June 30th Entry (ran out of space and had to make it separate...)

Wednesday -- June 24th

Michael graduated from middle school yesterday!  We were so proud of him! The ceremony was beautiful and the principal even worked Maddie's "Never, Never, Never Give Up" into the last sentence of her inspirational speech to the graduates.   She held up the framed copy I had given her.  Once again, we were so incredibly touched and I lost it.  I couldn't help but cry.  It was such another beautiful tribute, and I just miss her so much...

I thought about how Maddie would feel if she were still here.  She always hated attention, and she would probably be a bit embarrassed with all the amazing tributes she has received, but I know that now that she is watching from Heaven, she is thrilled!  She is proud and excited to know that pieces of her journey's purpose are being revealed and there will be more to come!

The whole time I was sitting there, I was looking out the windows, asking Maddie to send a butterfly or a yellow finch, or a rainbow, outside the window, so I could know she was there and tell Michael.  Well, she was there.  She sent the graduates off with her encouraging words.

Michael looked so handsome as he walked up to receive his promotion certificate.  He has been through an incredibly difficult journey, and I am so proud that he continues to hold his head high and try to find his way.  He is such a good kid and we are so proud.

All of the kids looked so big and mature.  I said good bye again to the staff and stopped in to see Judy Holt, Maddie's 4th grade teacher, whom she adored, to give her a butterfly charm.  The same charm I have given Maddie's friends.  Going back into that classroom is always very hard for me.  I can still see Maddie waving to me and sitting at her desk when I'd visit.  Anyway, Judy pointed out the little plastic butterfly that Maddie had colored for her and stuck on her window.  She said it has not fallen off, nor will it come off!   Nope, Maddie wants it to stay where she put it! 

I made one last trip to the library, where they temporarily have Maddie's paintings, until they are able to hang them where they will be going. I just stood there and cried.  They really are magnificent and the librarian shared a story about how the kids all come in and just sit, look at them, and talk about them. She said they all are so truly and deeply moved by each of them.  I am so glad.

William finished first grade on Tuesday as well.  He is very excited to be done for the summer, but said he'll miss his teacher and his friends.  He had a great, fun, supportive group of classmates, and his teacher was wonderful.  She was perfect for him.

So, here we are, the beginning of summer vacation.  I find myself crying a lot today. Just absolutely emotionally drained.  It has been an emotional week, the boys are fighting, it has been raining, and I miss my girl.  I really don't know how I'm going to get through the summer.  I  can't imagine it without Maddie, but it's here, and it's the next hurdle we'll have to get over...one day at a time.

Sunday -- June 21st -- Happy Father's Day

On Tuesday of this week, I had to take Thomas to school for his Kindergarten screening.  After he left for his "tests," I sat and filled out some forms.  I sat thinking about how it felt like just yesterday when I sat there filling out the same forms for the other three.  I thought about how Thomas is going into Kindergarten, William is going into 2nd grade, and Michael is going into 7th grade.  Maddie would be going into her last year at the middle school, 6th grade. It seems so strange to have such a big gap now between Michael and the other two, with no Maddie in her place.  We'll be out of the middle school now until 2010, when William moves up. 

I thought about how sad it was that Maddie wouldn't get to watch Thomas get on and ride the bus for the first time.  She won't be on the bus with him and William. I know if she were going to ride the bus, she would take Thomas by the hand and show him the ropes.  Michael won't be on the bus because he gets to school an hour earlier in the Fall.

I had to fill in a section on name and age of the student's siblings.  I got stuck.  I truly didn't know how to answer that.  I felt my heart beating and tears welling.  I turned and asked Ruthann, a friend sitting next to me, how she would answer it. I added a side note with our story, although the school is obviously already aware.  I just had to include Maddie on the form somehow.

I always picture Maddie at the elementary school, dressed in her red and white gingham dress.  She was so pretty...

Thursday was a fun day.  My childhood friend, Trish, from CT., came up for a Maddie butterfly tattoo!  She is #9!  I am so happy she has one and she is too. Thanks Trish!

