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Sunday, January 11, 2015


What shall I explain about this painting? Shall I tell you that Mélanie Péron lives in France?  Should I say that she met Nicolas in 1997 when she was only 19 and he was only 21?  Shall I tell you it was a perfect love that was full of happiness?  Their love completed her.  His loving glance filled her with exquisite flutters, like butterflies. 

After 10 years of happiness, something was wrong with Nicolas.  In 2007, he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia type 6.  He must be cared for 125 miles from home in a sterile unit.  He had aggressive chemotherapy.  The search began for a bone marrow donor.  In 2010, they found a donor. Mélanie would watch Nicholas within his  sterile room.  She would don her protective gear and walk in like an astronaut; her heart beating like the wings of a butterfly.

After four weeks of isolated treatment, he was allowed to go home and recover.  His already thin frame was now gaunt.  He turned to Mélanie and said,” I look like death.”  Then sobs racked his body, as he cried as guileless as a child. Little by little he grew better.  In August of 2008, they went on holiday in the countryside.  In December 2008, Nicolas felt tired and out of breath.  He went to the doctor and was told he was just anxious.  He was prescribed sleeping pills, massage and exercise.

By New Year’s Day he was very short of breath, so they went to another doctor. Nicolas had a double lung embolism. They went to the hospital and soon Nicholas had a fever.  Mélanie met an awful nurse who visage is seared with in her mind.  The nurse did not want to disturb the doctor on duty.  Nicolas was in so much pain but struggled to get treatment because of all the drug interactions.  He contracted a fungus while hospitalized.  Then Nicolas told Mélanie he had planned to ask her to be his wife.

Nicholas was hospitalized from January until March. Mélanie wanted to do something nice for Nicolas so she contacted a French singer named Bénabar and asked if he could play for Nicolas.  The singer came to the hospital room surprising Nicolas.  This created a butterfly effect in the entire care team.  They saw the power of art in a clinical environment.

A few days later Nicolas caught a cold.  He had such trouble breathing.  They were so alone.  As anyone who has along term illness can tell you, as weeks become months friends fly away.  They live in their fast-paced normal lives, while in the land of the sick the moments are counted on a clock without hands.

The doctors tried a heroic measure of high doses of cortisone in a short amount of time. Mélanie did not leave Nicholas’ side as fought hallucinations.  She stayed night and day. He was as terrified as a small child and oh, so very sick.

On April 12, 2009 Nicolas died. Mélanie was shattered.  She never had the chance to be a wife, so she was not a widow.  She had no role in ceremonies of death, set aside; she would find a way to conquer grief.

She would embrace the butterfly effect.  She would help others who suffered.  She would write, she would promote the arts and she would create l’Effet Papillon.  In September 2011, she launched this social enterprise hosting writing workshops for 80 oncology patients. This project continues to grow. Mélanie continues to make new connections.

She found me.  She found another who lost their love to a dreaded disease in 2009.   She found someone who could paint her metamorphosis, someone who knew the beautiful pain.  We feel the wings of change as the flutter by.  We know the power of the last exhale.  We know breath can change the tide of years, we know the power of butterflies.

1 comment:

  1. Regina and Melanie, your stories continue to move me because I know too well this pain of losing a loved one much too soon as I was by the side of not one but two of my sisters who became widows at a young age. Their partners also died before they had experienced all the joys of life and love. Thank you both for opening your hearts to the world to come along through your stories and discover the power of art to heal and to give wing to change.