Greg Majors doesn't like to talk about the death of his daughter Melissa. It is too painful. The emotions are too raw — even after four years.
“I'll go by a McDonald's now and it just tears me up,” he says, his hand partially covering his face and his eyes straight ahead, not looking at others in the room. “I make an effort not to drive by a McDonald's. … I just can't handle it.”
He says sometimes it is the little things, like seeing a place she loved, that brings back a numbing sense of loss.
At that moment, Majors hears a customer in the front of the pharmacy and quickly gets up from the table. He appears relieved to be able to focus his thoughts on something else.
“It's real difficult,” adds Janet Majors, the mother of Melissa and Majors' former wife.
Later in the interview Ms. Majors is the one who is overcome with emotion and begins to cry.
Majors grabs a tissue and hands it to her. When they talk about their daughter, the tears often flow.
Melissa Elaine Majors was a joy to her parents. In photos she is seen flashing an infectious smile. She looked a lot like her mother.
Ms. Majors says Melissa was her best friend.
Melissa was 27 years old when she died. She was living at home.
Ms. Majors said one night the family had been watching “American Idol.”
“I remember us talking about who was the best (on the show) and things like that,” recalls Ms. Majors. Later that same night, they found Melissa on the couch unresponsive.
One moment Melissa was there and everything was wonderful and the next moment she was gone. It was as if their daughter had been cruelly snatched from them.
A doctor told them that she died from complications of an oversized heart.
“We didn't see it (Melissa's death) coming,” says Ms. Majors.
She says the next few weeks were a blur. She is not sure how she made it through the difficult time.
She later talked to her pastor in an effort to resolve why this had happened and to make sense of it all. She read everything she could about death and trying to move on after someone dies.
A colleague told her about The Compassionate Friends, a group made up of parents who have lost their children to death.
They went to a meeting. She says it helped to be able to talk to others who have had similar experiences.
“It is the one place you can go and everybody understands,” she says.
Mr. and Ms. Majors began attending the group's annual candlelight service held in the weeks before Christmas. During the service, parents are encouraged to light a candle in memory of their child. Photos are displayed and these children are remembered in other ways.
This year the Candlelight Service is set for 6:30 p.m. at Crossroads Community Church, 13730 Texas Highway 155, south of Tyler.
Participants are asked to bring a canned food item to give to the church's food pantry.
Ms. Majors says the first year they attended it was both comforting and difficult to sit through the remembrance service and think about the daughter they love so much who is no longer here to share the holiday season with them.
The holidays are still a difficult time, says Mr. Majors.
“The holidays are ruined for me,” he says. “The holidays, the day of her birthday … the anniversary of her death. Those days are ruined.”
Ms. Majors says they both will never forget Melissa and are grateful for the time they had with her.
“Someone told me that no one is really gone until they are remembered no longer,” says Ms. Majors.
Mr. and Ms. Majors say they know that the pain of losing Melissa will never go away. They find ways to cope and hold on to the moments of joy she brought to their lives.
“It's never going to be easy,” says Ms. Majors. “Grief is a lifetime commitment but it (the pain) does get softer … I feel incredibly blessed in spite of it all.”