Friday was pajama day at school for William.  He looked so cute going out the front door in his (Maddie's) SpongeBob pajamas and plaid bathrobe.  He looked like Hugh Heffner!  He got right on the bus, smiled and waved!

Friday was Field Day for Michael's class.  It was pouring rain, but that didn't stop them from having a blast!

I was so glad I could volunteer for the first part of the day.  I stood in the concession stand and handed out snacks.  Michael, of course, acted as if he didn't know me!  I told him I was going to get on the microphone and give him a shout out from his Mommy! I was kind and didn't embarrass him.  In fact, a picture was snapped of me kissing him on the cheek and when I found out that it was going to be used in the slide show, I asked them to delete it, so Michael wouldn't be "humiliated and have the rest of his life ruined!"  What a considerate Mom!

Friday night we had our friends, Melanie and Ray, over for dinner.  It was so nice to see them.  It had been  while.  The boys all enjoyed their visit too, and we ended the night by playing a joke on Paul, next door.  We have had the loudest tree frog for weeks now.  We caught it once and Ernie released it...into our very own pond!  When I told him to get rid of it, I thought he'd take it on a long walk into the woods or for a long one way car ride!  So, it was back and we had to get rid of it. 

The boys grabbed a flash light and caught it.  I first told them to put it inside Mr. Altmeyer's new grill, but was afraid he'd heat it up to cook one night without opening the lid first, and we'd all be eating frog legs.  So, they put it in a tiny tupperware container, snuck over to the Altmeyer's porch, and released him!  We didn't hear it make a sound all night long!  The next night it was back next to our house!  The Altmeyer's never even knew it had been there until we told them the next day.  How did it climb the fence and find its way back here?!  It really likes it here, but we'll be getting rid of it again.

Sunday - Happy Father's Day!

Really hard day, without Maddie, but the boys were excited for Ernie.  They made it a special morning for him. They dragged me out of bed to make the coffee, eggs, toast and bacon.  We were going to serve it to him in bed, but he slept on the couch last night!  We all played musical beds last night, not sleeping well, and the King for the Day was on the couch this morning. Breakfast on the couch!  I thought about Maddie from the minute I got up with the boys, and I'm sure Ernie did too. She would be the one to wake us all up, cook the breakfast in bed, and lead the mayhem.  I talked to her and asked her to be with Ernie all day, to let him feel her presence, and to bring him peace and maybe even a smile or two...

We didn't do anything terribly exciting for Father's Day. Ernie went fishing with William and Thomas.  William caught two fish and Thomas caught one.  Ernie caught none.  I took Michael to Walmart.  He has been asking for new headphones for days.  So, I've been thinking, ok, I'll spend seven bucks or so and get him a new pair, as a small part of his graduation gift.  $30 later, he had his new headset!  Nothing is cheap anymore!

Ernie came back from fishing with the boys and then went back out fishing by himself.  He and Maddie always went fishing.  She loved it.  This time he caught a fish!

Sunday afternoon I went for a bike ride by myself in the rain.  I went to the cemetery to talk with Maddie.  I met one of her best pals there, with her Mom.  She hadn't seen Maddie's headstone yet, so I was so glad I could be there with her.  We shared memories of Maddie, laughed and cried. It was a very special visit.

I hope all you Dad's had a great Father's Day!

Tuesday -- June 16th

Today is a really hard day.  Of course, it's the 16th - 8 months today.  It's raining and it's cold...

Let's see, busy, busy week...

Thomas graduated from Pre-school on Friday!  Yeah!  He is so excited to get on the bus in the Fall and go to full day Kindergarten.  He is so ready and so am I.  It will be really good for Thomas.  Someone asked me what I'll do with myself once the Fall comes. My answer...I don't know.  I have a few ideas, but I also know that you don't always walk down the path you thought you would.  I had always thought I would start my own interior decorating business once the kids were all in school, but I don't see that happening anymore.  I think I'll be doing charity work and possibly writing a book.  Although I'm sure Ernie would prefer I do something that helps pay the bills!   No matter what path I'm steered down, I know I'll be busy.

