The aisles were littered with various cans of energy drinks and bottles of water. Underneath the seats were crumpled notes and dog-eared textbooks. In the classroom sat 200 students, slouched in their seats wearing everything from sweatpants to five inch high heels. They chewed on pencils, stared at the ceiling for inspiration and furrowed their brows.
It was that time of year again, the time of final exams. I was helping a friend administer the final for her class, a large introductory media course that I had also taught a few years prior. As a seasoned part-time lecturer on a college campus, I knew the drill well: pass out exams, look for people possibly cheating and clarify the test questions.
This time I had something else on my mind as I strolled around the lecture hall. I was thinking about a person that I have never met. A person that never had the chance to sit in a classroom like this. A person that was gone from this earth all too quickly. I was thinking about Melissa. She could have easily been one of these students, who were mostly sophomores or juniors. A student sure of their future or trying to find their place on campus or in life. What classes would she have enjoyed? How would she have made her mark?
I wondered if any of these students were suffering in silence. I wondered if any of these students had a roommate, a friend, a family member with an eating disorder. I wondered how many could be helped by hearing Melissa’s story.
As I scanned across the classroom, I began to see Melissa in the students. A person that I never had the opportunity to meet, but whose life lives on. I thought about all who struggle with ED but make it through another day because of Melissa. I thought about all those who have seen the film and said “this is my story too.” I thought about the impact that Judy has made by speaking out about this disease that is silenced too often.
Melissa never had the opportunity to be in a class like this, but her spirit is in everything that we do at Someday Melissa. She has touched countless lives, even those who have not yet heard her story. After hearing about Melissa, you will see her face and hear her story in others. I know that I do.