Prayerfully Speaking

Hope from the Truths of God's Word

Celebrating Life, Dealing with Death

Melissa, aka "YaYa 1"

Meet Melissa (Mel) Scallan, one of my dearest friends. She’s a newspaper reporter, a football fanatic and a “YaYa”.  Melissa, Beth, Tami and I are all “YaYa” to each other. You know, friends to the end who have and will be there for all of life’s celebrations and tragedies.  We discovered this name in the movie, The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood, and claimed it.

Tragedy struck again when Mel’s niece, Kristin Leonard, was recently killed. I asked Melissa to share the story of her sweet and sparky Kristin with me and you. Death is hard. This one has been down right horrific. But we can learn from it. God uses it to show himself, and draw us to him, to inspire us to live.  I hope Kristin’s story does all of those for you.

from Melissa…………

I wracked my brain for days trying to remember the day my niece Kristin was born. Finally, driving down the road recently, I remembered. It was March 9, 1981, and my mother called my junior high school to tell me that my sister and brother-in-law had a baby girl.

I cried tears of happiness that day because I welcomed my godchild into this world.

You see, it was important for me to remember that day because I certainly won’t ever forget the day she died – July 22, 2010 – a life so full of promise cut short, not by God’s hand, but by someone else’s.

Kristin Leonard

Kristin was a determined, focused child almost from the day she was born. She always made good grades and seemed to know from elementary school that she wanted to be a nurse.

She graduated from nursing school at Southeastern Louisiana University in December 2004. It was very cold that day, and I could tell she was nervous, which was unlike Kristin. She always was so sure of herself and her decisions. Not that she wasn’t this time, but after being in school since age 5, she was about to embark on her career.

And in usual Kristin fashion, she immediately began planning her next career move. She worked in the burn unit for awhile in Baton Rouge, as well as in intensive care, receiving her critical care nursing certificate.

Kristin was passionate about everything – she didn’t do anything halfway. Whether she was caring for a patient or one of her beloved animals, she gave it her all. She was opinionated and fiery and didn’t mind telling anybody what she thought -whether or not they asked. And I don’t ever remember her apologizing for the way she felt.

She loved animals almost more than people and had a variety of cats and even mice – she saved a mouse once from being fed to a snake and took it to the vet when she claimed “Mickey” wasn’t eating. She loved others’ pets as much as her own, giving all the family dogs plenty of hugs and kisses.

One of the things I’ll remember most is her laugh – more of a giggle – but so infectious. Those who know her always will remember that laugh.

When it came to family and friends, she had a soft spot and would do anything for them. In a small way, it was that generosity that took her from us so soon. Kristin moved to Shreveport, La. In the summer of 2007 to be with her boyfriend, who had been accepted at LSU Medical School.

She loved Shreveport and made many friends there, so when her and her boyfriend broke up in the summer of 2009, Kristin stayed in Shreveport. She decided to further her career by applying for the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist Program at Texas Wesleyan University. The panel was so impressed that they told her she was accepted at her interview – which is highly unusual.

That was in February of this year, and she immediately began making preparing – studying, taking online courses and of course, saving her money since she wouldn’t be able to work for more than two years. She talked to me about it and said the thought of being without a job for that long scared her. I told her to think of it as an investment. “It’s an investment I’ll have to pay back,” she quipped.

About that time, Kristin began rediscovering her Catholic faith, reading the Bible every day and brushing up on Catholicism. She said it was because she worked at a Catholic hospital, Christus Schumpert, and got questions often about why Catholics do and believe certain things.

I believed her, but I also think God was preparing her for what was to come. She wrote on Facebook the week that she died that she couldn’t believe she only had a few more shifts at the hospital. That was truer than we could have imagined.

It was on that hot July day that the person Kristin had moved away from her family and friends for decided she would no longer be here with us. I don’t think she suffered; I certainly hope not.

I cried tears of sadness that day and for most days since because of the hole that’s been left in all of our lives.

I know she would tell us to move on, to pursue our hopes and dreams like she did. And to be kind to the animals – always be kind to the animals.

I also know she is with God and our other family members who have passed on, but it doesn’t make it easier to deal with the loss. But we will move on, Little Bit, because it’s what you would want, and we will become stronger because of what you have taught us.

Kristin touched the life of everyone she met, and I think we are all better people for knowing her.

About Jennifer O. White

I’m a simple wife who has discovered God’s amazing gift of prayer. Here at Prayerfully Speaking I share my journey of unwrapping this gift. God invites us to ask Him, but His enemy works diligently to keep that from happening. I hope to offer you encouragement to believe God is ready to pour more into your life than you’ve ever imaged.

2 Replies

  1. My heart hurts as I read about Kristin’s death. I am so sorry for your loss. Death is always difficult to deal with but especially hard when someone with a promising future has been taken away.
    Kristin is forever in your hearts. She sounds like such a wonderful person. It’s in these times that I’m thankful for an eternity together with all who believe. There are so many people in heaven that I look foward to meeting or seeing again.
    I believe that we can only “move on” in the midst of our grief by walking the painful path of loss with God. It’s a process, not an event. And something I’ve been learning quite a bit about recently.
    It is my prayer that God’s Spirit will bring comfort, and your family and friends continue to be a source of blessing and encouragement for you.
    There is nothing like ya-ya’s to hug away our hurts.
    No one like Jesus to mend our broken hearts!
    May He be with you and continue to work in your life (lives)!

  2. Lindsay Waters

    I worked with Kristin (aka Brittany) at Schumpert. We were very close friends. We worked well together. She was soooo funny. I started calling her Brittany because Schumpert was passing out free Brittany Spears concert tickets and of course, we were the first in line. She didn’t even like that kind of music and it was just funny for her to go, hence the name Brittany!
    There was nobody like her in this world. I could tell her anything and she always knew how to give advice and make it better. She never was “always” on my side, she would state her beliefs/advice and it was what it was. Always very sure of herself and never a doubt in her mind about her future. I will never forget how I talked to her like the whole way for her interview for CRNA school. She called me when it was over and said, “I think it went well.” The next time we worked together she told me that they accepted her on the spot, which was very unheard of. She told me that she had told everyone else on the phone but she wanted to tell someone in person:) I miss her so much and have needed her advice and her just to listen more than ever these past few weeks. I am so glad that Melissa put this on facebook so that everyone can catch a glimpse of how she lived her life and what am impact she had on anyone’s life that she was in contact with.