This last Saturday TBall came to an end for the season.  Thomas loved receiving his trophy.  He really enjoyed playing and wants to play again next year.  He really did well for a kid who never played before.

After TBall, Ernie packed up the camper and took the boys away for an overnighter.  I had so many big plans to get a lot done around here, but somehow, the day flew by and I didn't get half of it done, but just having a quiet house for a night was kind of nice.  My sister came over Saturday night to watch a movie.  It was really nice just sitting with her, undistracted by kids. It had been a long time since we could do that.

The boys had a blast!  They stayed at Nickerson State Park in the Cape.  When they got home, I unpacked their things and emptied the cooler. Of course, the cooler was packed with all kinds of crap that Ernie bought for the trip.  Real bacon, real sausages...I always buy the "fake" stuff.  The turkey bacon, rice sausages...so my boys were in Pig Heaven for the day!

The feet on my guys were black!  I couldn't get them into the tub fast enough! They were all so dirty, but all talked about how much fun they had.  They were exhausted. Michael showered, laid on the couch and said, "There's no place like home, but Mom, you're coming with us next time."  Gulp.

We had a painting company to the house on Saturday. We are having the fence power washed and painted and the house power washed.  Everything has gone from white to green/brown.  So, bad news - as they power washed the fence, it fell apart!  Yep, rotten to the core. It is not even 10 years old, but has not held up.  So, now they don't want to paint it, with good reason, and I have to call the fence company out here to see what's up.  If we have to replace the whole thing - that would not be good!  Deep breaths.

In order to clean the fence, we had to take down our sign, "We Love You Maddie."  I can't explain how hard it is to not have that sign up.  I just feel like something is really missing and it needs to go back on. It has been on there since Maddie's wake.  I'm going to put it back up.

Sunday afternoon we went next door for Lauren Altmeyer's school graduation cook out. The kids had a great time and Hope even made her way over to their yard.  I think Paul was fine with that, until Hope left him a present on his freshly groomed lawn! 

Monday morning was a very special morning.  The school had an art room Dedication Ceremony for Maddie.  They renamed the art room, The Maddie Savoie Art Center and dedicated it to Maddie.  It was the most beautiful, fitting, heartfelt ceremony. Truly, everything about it was so perfect, so personal, so incredibly special, and I can't think of a better way to honor Maddie.

The staff and students all wore pink, yellow, or white. The band played, the kids sang, the staff spoke from their hearts, her friend Molly read aloud a book she had written...the whole ceremony was beyond words.

The plaque is beautiful with her picture, smiling in her pink cap. Her artwork was copied onto canvas and blown up.  They came out unbelievably amazing! 

I don't think I could absorb it all, until we came home and I sat down.  I was emotionally exhausted and fell asleep on the couch!  We are so grateful for everything the school community did for Maddie and our family and can't say thank you enough. I wrote them all a letter that I'll end with.  There were graduating classes that have moved on while Maddie was at school, who knew her, and I want them to know as well, how grateful we are....


Dear Friends,

What an amazing Art Room Dedication Ceremony for Maddie. We can't imagine a more beautiful, perfect tribute to honor Maddie. We know she was smiling down on all of us with that huge, brilliant, smile of hers, so thrilled with what you all did for her.

There was so much love and thoughtfulness put into every detail of the ceremony.  From the pink and yellow outfits, the heartfelt speeches given by Mrs. Godfrey, Mrs. Kiewlicz, Mrs. Daley, Mrs. Holt, and Mrs. McGrory, the solos performed by Madeline Crump and Abigail McDonough, the book by Molly Coletta, the singing, the band, and of course, the AMAZING copies of Maddie's artwork. It was so evident that Maddie truly touched the entire school community, and we are so proud of her.  

