cousin Emma said: “Her death tore me apart. I miss everything about Melissa. I miss her quiet comfort, I miss her apartment with its purple bathtub from dyeing her hair, I miss her long swinging ponytail, and her glitter filled carpet from crafting. I miss her addiction to Starbucks and Diet Coke and how she loved Olaf from the move Frozen and I miss my niece, Amber.
Melissa’s mother Terri said she misses Melissa’s scent, her long beautiful hair, her brilliant smile and her giggly, fun and sparkling personality. Sharon says, “I appreciate the little things more, you realize life is not promised. I also don’t get to see Amber since she moved out of state to live with her dad.”
These last lines are from a poem that Melissa wrote in her senior year of high school and seem to sum up Melissa’s view on life. “You only have today, you make your life to be what it is, it’s all up to you. Life is a beautiful thing to live. “
Melissa’s grandmother, Sharon Sandstrom, provided the information for this narrative with input from her mother, Terri, Melissa’s cousin Emma, and her best friend Meghan.
October 26, 1986–September 21, 2018
Age 32–Lived with addiction during her teen years and for last 3 years of her life.