I wrote this entry on the 16th but have not posted it until today. I have struggled with whether or not to post it, but now here it is…
Friday, April 16th
It has been 18 months today. I miss Maddie more and more with each passing day.
I wanted to write today, ironically on the day of Maddie's 18 month "Angelversary" because if some of you read the guest log from the other day, the entry from "CC" probably and should've amazed you. I wanted to write, to really clarify more specifics of what happened, because there is NO doubt that Maddie is an Angel, with whom God has entrusted a very special role. I know this to be true because of CC’s story and because of what I am about to share with you…
I have never written on the website about the fact that I was visited by a Medium on the morning of Maddie's wake. Her name is Maureen Hancock. You can, and should, google her name and learn all about her. I have never talked about this, out of concern, I guess, for what people would think. I know now that it is "safe" to share, and in fact, believe I am supposed to share. To give hope and faith to others, who choose to believe. To let people know that the signs I receive and write about are real. I'm not just a desperate mother looking for something to believe in, grasping for something to hold onto. It's real. I can tell you that if I had never met Maureen, I would not be the same person I am today. I don't know that I would have the same faith or strength that I have today. I am not saying that my faith and strength come solely from our meeting, but it certainly opened my heart and mind from the very beginning, at a time when I could’ve easily shut down, and kept them open, to learn, to experience, and to trust. I have already written that my faith and my strength come from God, The Blessed Mother, and my Maddie. In addition, God brought Maureen to me. Maddie brought Maureen to me.
Maureen's own story is a miracle in itself. She was raised by strict Catholic parents and her gift has come from nowhere else, but from Above. Maureen's main focus is in helping children with cancer pass over, but also in counseling grieving loved ones, helping to find missing children, and running her non-profit organization “Seeds of Hope.” Maureen never charged me for any of our meetings. She never wanted anything from me.
Maureen first learned of our story through a mutual friend, whom she grew up with, and we had it set up for her to come to the hospital to meet us the day before Maddie passed. Of course, we had no idea of what was to come. I wish to God I was able to have her in the room with Maddie, Ernie and I, that day, but it wasn't meant to be. Maddie went into cardiac arrest that day and we cancelled Maureen's visit. However, Maureen texted my friend, and told her she knew Maddie was passing and that she needed to talk to me. Maddie passed the next day around noon.
Maureen came to me, the morning of Maddie's wake. I was very nervous to talk with her. I had never known a Medium or what it was all about. I was so numb, raw, in shock, and didn’t know what to expect. Maureen took my hands and began to smile as she talked. She knew everything that happened in that ICU room, knew the words I was saying to Maddie, knew I was saying them in her ear, her left ear, knew where I was kissing her on her face, knew it all. Nobody would know those things unless they were in that room. Nobody. So many intimate details.
Maureen acted like Maddie, spoke her words, her catch phrases, knew her "peace out" sign, her dance, her favorite colors pink and yellow, her brothers. She knew about the dog, Maddie's boxing glove necklace I was wearing, that I'm supposed to pass on. She knew about Ernie’s father, who has passed, whom we believe was one of the Angels who took Maddie’s hand when she passed, and so much more. She knew what I was preparing for the wake. She knew about the music I chose. She knew there would be a lot of people at the wake, and Maddie wanted her to tell me that she would be standing behind me the whole time, with her arms on my shoulders. That is how I was able to stand. She knew we were going to release balloons at the funeral, and none of it had even happened yet. She knew what the kids had all hung in the windows at school in honor of Maddie. We hadn’t even seen it yet. She knew it all. She knew Maddie.
Most importantly, she told me that Maddie is SO happy. She has her hair, she is healthy again. She assured me that Maddie is not sad or missing us. God wouldn’t allow His Angels to feel heartache. She said Maddie said that she “doesn’t feel gone.” That she is “still right here.” She told me that Maddie is going to be “my teacher.” I believe that. She already is.
Sure you can be skeptical and think Maureen read our website, but not only had I not written about some of the things she knew, they hadn’t happened yet.