 

We have not had the opportunity to personally thank all of you for everything you have done and continue to do, so that is why I wanted to write this letter.  I also know that if Maddie was still here with us, she would love to say a few things to all of you and I hope that in my writing, I can speak for her, and truly let you know how you made her feel when she was here.

From the day Maddie was diagnosed, until the day she left, every one of you showed her such true kindness, compassion, support, and friendship.  On the night of your very first fundraiser for Maddie, the Line Dance, you made Maddie feel so safe and loved.  You made us feel so comforted, knowing that Maddie would be looked after and cared for whenever she could be with you all at school.  Thank you for that gift.

Maddie loved to be at school.  Even when she was very sick and not feeling well, she still wanted to be at school.  She just wanted to be a normal kid and experience the joys of everyday life, be with her friends, and learn from her teachers, whom she adored.  You all made her feel comfortable and welcome and helped make her transitions back into school after extended absences, so much easier. For that we are so grateful and Maddie was so grateful.

Maddie truly was a gift.  She was like a beautiful little butterfly, sprinkling her magic on everyone and everything she touched.  She taught us all so many life lessons.  Lessons that we truly hope you will cherish and carry with you throughout your lives. Maddie lived every day of her life to the fullest, always with a radiant smile, despite the enormous battle she had to fight every day. She never felt sorry for herself, never complained, and never gave up hope.

As you all know, Maddie lost her hair throughout her treatment, but that never stopped her from coming to school and smiling.  She knew she looked different, but she knew inside, she wasn't different at all. That's why most times, she didn't even try to conceal her beautiful bald head.  She was still Maddie.  Pretty, athletic, sweet, kind, smart, compassionate, caring, and oh, so funny! 

Maddie once wrote her thoughts in chalk in our driveway and one line read, "It's what's on the inside not the outside..."  What a very powerful lesson to always remember.  Always keep that thought with you as you go through life. When things get tough and pressures start building up.  When you feel like you have to have the best clothes, the prettiest hair, the coolest friends, the latest and greatest cell phone. None of that matters.  Who you are in the inside, is truly what is important. 

How you treat others, with kindness and respect, is how you will be thought of and remembered as you go through life and surround yourself with new friends.  Maddie is not remembered for her clothes, jewelry, or even for being bald and sick.  She is remembered for who she was.  A true, kind, friend, who made all of you laugh and smile.

Another phrase Maddie wrote on a piece of paper when she was in the hospital was, "Never, Never, Never, give up."  Another very important lesson.  For Maddie, these words were especially meaningful in her struggle, but for all of you, the words are just as meaningful and powerful...Stay strong, fight for what's right, and always stay true to yourself and your values.  Don't give up when things get tough, when you feel defeated.  Hold your head high, be proud of who you are, always have inner strength and confidence, and never, never, never, give up.

We presented a framed copy of Maddie's writing of "Never, Never, Never give up," to the school after the dedication, because we want for all of you who see it going forward, to always be reminded to push yourself through your hard times, stay strong, put everything into perspective, and to forge ahead, no matter what the hardship, it could be so much worse...

Our family was so unbelievably touched, beyond words, when we drove our Maddie by the school, for the last time, and saw every single window covered with a paper angel or butterfly, carrying a message for her, and the heartfelt, "In Loving Memory of Maddie."  I don't know if we truly had realized her impact on all of you until we saw that. We cannot express to all of you what that gift to Maddie and our family meant to us.  We will never forget that.  We have not read every message yet, but in time, we will.

You have all continued to raise money in Maddie's honor, and again, we are so grateful.  Your penny collections, and every other fund raiser in her name, have meant the world to us, and to the families who will benefit from her memory. Maddie was always a giver, and she would want us to continue to give to others in need.

We all miss Maddie terribly, but truly hope that you will always remember her, and always keep the lessons she taught us close to your hearts, as you continue on your life's journeys.  She will always be with all of us, making us smile when we're sad,  picking us up when we're down, holding our hands when we feel alone.  I hope you will think of Maddie and smile when you see a rainbow, a beautiful sunset, a beautiful flower, and, of course, a butterfly flying by. 

