I stare down at my phone, puzzled by the text. Activity swirls around me as I stand in my good friend Michelle Melland’s kitchen. I check the sender’s name and slowly turn around. Michelle ’88 lies eight feet away in a hospital bed, breathing through a tube inserted into a hole in her trachea and connected to a nearby ventilator.
We’re all proud of our success stories, but our defeats make us who we are.
Michelle Melland ’88 is propped up in a hospital bed in the master suite off the kitchen of her two-story house in Kansas City, Missouri. Her eyes light up as I walk into the bedroom, and then she dissolves into tears. I maneuver around the bed and medical equipment to give her an awkward hug hello, which she can’t return because of the paralysis throughout her body due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.