I can't go into all that Maureen graced me with that day. It's too emotional, but I can tell you that I was a different person after our meeting. I could at least breath. I knew my baby was in a beautiful place. It didn't ease my pain, but did bring comfort, having it made known to me that it is REAL. Heaven does exist, Maddie is still with us. The words I am writing now don't even scratch the surface. I have been blessed in so many amazing ways, aside from the gift of Maureen. Gifts while Maddie was still with us, and gifts after she passed, so many stories, but I don’t know if there will come a day when or if I am ready, or supposed to, share it all.
I got to speak with Maureen again, when to my complete shock and surprise, she called me that first Thanksgiving, because "Maddie knew I needed her" and proceeded to talk to me about what I had been saying to my sister up in Maddie's bedroom, verbatim. VERBATIM! Knew where the boys and Ernie were, and what they were doing. She spoke to me the words that Maddie needed me to hear.
Maureen called me that first Christmas Eve. Again, knew my private thoughts, knew my exact words and things I was doing. Again, gave me messages from Maddie. She didn't have to do this. She works with hundreds of people and has a family of her own. She apologized to me both times for calling on a holiday, but said "Maddie would not give up!" Apologize?! Are you kidding me?! I was SO grateful!
I have since had a few readings with Maureen, and I could go on and on, but I won't. I chose to tell what I have told because I hope it will bring faith, hope, and peace into your hearts. I hope it will help bring comfort to others grieving, that there is a Heaven, our loved ones are safe, loved, and happy. It doesn't take away our pain, but it does give a measure of comfort. How could it not? Like I said, had I never met Maureen, I would be a very different person.
I want to share one thing that Maureen specifically told me about Maddie's role in Heaven. Now that you’ve followed along, about my experiences with Maureen, this is where I get back to the story shared by CC on the guest log , that I mentioned in the beginning, and tie it all together...
Maddie is "very busy." In addition to her watching over us all every day, she takes care of all the little kids, the animals, and most importantly, she helps other children cross over. I now know this is true.
When CC went to visit her friend's daughter at Children's Hospital and was leaving the 10th floor, the elevator stopped and opened on the 6th floor, not the 5th, as CC wrote. The 6th floor is the pediatric oncology floor, where Maddie spent her time. The beautiful little bald girl standing there with her Mom, spotted CC’s butterfly charm necklace from inside the elevator, complimented it, and then told her Mom that was "Maddie's friend." The silver butterfly charm she was wearing is the same one I have given Maddie's girlfriends and some of my friends. The same butterfly the tattoos are designed from. CC and this girl and her Mom have never met or even seen other before. There is NO way to explain how that little girl noticed the necklace and knew this woman, my friend, was “Maddie's friend,” unless you believe Maddie has visited her and is with her. There is no other explanation. It gets even more amazing.
The mother tried to stop the door so she could get on and talk to CC. They met up by chance again in the lobby inside Au Bon Pain. Again, the girl pointed and told her Mom it was "Maddie's friend." The mother approached CC and asked if she could talk to her. She asked CC if she knew a Maddie. They did not know Maddie. Her daughter is terminal and has been on heavy pain control meds, so she and her husband thought she had been hallucinating. She said her daughter talks about a little girl, Maddie, who comes to her in her dreams and tells her it's going to be alright, she is going to go Home. Her little girl is not hallucinating. I know in my heart, Maddie is one of her Angels.
After CC told me this story, I immediately called "Cookie." She was so amazed but has always told me she knows Maddie is on the 6th floor. She feels her presence and knows Maddie is around the other children and with her, as she does her nightly “nurse duties” that Maddie used to love helping her out with. She is trying to find out who the little girl and her Mom are. We still don't know who they were. I wish I knew who this woman and her daughter were. I would love to meet them. If it's meant to be, maybe I will one day, somehow. I would love to ask this little girl about her conversations with Maddie.
I do know Angels come to comfort us in the days before we pass, because of what Maddie shared with me before she was intubated. I know Maddie saw and heard from her Angels in the days before she passed. I know they were there at that moment when she passed. She broke through her paralytic drugs and reached up to Heaven. They were there and what she was seeing must have been extraordinary, unbelievably beautiful.