Maddie would be so excited for, and so proud of, the graduating class, especially her brother Michael.  Our family wishes the graduating class of 2009, all the very best, and the rest of the student body continued success and happiness. 

We will miss being at the Freeman until our next two boys, William and Thomas, move up from the HOD.  When they do, they will always remember how well supported their brother was, and they will know how well loved their sister was. Every time they go to the Maddie Savoie Art Center, they will be proud of the everlasting impact Maddie had on so many. We hope her smiling photo on the plaque, along with her paintings throughout the school, will always bring a smile to your faces and put inspiration in your hearts.

And in the words Maddie would say, "Peace Out!!"

Thank you to all of you, from our family to yours!  Have a wonderful summer!

You can watch some clips from the dedication on YouTube at the following two links:  Link1  Link2

 

 

Monday -- June 8th

 

Find myself needing to get out of the house after I drop Thomas at school. I need to keep busy and distracted.  So, what have I been doing?  Spending money I shouldn't be spending!  I bought a new rug the other day.  The rug we had in the fireplace room was worn down.  I thought Ernie wouldn't be too pleased, so of course I kept it hidden in the car until he ran out to do an errand.  The second he left, I quickly rolled up the old rug and tossed it aside, ran down to my car, grabbed the new one, dragged it in, and put it in place. As I was finishing, I heard Ernie come home.  Oh shoot!  I had to hide the old one and hope he wouldn't notice the new one.  So, I dragged the old one to the office, threw it in, and slammed the door. 

"What's up?"  "Nothing..."

The boys noticed right away and I tried to shush them.  William kept saying, "Dad, come hang out with me in the fireplace room.  It's so cozy in here."  He was dying to rat me out!  All three of the boys were! "Yeh, Dad, come in here."  They asked Ernie a few more times, but Ernie got a work phone call and went to take it in the other room - the office!  Oh man, I'm busted...

When he came out, he didn't say anything about the big old rolled rug. Uh oh, what does the silence mean?  Then William shouted out his invite into the "cozy room" again.  Finally Ernie replied, "William, why do you want me to come in there so badly, so I can see the new rug?"  Turns out, Ernie loves the new rug and admitted the old one needed to go.  Phew!

Now the thing is, I don't have the heart to toss the old one.  It's still rolled up in my office, but I feel sentimental about it.  That rug has been through a lot with us.  It holds memories in its threads. The kids would sit on that rug, in front of the fire and write their Christmas letters to Santa.  We sat on that rug as we opened Christmas gifts, hung out in front of the fire, slept in front of the fire. I know it's just a rug, but it's hard to get rid of anything that holds memories.

It has been a very emotional week. 

Saturday was Norfolk Community Day. It's a great day, when the whole town comes out to have fun.  Vendors set up tables, kids play on the inflatable attractions, there is music and entertainment, and of course, a grill going.  I had a table set up with Lorraine, for Cops With Kids With Cancer.  We set up our table with badges, t-shirts, bumper stickers, and bracelets for CFKWC, and put Maddie's picture out, along with her beautiful cards.  We did pretty well and made a couple hundred dollars for the charity.

Sitting at the table and just being there for the day, was a lot harder than I thought it would be.  I watched Maddie's friends all running around, holding hands, giggling.  Several of them came over to me and said hello.  Others I wasn't as familiar with, came by quietly and looked at Maddie's big picture on the table.  I overheard them all talking about how sweet Maddie was, and each talking about how they knew her, and how sad it was that she died. It was very hard to listen to. It was my Maddie girl that they were missing. I was missing her too.  I wanted her to be running around with them, or helping me sell our items.  She would've loved that.

Ayla Brown, from American Idol was there to perform.  I walked over to the tent to watch for a minute and that's when I really fell apart.  Her friends were all up at the front, dancing and jumping around to Ayla's singing. I could just imagine Maddie's roaring giggle and her big smile, leading the dance off at the front.

