Tuesday -- June 28th
Past few weeks have been so busy. Let's go back a bit...
On June 3rd, Ernie and I renewed our wedding vows. It was quite emotional. I hadn't been nervous or emotional about it until the day of. My parents and my sister and her husband, came with us as our witnesses. The kids were home with our good friend, Heather, who stayed with them. We told them what we were doing and they were ok with not coming to the church. Don't know that they were really that into it. Honestly, I feel if we had brought them and Maddie wasn't standing there with them, it would have made it too difficult for me.
So, Mom, Dad, Jeanne and Dean, were waiting for us when we got to church. I had packed a basket filled with glasses and a bottle of champagne. We all headed in, and before our vows, Msgr. called us into the back room for a very nice, quick chat. We then stood at the altar, as we had almost 16 years ago, and renewed our vows. I cried as I did the first time, when I said my vows. It all seemed so surreal. I thought about all we had been through in the years we have been together. I thought about how great it would be to go back in time and have things turn out differently for our family, I wondered how we looked standing up there. Did we look that much older? I thought about the fact that I was now wearing spanx instead of a wedding gown! Wow, what a journey it has been.
I thought about the fact that I had received my good news regarding my biopsy that same day. The timing of our vows and my results, just all seemed to be screaming of a new, fresh start. There was a message in it all. A fresh start sounds great, but in many ways, it's hard to swallow. What does it all mean? Part of me doesn't want a "fresh start." I want the old, the original journey. I want what was. I want our old life back. I want my girl back. I don't want to move forward without Maddie. Then the voice of reality enters. I can't have the old back. I can't have my girl back. Hard pill to swallow, but I know Maddie wants me to work really hard at moving forward, to fully live in the moment. There is no choice.
I will tell you that when I went for my biopsy, I held Maddie's photo charm close to my heart, as I always do at doctor appts. I will share with you that as I held it, it got hot. Yes, it did. Not from me clutching it, because I had clutched it so many times before and it never got hot. I know Maddie was with me in that room. She was holding my hand and she was letting me know that she was there through it all. I know that when I got my good results, she was with me as I cried out to her, cried tears of joy, relief, and then sadness and pain for the fact that Maddie's results had not been different. I felt guilt in that moment that it was her and not me. It should've been me and I would've taken it. I grappled with the words I heard in my head, that it was never supposed to be me, it had to be her. That was God's plan. I felt overwhelming sadness and at the same time felt incredible relief and gratitude. Went through so many emotions in that instant of a phone call. My main concern was never for myself, but for my boys and Ernie. I could not imagine having them go through another cancer journey. So, I was given the gift of a "fresh start" and I am grateful.
We came out of the church to find that our good friends had decorated our car with all kinds of newlywed advertising! Soda cans hanging off the bumper, writing on the windows: "Honk for the newlyweds," " K+E" in a heart, a butterfly, "Just Married"...Oh my gosh! It was hysterical! We caught them hiding in the bush and gave a wave before they ran off! Too funny! We'll post a picture!
The most embarrassing thing was that we had to drive all the way through our town, into the next town, in our minivan like that and then walk into British Beer Company for dinner! We were cracking up in the van, waving to people honking! Ernie looked at me and said, "What a bunch of losers! Getting married on a Friday night then driving in our minivan to the local British Beer Restaurant for the "reception!" Oh man, it was funny, but so embarrassing! I managed to get a great booth for the "wedding party" though! Woohoo! Gotta milk it when you can!
Surprised Ernie when I told him I had packed his things and we were spending a night out! It was so much fun and I went home in the morning to pick up the boys and bring them over to the hotel for breakfast and a swim! You should've seen their reaction to the car! William thought I did it myself. He said, "Really Mom?! Why would you do that?! It's just an anniversary or something!" The two boys hid in the back seat, on the floor! This was one time I didn't order them into their seats to put their seatbelts on! Thank you to Heather for helping me with this surprise and spending the night with the boys! I owe ya!
Hard thing was all the next day, when I had to run errands in our town, and kept forgetting the writing was on our van, until local people were honkin' at me! Then I thought, Oh my gosh! They're all saying to themselves..."oh, I never knew they were never married! How nice that they're making it legal for their kids, after all they've been through..." Could not get home and wash my windows fast enough!
Next afternoon we had an impromptu bbq with friends. It was a great day.
Summer has begun. We ended out the school year with a few different things.
Michael attended his 8th grade dance and had a blast. He looked very handsome as usual. He is excited to move onto high school. I, of course, am a little nervous and can't believe I have a high schooler.
William enjoyed a movie and ice cream party for his last day of 3rd grade. He was sad to leave his teacher but he's very glad school is out. Moving onto 4th grade!
Thomas came home after the last day with a sad face and said he wants to stay back so he can be with his same teachers next year. He is moving onto 2nd grade with a few of his good pals, so I am excited for him. Very sad that this fall will be his last year in the HOD Elementary school. Can't believe that will be it for the Savoie's in the HOD.
