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Every once in a while I meet someone whose personality just overflows with warmth, and kindness. That person is definitely Melissa Phelps, who is an office assistant and scheduler for the Clovis Community Hospital radiology department. Melissa likes jalapeños, pastrami sandwiches, and country music. She has a twin sister Patrice, a beautiful three-year-old son Lane, and is an expert Starbucks barista. One of her dreams is to hike Kilimanjaro some day with the love of her life- her husband Josh.
“How did you meet Josh?” I asked as we munched on Subway sandwiches on a cool and rainy Saturday in February. “Well,” she said, “we met by chance at Big Hat Days 12 years ago.” Now Big Hat Days is no small event in Clovis. More than 140,000 people attend every year, so clearly it had to be a chance meeting. As her story unfolded though, I changed my mind. She and Josh were playing the part of Matt Damon and Emily Blunt in the movie “The Adjustment Bureau.” Their love was destiny.
“We were wandering through the large crowd of people, when my aunt and sister called me over to meet a guy,” she said. Her eyes sparkled and she paused to take a breath before continuing. “Josh said hello and I instantly knew I liked him,” she said. “He was just so comfortable to be around. He is so handsome and I loved his voice,” she added. “He denies it, but he kind of sounds like he has a Southern accent.” Josh, who works for his father, pulled out a business card and wrote his phone number on the back. “It’s 12 years later,” Melissa said, “and I still have that card.” This isn’t the only piece of writing from Josh that she keeps.
Over the next several weeks they talked almost daily wanting to know everything about one another. It was in those conversations that the universe collided and she discovered some interesting facts. Josh had actually grown up in a house directly across the street from her grandmother. When he proposed ten months later and they were reviewing the wedding list with his parents, she discovered that one of her best friends was actually Josh’s cousin and that they had stayed in their family cabin on multiple occasions.
Nine months after meeting, they were visiting her parents when Josh secretly took her father aside to request permission to marry her. “He wanted to do it right,” she said with a smile. A week later, Josh bent down on one knee in front of the stone fireplace at the Shaver Lake cabin, and asked “Will you marry me?” We chose the song “Keeper of the Stars” by Tracy Byrd for our first dance, she said. “This song was written for us. The lyrics are about two people who were meant for one another.” At this point I put down my sandwich and could feel a catch in my throat. I also noticed that the two Subway girls behind the counter were eavesdropping and one of them had gone to get a Kleenex.
Melissa and Josh were married on May 25, 2002 and every day for the past 12 years he has written her notes telling her how much he loves her. Melissa has kept every one of these love letters – all 4,380 of them. Only now there are more. Josh writes notes to their three-year-old son Lane too. “Sometimes he’s just so kind,” she said. “He left me a note that said, ’Thanks for doing the dishes last night. I know you were so tired. I really appreciate it. Love Josh’.”
Listening to Melissa it struck me how profound it is to read the written expression of someone’s love. My mind floated back to a line I had memorized from a love letter written by Ronnie to Nancy Reagan. It said: “I live in a permanent Christmas because God gave me you.”
When Josh and Melissa wanted to start a family, they had a difficult time and tried for several years. “I just kept thinking to myself, if it’s meant to be, it will happen,” she said. They talked about adoption but eventually decided to go through intrauterine insemination (IUI). On the day they were supposed to get the results of the blood test, Josh stayed home from work and both of them nervously puttered around the house when they realized a call had gone to voice mail. The call back was worth it though. “I was hysterical with joy,” Mellissa said. “Josh cried too and we both kept saying - ‘this is real, this is real’.
Our Mission is Love
When I reflect on what it takes to deliver on our mission of providing the absolute best healthcare to all of our patients, I know that it is made possible because of the love and compassion of special people like Melissa. Thank you Melissa for sharing your lovely story.
Happy Valentine’s Day to our entire CMC family! If you would like to share a love note that you received or one that you wish you could write, please reply below.