William and Thomas had a birthday party from 1-3, so they got to hang out for a bit after that.  Michael came and spent the afternoon.  He had a good time and it was so nice to see him running around with a smile on his face.  He helped out at our table for a bit, and kept me company when he wasn't off walking around.  I loved having him sit with me.

After Field day was over, the boys went home with Ernie.  I loaded the car and went to visit with Maddie. I just fell apart sitting there.  I miss her so painfully.  Having spent the day watching her friends run around in the beautiful fresh air was very difficult for me, and I just kind of fell apart for the rest of the day, into the night.

I have gotten so much feedback on Maddie's headstone. It's an unfathomable conversation, to say the least, when I'm hearing how much someone loves my child's headstone. You never think your child's face will be on one, in your lifetime, but it is comforting to know that everyone loves it and feels that it really embodies Maddie's spirit.  Thank you for sharing your thoughts and thank you for visiting our girl. I'm so glad everyone is pleased.  Someone wrote, asking if we will put a picture on the website, for those who live far away.  Yes, we will.  I will take a picture on the next sunny day and get it posted.

When I went home, Ernie had brought home his newest adventure.  He purchased a pop up camper from Maddie's nurse, our friend, Pam ("Cookie").  Ernie wanted to try something new for the boys.  A whole new thing.  I have to say, as opposed to the idea as I was, I think the boys will really enjoy THEIR camping trips.  I'm still not sure if I'll be frequently joining them on their campouts...

So, we lit the chimenea, had dinner, hung out with the neighbors for a bit, and then we ALL slept in the camper.  Yep, they managed to convince me to spend the night.  It was fine until we all woke up at 5:30am. Ernie left to go golfing and the boys woke up because the birds were chirping like crazy and the camper was very sunny.  So, we moved inside and I made the two little guys go back to bed with me in my bed. Michael laid on the couch.

When Ernie came home from golfing, I headed out with Amy for our bike ride.  We rode far, but it felt like we were going in slow motion.  Guess I was just physically and emotionally exhausted.  I really am enjoying my bike.  It's hard work, but it feels good to be alone with your thoughts for a little while.  I find myself looking up at the sky a lot during my riding.  Surprised I haven't run into a mailbox or a telephone pole yet! 

The boys have been enjoying the pool next door, now that it's open for the season. Yesterday William tried to be sneaky and push me in.  He said he was trying to push me in like Maddie did last year.  Actually, he had the story wrong.  What happened was that Ernie threw me in, and then Maddie went after him, and pushed him in!  I confirmed my version with Michael. 

Was doing laundry this morning and had to wash and fold Maddie's pink shorts and fuzzy socks.  William wore them to bed the other night.   I miss having Maddie's clothes in my wash load every day.

Ernie wanted me to post another reading from the Children's Hospital Memorial Service. This one was his favorite:

Gone From My Sight

I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship, at my side, spreads her white sails
to the moving breeze and starts for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck
of white cloud just where the sea and sky come
to mingle with each other.

Then, someone at my side says, "There, she is gone."

Gone where?

Gone from my sight.  That is all.

She is just as large in mast, hull and spar
as she was when she left my side.
And, she is just as able to bear her load
of living freight to her destined port.

Her diminished size is in me - not in her.
And, just at the moment when someone says,
"There, she is gone,"
there are other eyes watching her coming,
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout,
"Here she comes!"
 

Thursday -- June 4th

Maddie's headstone is here!  It was put down in her special garden last night.  Ernie and I drove down with the boys when we got the news.  We couldn't get there fast enough!  We had two cars because Ernie had to run some errands from there, and we each tried to beat the other one out of the driveway to get there! 

When we pulled in, of course, I initially cried.  It was real now.  A headstone with our daughter's name and face on it.  So hard, but after a few minutes, as I stood there, I felt so happy for Maddie. Maddie deserved her beautiful stone and it's PERFECT! PERFECT! PERFECT!  I felt happy for the boys and Ernie, who have been waiting anxiously. They all loved it. I love it.