I hope that Mom does not give up hope. Miracles do happen and I pray her daughter does not pass. However, if sadly she does, I would love to meet the Mom and show her Maddie's picture. I will show her the Angel who took her baby girl's hand and brought her to Heaven. I believe it will be Maddie that will take her hand when it is time for her to go Home. Who better to send for this job than Maddie? With her beautiful smile, her infectious giggle, her caring heart. She is an Angel, with a very special role.
Thursday-- April 8th
This week so far has been very emotional for me.
For starters, when reflecting back on his birthday, William said, "Mom, I know wishes don't come true." "Oh yeh, how do you know that?" "Because the two things I wished for on my birthday didn't come true. I wished for Maddie to be alive again and for my own little puppy." I wish I could make those wishes come true. Well, the Maddie one anyway, not so much on the puppy one... Then Thomas piped in, "Imagine if the front doorbell rang and we opened the door and Maddie was standing there?" Then he acted out how he would go running and screaming and grab her, and "kiss and hug her."
I think about the mothers and families who have soldiers away at war for months on end, or kids away for whatever reason, and what their reunions must be like when their loved ones come home to the front door. Home again, safe and sound. That must be so amazing. I know Maddie will never be on my doorstep again, but I will show up on hers one day. She will greet me when I ring the bell at Heaven's gate.
Thomas slept out in the pop up camper with Ernie the other night. Ernie had set it up in the backyard over the weekend for fun. After Thomas fell asleep, Ernie came back inside to watch tv for a bit, so Thomas was alone in the camper sleeping. The next day, Thomas was very excited to tell me an amazing story. He told me he woke up during the night because he felt someone tapping him on the leg and thought he heard breathing. He felt like someone was there. He said it was Maddie. He looked around and Ernie was still in the house. He came inside and told Ernie the same story. Did she visit him or was he dreaming? He talks about her a lot.
Yesterday afternoon, William and Thomas were playing the Wii Sports game and they set up their Bobsled team. They called me into the room to watch. There was their team, Michael, Maddie, William and Thomas, all resembling them true to life (if you've ever seen a self designed Mii character it's pretty true to life for a video game). So, the whistle blew and the four of them pushed their sled together, as they ran alongside and then hopped in. It looked so real, I could imagine it, my kids all together again as a team and I had to leave the room because it made me cry.
Been cleaning out the closets and drawers, purging. In fact, planning a yard sale on Sat. Not getting rid of any of Maddie's stuff, but just stuff. Anyway, in my top drawer, was a brown folded tissue. As soon as I saw it I remembered what it was. Inside is some of Maddie's hair. Her hair from the very first time we cut it short when she first began her chemo, knowing she was going to lose it. I fell to pieces. To actually hold a real piece of my girl again. Her baby soft hair. It still smelled like clean shampoo. I thought back to that night when we cut it. My hairdresser came to our house to do that. Maddie was so mad at me because I had her cut it shorter than Maddie wanted it. I thought I was doing the best thing for her, knowing how hard it would be when it started to fall out. Anyway, only a few weeks later, I was shaving it all off in the hospital. She had such beautiful hair. I always told her I wished I had soft hair like her.
Ran out yesterday to find some new sneakers for my PMC riding. As always, Moms shopping with their daughters. Looked at all the girl shoes and sneakers and just sat there on the bench in a daze, thinking about Maddie. She had her own style. She would love a lot of the new things that are out today.
Last night tried working on my short speeches for the 6th grade promotion and our fundraiser on May 22nd. Couldn't keep myself together. Dreading having to do both. Need to say something poignant and at the same time try to keep myself from getting too emotional, especially for the 6th grade promotion. So scared to stand up that day, look out at all of the faces of Maddie's classmates and friends, and try to keep myself composed and say the right things.
Anyway, I've got so much to do and here I sit rambling. I know this entry is a downer and I feel the need to apologize for that, to those of you reading it, however, this is where I am today and I need to get it out. Grief really is a roller coaster ride that you can't get off of. I always hated roller coasters.
Monday-- April 5th
Hope everyone had a nice Easter. We couldn't have had better weather!
