“Death is not extinguishing the light; it is putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.” – source unknown
Melanie Lindmark’s life was much too short, but it was full, and she was determined to make every minute count. Melanie’s battle with Diffuse Aniplasic Stage IV Wilms, an extremely rare form of cancer, began in the winter of 2002. She fought the disease with remarkable courage and without complaint. Instead of feeling sorry for herself, Melanie always sought to help others and to reach them for the Lord. During Melanie’s six years on Earth, she touched and inspired more people than most of us will if we live to be a hundred. Her ever-present smile shed light into the lives of everyone she met.
Melanie liked kindergarten, crafts, swimming, bodysurfing, and playing with her two older sisters. She also liked motorcycles, and I am thankful for that because that’s how I came to meet her. Last summer, Wayne Thompson spread the word among the Cycle Connections staff that he had met a very special little girl at Paddy O’Quigley’s bike night where she was helping her grandparents sell t-shirts to the bikers. He encouraged all of us to come out the next Thursday and meet Melanie, which many of us did. She and Candice became instant friends. In matching T-shirts, these two biker chicks toured the parking lot hand in hand, with the rest of us in tow. Melanie posed for photos on many of the bikes to the delight of their proud owners. Darkness had fallen by the time Melanie made her way to my Harley, and I sensed that it was time for her to make some noise. I held the clutch, just in case, and fired up the engine. The little girl was delighted as she began to twist the throttle and get the attention of the crowd. By the time I decided the motor had endured enough revving, the exhaust pipes were glowing nearly as brightly as Melanie’s beaming smile.
Wayne’s article in the August issue of Cycle Connections encouraged readers to make donations to assist with Melanie’s medical expenses and to attend her birthday party on August 28 at Grace Baptist Church in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. Prior to the party she was treated to an airplane ride. When she arrived at the church, the birthday girl was pleased to see motorcycles in the parking lot. As a special surprise, Smokey McGill brought his 10-passenger Harley-powered limo trike, the Anaconda, to the party and gave rides to Melanie, her family, and many of her friends. Acting on Candice’s suggestion, the magazine staff chipped in to buy Melanie a leather motorcycle jacket. Angie at Hawg Wyld Cycles picked out a heart-shaped Harley patch for the back of the jacket and a matching stocking cap, both of which were provided at no extra charge. Our little biker babe was pretty excited about the jacket. Once she put it on, she was reluctant to take it off, even though it was a hot August afternoon. The next present, from her Uncle Jake, came in a large cardboard box. It was a kid-size electric powered chopper. With the jacket, her little helmet, and her own bike, Melanie became a full-fledged biker.
Melanie’s parents, John and Karri, always made sure that she experienced as many fun adventures as her health would permit. She enjoyed special school events such as parties and field trips. She swam in the ocean and visited Sea World and Disneyland. She became an honorary Lee’s Summit firefighter and switched on the lights on the Lee’s Summit Mayor’s Christmas tree. She even got to experience a few motorcycle rides with family friends. Many people reached out to help the Lindmarks. Thousands bought purple wristbands, Melanie’s favorite color, to assist with medical expenses.
Peace came to Melanie at her home on March 31. Both the large church sanctuary and an overflow room were filled to capacity for her memorial service on April 2. On display were numerous photos of the beautiful, dynamic, always-smiling child. I’m sure different photos had special meaning to everyone who viewed them. Of course, the ones with motorcycles touched me to the point of tears.
The staff of Cycle Connections extends our heartfelt sympathy to John and Karri, to Melanie’s sisters, Allison and Katherin, and to all of her extended family and multitude of friends. She will be missed by all.
“Seeing death as the end of life is like seeing the horizon as the end of the ocean.” – David Searls
Photos by Stripe and Wayne Thompson