We had to clean away what was there, make a fresh start, and make the sight beautiful.  I hung some flowers today and now it's complete.  I know Maddie loves it.  As I was standing there, getting ready to leave, I said, "Maddie Moo, do you love it?  I need to know you love it MooMoo. Isn't it perfect? Can you just show me a little sign?"  Just then, as has happened in the past when I've asked for a sign, a hawk came from seemingly out of nowhere, circled around, so far up, just hovering.  My "Maddie hawks" always hover much higher up than the average hawk, and glisten in the sun.   Some of you may think that's nuts and that's ok, but not me.  Maddie sent it as a sign, like she has done before.  She loves her stone!

I hope you all get a chance to stop and see it.  Make sure you look at the front and back. I hope it makes you all smile, as Maddie would want you to do. SMILE.

Wednesday -- June 3rd

We went to the annual Children's Hospital Memorial Service last Thurs night, honoring the children that have passed away over the last year.  I didn't think I would go, but decided that Maddie would want me to go, so that I could say thank you to any of her doctors that might be there. It was so incredibly hard to make that drive again.  My sister came with me and we met Ernie and Beth there.  They had both gone over from work. 

I could drive that ride blindfolded.  Literally every stop light, every store, every landmark, had a reminder of Maddie.  A laugh or a story we had shared at those spots while driving,  A quite moment, a song on the radio we bopped to and sang along with together, the spot where she told the policeman she was "bringing sexy back," the places where homeless people stood in the streets, holding signs. Maddie would always tell me to stop and give them money. 

As we got closer to the hospital, for a second, I truly felt as though I was going into the hospital to change shifts with Ernie, and I was going to see Maddie in a few minutes.  I couldn't wait.  

When I pulled down Longwood Ave., the street the hospital is on, I felt sick.  I tried to ignore the hospital on my right as I pulled into Children's garage on my left.  Even hearing the automated voice on the parking ticket machine, brought back memories. We parked and got out.  I remembered the smell and sounds of the garage.  The "coocoo" sound of the crossing light, telling us it's safe to cross. All too familiar.

We ran around the corner one block to the hall where the reception was held, not at Children's.  I tried to avoid it, but couldn't help but look at the hospital and look up at Maddie's old windows, just above the entrance overhang, where she would stand in the windows and wave hello or good bye as we switched shifts.  It felt like she was still up there, waiting for us to come back, get her out, and bring her home now. My God, that was so hard.

When we arrived at the hall, I hung Maddie's picture on the bulletin board, as all the other parents had done.  Hers went up top.  I swear she glimmered from above.  I looked at all the other faces.  At least three very familiar - Tim, Christina, and Danny.  It all seemed so surreal.  These beautiful children, our children, were on the board or on the table, in pictures, not holding our hands or sitting with us, as they had been, and should be.

The service was beautiful but hard.  The staff sang songs and read poems.  They were so professional.  They are people with so many talents beyond just being doctors. There were so many parents hurting so deeply from their loss. You just felt a strong sense of community, love and support for each other, despite the fact that you didn't want to be in the same crowd.   We all got to bring a flower up and announce who we were representing.  Ernie said Maddie's name. 

We saw familiar faces but not certain ones that I had hoped to see.  We did get to see Simone, Maddie's fellow, who sat with us.  We saw our Reverend, Dr. Wu, Ali, and a few of the doctors on Maddie's case.  It was so good to see their faces, but at the same time, very painful.  They are all such wonderful people who did their very best to save Maddie, and they all truly loved her.  They all told me how much they miss her.  They said certain kids tug at your heart, stand out, and truly leave a mark, and Maddie did just that.

I can't imagine I'll ever see those doctors again, God willing, but I will never forget them.  In a strange way, I'll miss them.

Maddie's headstone never arrived last week.  I was so disappointed, especially since my Mom was here and I was really hoping it would be here for her to see.  It has to be here this week.