We had such a busy week leading up to Easter. Ernie's sister, Michelle, and her daughter, Natalie, stayed with us Tuesday night. They were in the area from Virginia, checking out colleges. Lauren came to visit from Wed. until Saturday afternoon, on her college school break. She’ll be graduating this May. William and Thomas immediately talked her into seeing their new bunk beds. I always have to be on guard when someone visits now, make sure the beds are made, before the bunk bed tour! Michael was so psyched when he beat her in a game of Scrabble! He has really taken a liking to the game. It was a nice visit, and as she was on her way out to go back home, my parents, my brother, his two kids, Arthur and Jackie, and his girlfriend, Sabina, all arrived - with their dog!
William's birthday was on Saturday, so he was excited we had guests here for his day. He turned 8! He was so excited, but he was so embarrassed that I put balloons on the mailbox for him! So hard to believe he is 8. He said he didn't want to have a party this year and the only thing he wanted was money. So, that's how it went. Then of course, at bath time on his birthday, he told me that he "actually did kind of want a party!" So, I may do a little something with a few friends this week, and I'll bring brownies into school.
Thomas was upset as William's birthday was approaching. He said, "I don't want William to turn 8 because then he'll die soon..." That broke my heart. It really showed me how his little mind is thinking, showed his fear and anxieties about himself and all of us for the future, and how he has processed some things. Of course, I had a long talk with him and hopefully, helped ease some of his anxieties.
So Saturday night, we just hung out and barbequed. Later in the night, it was great to get help stuffing the eggs, a usually dreaded part of our Easter tradition, from Lorraine, who had come over with her gang for a burger, and Sabina. We were up very late. Before bed, Art offered to help me hide the eggs out back. As he was walking around, I was trying to nail him with jelly beans. Don't have the softball throwing arm like I used to, and Art moved pretty fast!
Everyone went to bed and I stayed up to sit with my thoughts. Had a hard night, but knew the kids were all excited about the Easter Bunny coming and knew I'd have to be up at the crack of dawn!
The kids all grabbed their baskets. Except William...he grabbed the huge storage box, and yelled, "Yeh baby! This is what I'm using!" He barley fit through the back door with it, and it was so hard for him to carry. It was so funny. It was a nice morning for the kids and Jeanne and her family stopped by later in the day – with their dog!
I went down to hang balloons and bring Maddie's Easter basket and eggs. People had left her flowers and gifts. Thank you Caroline, for the walnut heart necklace. Don't know if you know this, but the little girl who makes those, is a dear friend of ours. Her name is Hanna and she and Maddie were friends in the hospital, where we first met their family. Her Dad is the one who just got the Maddie butterfly tattoo. So, I was so surprised to see a "Hanna's Hearts" necklace. Small world.
There was a flower, a sparkly butterfly clip, and a beautiful butterfly candle left for me with a card. It was signed by a woman named Cindy. Thank you Cindy for the beautiful gift and I hope we do meet one day. You are all so thoughtful and I thank you for visiting Maddie for Easter. Thank you to everyone who sent a card and/or beautiful email. As always, your love and support is so greatly appreciated!
My parents left this morning. Before they left, we went down to visit with Maddie. My parents actually bought two plots next to Maddie and they wanted to see their sites. I stood looking up, as I always do, and prayed to Maddie in my thoughts, "Please Maddie, send us a sign so Mammy and Pop Pop can see it. Please send me a hawk." Few seconds later, there it was! I said, "There it is! I just asked Maddie to send a hawk!" It was so high up, started out as a dot, but I spotted it. It just drifted slowly by. Thank you Maddie.
Anyway, I'll end with a funny one. William asked me, "When I go to college will you be an old lady?" I said, "Well, I'll be 10 years older than I am now. Why?" He said," 'Cause I wanna live away at college." I asked, "What does that have to do with me being an old lady?" He said, " 'Cause old ladies are naggy and don't let young people do anything fun." I said, "So, you think if I'm an old lady, I'll come to your college, nag you, and ruin your fun?" He said, "Yes!" We both laughed and then I told him, "Don't worry, I'll just come visit and crash on your couch every now and then, and as long as I can make my way to your bathroom, without my walker getting stuck on your laundry piles and pizza boxes, to pluck my chin whiskers and wash out my dentures, I promise not to nag you! Well, actually, the only time I might need to nag you, is if I need you to hand me a Depends Diaper into the bathroom. So, are we cool?"
You should've seen his face... We both laughed and then he said, "I love you Mom." "I love you too."