Had a dedication of Maddie's Butterfly Garden at the HOD, last day before school. The garden is something our family wanted to donate shortly after Maddie’s passing, but it took us a while to get there. It was time and I know Maddie is thrilled with it. I had to take the money out of her account to pay for it and that was really hard for me to do, but I know she would want me to. We have the permanent stone marker with Maddie’s picture on order and I can’t wait for that to arrive. We also have a butterfly bench coming. I would like to thank the school for having a fundraiser to pay for the bench! Thank you! It was so nice when the kids all came outside for the dedication and I could thank them for the bench that is coming. So nice they will always have a piece in that garden. The Principal, Mrs. Balfour, said a few words and then I said a few words as well. All the kids were so cute and really love their new garden. I will post a garden picture. It really is beautiful. I hope it brings lots of butterflies and smiles for many, many years to come. I'll still be out there when I'm 80 yrs. old, watering that garden!
Last day of school was hard because I had to go over to the 6th grade promotion ceremonies and award the 2nd Annual "Maddie Savoie Creativity Award" to one of the graduating students. That is very difficult for me to do for so many reasons. Last year was extremely difficult because it was the first one and went to one of Maddie's own graduating classmates. This year, Ernie could not come with me so I was nervous not to have him standing with me. I was seated on the stage with other presenters, nowhere to hide. I sat next to another Mom, who has awarded an award in her son's memory for years. It was so comforting sitting with her. She said it never gets easier, just different. Maddie's award went to a girl named Cara DiPietro. I was so happy to be told by many that she was the perfect recipient!
We went camping with the boys for the first time this summer. The weather was perfect! Ernie took William and Thomas on Friday night and Michael and I went down to join them on Saturday morning. We went to Nickerson State Park on the Cape. When Michael and I got there, Ernie and the boys were in the lake. They were so happy to see us. Thomas shouted, "Hi Mom! I pulled my tooth out last night!" His front tooth had been dangling for weeks and it was finally out! He came running up to me and smiled that toothless smile! Precious! We spent most of the day on the lake. I read a book, watched the boys, and went kayaking. It was great watching Ernie and the boys swimming and wrestling in the water. The best part was when Michael flipped Ernie over in his kayak, clothes, hat and all! Michael's awesome smile and laughter meant so much to me. I miss it.
Missed Maddie and pictured her laying on the beach with me, digging in the sand with the boys and fishing with Ernie. As I thought about her, the most beautiful blue butterfly came and hung out with me! William saw it and we were both so surprised at how close it lingered to us. Practically landed on my foot! Maddie was letting us know she was there.
Beginning of summer is always hard. Watching all the kids getting out of school, excited about their summer plans, excited to move onto another year in school. One of Maddie's best pals had her 14th birthday party. I wanted to get her a special gift. I went shopping and asked Maddie to help me find the perfect gift. I walked around a gift shop, a gift shop I never go into, and found the perfect earrings! They are the matching butterfly to the butterfly necklace charm I gave all of Maddie's friends. The same butterfly as our tattoo! It really was amazing to me that I found them, the only pair, and they weren't really out in the open. They were on a display on the back counter, in among hundreds of trinkets. I had never seen them in earrings before. I KNOW Maddie picked those out.
So hard to believe this will be our third summer without Maddie. She left this house 3 summers ago, this August 20th. Still feels like yesterday in so many ways.
Few things planned for the summer. Hole In The Wall Gang Camp for a week for the boys. Michael will also go to another weeklong camp with his friend, and then we'll do a few camping weekends. Working on some other plans as well. I have my 25th high school reunion in CT. in a few weeks. Really looking forward to that! Then of course, the PMC is the first Sat. in August! Need to get on my bike. Very behind in my training! We'll try to keep busy this summer.
Took the boys over to the Duffy's on Sunday for the last Pedal Power Kids PMC Ride, in memory of Maddie's friend, Meghan. It was bittersweet, being the last one. Remember every single year. The ride was so special to Maddie and we attended every year. Bought the kids raffle tickets to throw into the prize buckets and Thomas asked me, "Mom, how many tickets would you buy if one of the prizes was to have Maddie back again?" I told him, "I would buy them all!" He said, "Me too!" Missed seeing Maddie run around that fundraiser. Missed Meghan too. Looked around at all the kids who had been coming every year. They were all getting so big. Dr. Amy Sabota, Meghan's doctor, and Maddie's for a short time, was there, with her growing pregnancy belly, chasing her little guy around. She had no children when the girls were still here. I thought about how life moves on.