My Mom had a nice visit.  The time always goes so quickly.  She and I went flower shopping so she could pick a flower for Maddie's garden.  She picked a beautiful one.  She brought me a gift, a bracelet with one of my favorite sayings inscribed in it: "Mothers hold their children's hands for a little while, but their hearts forever."  That couldn't be more true and I love my bracelet.

On Saturday morning, Amy and I rode about 25 miles on our bikes.  It was a great morning for a ride.   We rode by several PMC training groups out on the road and it gave us such a feeling of comradery.  It felt great. We also went for a quick ride on Sunday with Heather.

When I came home from my ride William called me back to the driveway.  He was riding Maddie's bike.  He said, "Mom look! I can ride Maddie's bike now!"  I felt sad, but also laughed to myself thinking if Maddie were here, she'd either come barreling out of the house, cheering for him, "Yeah William, good job!" or yelling at him, "William get off my bike you idiot!"

We had my brother in law for a cook out Saturday night and he brought the kids, Charlie and Abby.  Jeanne wasn't feeling well and stayed home.  I sat and watched the little ones play. It's a very different chemistry, but I keep trying to tell myself that this is the new chemistry, the new scene, and get used to it.  Value it, treasure it. Yes, it's different, but what we do have is a blessing. These beautiful kids running around, trying to find themselves and new wonder in life. I picture Maddie outside, right alongside them.

It's interesting to watch William interact with Abby.  She's about 2 1/2.  Maddie used to be the one to take care of her and entertain, and William seems to have taken on that role with her.  He is so good with her.  He teaches her, makes her laugh, comforts her when she gets hurt.  Thomas and Charlie are best buds and Michael thinks it's hilarious to scare Abby as much as he can. He loves to make faces or growl until she goes running for Jeanne!  They'll have an interesting relationship growing up!

We made smores by the chimenea after dinner and the kids had a good time, without cooking any worms!

Sunday's Boston Globe article on Maddie and the Cops For Kids With Cancer came out.  It was an ok article.  We actually didn't purchase it but pulled it up online to check out.  If anyone has a copy of the Sunday Globe I could grab from you, that would be great! Thanks!

A form came home this week from school for the Friends School Phone Directory.  It was a form requesting any changes to be made for next year.  It was so hard to bring myself to write in the box, "Please exclude Maddie's name from the directory going forward."  We will go from seeing a beautiful picture and tribute to her in the front cover of the books, to not seeing or reading her name at all.  That will be hard.  I sat on the form for a few days and had to bring myself to sign it...

The school is having a dedication ceremony for Maddie on the morning of the 15th.  They are re-naming the art room in her honor and we couldn't be more honored and touched.  I had to go into school yesterday to drop off a picture of Maddie, that is going to be framed as part of a plaque.  It was so hard to choose which picture of her.  She never took a bad one.  I asked the wonderful women in the front office and the Principal, for their help in deciding.  None of us could decide.  Holding her picture up in the office was very emotional. It was almost like she was standing there, joining in the conversation with her huge smile.

I want to share a poem that was written by a mother who lost her young daughter to cancer. The Mom, herself, read it during the Children's Hospital memorial.  I listened to every word, as if I had written it myself.  There wasn't a dry eye. It is beautiful and heart wrenching...

To Honor You

To honor you, I get up every day and take a breath.
And start another day without you in it.

To honor you, I laugh and love with those who knew your smile
And the way your eyes twinkled with mischief and secret knowledge.

To honor you, I take time to appreciate everyone I love,
I know now there is no guarantee of days or hours spent in their presence.

To honor you, I listen to music you would have liked,
And sing at the top of my lungs, with the windows rolled down.

To honor you, I take chances, say what I feel, hold nothing back,
Risk making a fool of myself, dance every dance.

You were my light, my heart, my gift of love, from the very highest source.
So every day, I vow to make a difference, share a smile, live, laugh, and love.

Now I live for us both, so all I do, I do to honor you.

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