It’s been 7 1/2 months since Rob Meline was killed by his 29-year-old son, Jonathon, an act that shocked the Northwest community and threatened to shatter a family.
Jonathon Meline remains in custody, a schizophrenic whose competency hearing has been postponed a half dozen times.
Kim and her four daughters – Kristina, Shannon, Sara and Katie – are still battling the horrors of that night, but they’re doing it together. Each has their own life, and all have relied upon one another.
Like Rob Meline, Kim is a school teacher, and the subject of today’s column.
“The biggest lesson Rob’s death has taught me is one so many people who’ve lost someone know – the relationship doesn’t end,” she said. “I talk to him daily. Lately, I’ve been dreaming about him, and it’s always some routine daily thing he’s doing. I’m always thinking, ‘Oh good, he’s back …’”
Each of her daughters has dealt with their father’s death, and all have had ‘tough times.’ One, Kristina, was the only one home that night last October when Jonathon attacked his father with a hatchet.
“I know Kristina has had nightmares, and the dreams are always just before Rob is attacked, where she’s trying to warn him,” Kim said.
The others – including Kim, who had just flown to Spain with her mother – have fought survivor’s guilt.
“I’ve had a lot of guilt. If I hadn’t gone on the trip, maybe this wouldn’t have happened,” she said. “I know if I’d been in the house and Jon had started to attack Rob, I’d have known it and fought him. And if he’d come at me first, Rob would have done the same thing.”
Compounding the tragedy, the Melines suspected they might one day be attacked by their son, who had been in and out of mental hospitals for a decade.
The night he died, Rob Meline slept with a baseball bat near his bed.
For all the pain the family has endured, Kim and her daughters have gotten through it one day at a time, together. It’s a testament to their love and strength.