‘A sad day’: Friends remember loved mum and lawyer
MELISSA Nielsen may be gone, but she is not forgotten.
One year since the lawyer, women's advocate and much-loved mum died at 38 after a brief battle with brain cancer, friends and family still struggle with the loss.
Partner at Miller Harris Lawyers, Rowan Wilson, said there was not a day when she did not feel Melissa's absence.
"It's hard to believe we lost Melissa a whole year ago today because I've thought of her every day since," Ms Wilson said.
"It is a sad day but I know Melissa would want us to focus on what we gained not what we have lost.
"Melissa was one of the first friends I made in Cairns when I first moved here in 2005.
"I moved to Melbourne five years later, but she lured me back to Cairns and Miller Harris in 2015 by sending me photos of her networking at the beach in July while I shivered in my teeny tiny loungeroom.
"We were lucky to know Melissa. She made us strive to be better, and to do more even when it feels hard. Melissa's children have this strength in spades.
"I have found comfort in remembering Melissa often, being grateful to have experienced her outlook on life, and having the chance to be in her village."
Consultant Danae Jones said Melissa was a role model to the business community.
"It's still hard to believe that such a shining light is no longer with us," Ms Jones said.
"She set a fine example of what it meant to be a business woman, mother, wife and dear friend to so many.
"She was an enormous contributor to the fabric of our local community who will be forever missed."
A bursary for Babinda State School, from which Melissa graduated before attending law school in Townsville, now bequeaths a bursary in her name to promising female students.
The crowd-funding campaign reached its goal in a matter of weeks last year, raising $16,700.
The bursary has been named the Melissa Nielsen Leadership and Community Wellbeing Award and in November 2020 its first recipients, Casey McCrae and Audrey Van Ballegooyen.
Casey, then in Year 11, received a $250 scholarship and Audrey, the then school captain and Year 12 student, received a $500 scholarship.
The bursary recognised "outstanding leadership" and often unsung community support.
In her honour the Cairns community and Melissa's friends and family also gave more than $20,000 to the charity Send Hope Not Flowers
"Melissa will also be remembered by the wider community for her tireless fundraising efforts for the charity Send Hope Not Flowers, and dedication to all things voluntary," Ms Wilson said.
Originally published as 'A sad day': Friends remember loved mum and lawyer