I went over to the pool club yesterday. Reminded again, that life moves on. I am reminded most days, but some days are more profound. Maddie's pals were there for another event and came over to say hi to me. I love their hugs. It means so much to me that they still hug me. We chatted for a while and off they ran. I watched my three boys hang out with them. They're all getting so grown up. I wondered if Maddie would be wearing a bikini now. She didn't like them but maybe she would now. I still picture my Maddie the way she was. The age she was when she left, but I try to picture her a little older. I watched them all go off the high dive. Then I thought about what it would be like for Maddie. She would be wearing her hair piece and probably holding it on her head as she jumped. Or, she would've worn nothing at all. Sucks she had to deal with that. She handled it so well, but it was so hard. I know Maddie doesn't want me to think of those things. She wants me to remember her smile and all things good, but it's hard not to go to those thoughts. Part of the grieving process I guess. Just have to process everything when it pops up. I'm so grateful that the friendships and bonds between my boys and Maddie's friends are all very close. It's so special to see the continuing friendships that I know will always be there.
Sat down the other day to finally get to my thank you notes for our Maddie's Mission of Hope Fundraiser. Bad news - I have to tell you that I lost my database filled with all of the names of people I had to thank! Lost it all. I am truly heartbroken by this, because I wanted to send a personal thank you to all of you who attended and or donated. I don't want anyone to think for a second that we didn't receive your gifts and that we are not incredibly grateful! I want you all to know how incredibly grateful we are and continue to be for your support!
I would like to ask a favor of all of you. If you could please say a prayer for two very special people, who are fighting their own battle with cancer: My sister in law, who will begin chemotherapy on July 5th, and Colleen Duffy's sister in law, who is fighting her own battle. There is power in prayer. Thank you so much.
I hope to continue to write throughout the summer. It is so therapeutic for me. We'll update the pictures soon. I hope we will be seeing a lot of you over the summer break. I wish everyone a happy, healthy, and safe 4th of July and fantastic summer! XO
Sunday -- June 5th
Good news!! I just want you all to know that my biopsy revealed all to be benign! Thank you God, Blessed Mother and Maddie!! Thank you all for your love, prayers, and concern!
Exciting news. There is now an incredibly beautiful butterfly garden in the front of the HOD School. This is Maddie's Butterfly Garden! We have a butterfly bench and stone marker on order, but you have to go and check it out! It is absolutely stunning! More beautiful than I ever could've imagined!! Sobbed like a baby when I saw it! I cannot thank JPK Landscaping, Jenny DeLuca, and the JPK crew, for all of their hard work. They put their hearts and souls into this project, a true labor of love, more than anyone will ever know!
Will write more later! XO
Wednesday -- June 1st
Added a photo from William’s Communion Day to the pictures page.
Busy few weeks at school. Thomas' class had a barn yard show. It was very cute. There were pigs, duck, lamb, cows, and then I spotted Thomas, the tallest Rooster you've ever seen! Big rubber rooster on his head! Hysterical! They all did their skit and it was very cute. Afterwards, Thomas told me how embarrassed he was to have to wear a rooster on his head!
Few days later was the recorder show at William's class. That went on for over an hour and a half. Don't know what was more painful, standing there in my spandex biking shorts that long or the sound of 300 recorders playing "crunchy flakes!" It was really good but you have to chuckle as you look around the room at the parents giggling, some snoozing. It's one of those performances you remember each year. The kids do work so hard on the show. Although, I studied William closely during one song and I swear he was faking it! I know the look because I used to fake it in band when I played the flute! I was terrible!
Chaperoned the field trip to Boston Museum of Science last week! Whoa! What a trip! Responsible for a group of kids. You can't take in the sights yourself because you're so fixated on keeping tabs on your little group. We went into the huge Omni theater to enjoy the 4D show of tornados and I fell asleep! Who does that?! Who falls asleep during a tornado?! My friend, MaryBeth bagged me and so did another friend, Patti, who admitted that she too dozed off! At the very end of the day, as we were headed to the bus, one of mine disappeared around the corner to get a fountain drink. Panic set in but he turned up a few minutes later and was read the riot act! It's bad enough if you lose your own kid but to lose someone else's kid, whole other story!
Worked the First Grade Field Day that same week. I worked the water tattoo booth. The kids had a blast! Some got the tattoos on their cheek, their arm, their forehead. They were all so cute. As I was tattooing one little girl on her cheek. I had my other hand gently holding the back of her head still. Her hair felt just like Maddie's. So soft, same color, same style before she got sick. Thought about Maddie putting "Cancer Sucks" tattoos on the riders at the PMC watering stop, and wished I could put the same tattoos on the kids. Instead, we had basketballs, soccer balls and ballet shoes...
I hope everyone enjoyed the long weekend! It was a long weekend that kicked off for me with some news. During a routine exam last Tuesday, a lump was discovered in my breast. On Friday I had a mammogram and ultrasound and it was confirmed it is a solid mass. Then I had to wait all through the holiday weekend to get in for my biopsy. So, this morning, Wed., I had a biopsy done. I won't have the results for a few more days, but I am praying and of course, asking my Maddie, the Good Lord and the Blessed Mother, to help get me through whatever the biopsy reveals. No big words of wisdom, just always try to remind myself of how precious life is.
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