Thursday-- March 24th

Maddie's birthday was much harder for me than even I could have anticipated. I woke up wishing the day was over already. After I got the boys off to school, I was getting into my car to go visit with Maddie and bring her balloons. I was praying I would receive many signs on this day. I got my very first one in the driveway. My neighbor, Patti, pulled into my driveway. She had just gone out to get Maddie balloons too and also had a gift for me. She was so excited and moved by how this gift came to be and was convinced it was a sign from Maddie on her big day. She told me she was in the store and the saleswoman was unwrapping it, to put it out for display. Her jaw dropped when she saw the "Never Never Never Give Up" plaque being unwrapped. Can you believe it?! She was letting Patti know she was there on her birthday as Patti was buying her balloons. Patti asked the woman how many of them she had and she was told only two. Patti bought one for me and one for herself. Of all things the saleswoman could've been unwrapping and at any time of the day, Patti was there shopping for Maddie and there was the first sign! Thank you!

Spent a lot of time with Maddie. Balloons everywhere. Went back a few times throughout the day. Each time I did, there was something new left by someone else. Maddie had a lot of visitors. She received flowers, a wind up butterfly, a pink and yellow nylon butterfly, balloons. Seeing how loved, missed, and thought of Maddie was on her birthday, made me feel that much better. Friends didn't forget her. I don't know why, but I'm always so afraid of that happening. Time will go by and people will forget... I hate that thought and I'm sure I'm wrong. Who could forget Maddie? She's still working her magic here.

I did do something very special for Maddie's birthday. I spent an hour of private time with Maureen Hancock's niece, Anastassia Grace, a beautiful, compassionate, truly blessed Medium. I arrived there a little early and I was a complete basket case. I was so emotional and could not contain myself. After receiving messages from Anastassia, from Maddie, things only Maddie could know, I truly felt like I spent an hour with Maddie on her birthday. It was an amazing, spiritual, and comforting time, as hard as it was. Maddie knows everything I am doing, and saying to her. She knows my thoughts, my fears, my heartache, my questions. She knows me better than I know myself. Anastassia touched on it all. Maddie was with me. I got to be with her for an hour on her birthday, through the gift of Anastassia, who receives her gift from God. Maddie was with me before I got there, when I left there, and is with me always. I'll write more about my visit another time.

After my visit, I came home and ran to the store. I checked three stores for Good N Plenty and ended up in Rite Aid pharmacy. I never go in there. I turned a corner and bumped into Pam/Cookie, Maddie's nurse! Of all places and times to run into her. We both kind of looked at each other in surprise. We talked for a brief moment and left. I thought about that run in for a while. Did Maddie send us both in there to see each other, to connect on her birthday? I think so. Funny thing is, so does Pam. I got a call from Pam the next day. She said she couldn't stop thinking about our run in. She never goes there either and was looking for something fluky for one of her kids that she couldn't find. She, like me, believes Maddie wanted us to see each other on her birthday. I wonder why. I never bump into Pam. Maddie always sends me someone when she knows I need someone. Strange thing is, the next day or so, I ran into Pam a second time. Hmmm, Maddie's trying to tell us something...

Didn't know how the rest of the day would play out. I hadn't planned a gathering like I had in the past. I know Michael didn't want to do anything and the other boys wanted to have a party. I didn't think I could handle a party. Having all her friends together without her is very hard, and I was having an incredibly hard time. Plans changed when Thomas got off the bus and asked what time Maddie's party was starting. When I told him I hadn't planned a party, his eyes filled with tears and he said, "I don't understand why we wouldn't have a party for Maddie on her birthday." I felt terrible. We talked about it and he said it was always special to him to send her balloons with messages, with the family and her friends. He said that was always a good memory for him. He was right. So, I called whichever friend I could get a hold of last minute and asked them all to run down to send up a balloon for Maddie. They were here in a flash. It was so last minute and so unorganized, so not all of her friends got to be here, and again, I felt terribly, but I will try to plan a special time for us to do it again.

I realize that her friends need to do this every year, along with Thomas and William. I think me too. Ernie could go either way and Michael needs his space at these times. Her friends, they need to be together and they need to "talk " to her. By the lengthy writings on their balloons, they have a lot they want to say to her. Balloons with messages. If you watch the kids writing, kiss their balloon, send them up, and watching them until they disappear, it's such a sad, but beautiful moment, We all truly believe Maddie is getting our balloons with our messages. I know she is. We all kissed them and yelled "Happy Birthday Maddie!" before sending them off. No cake, no singing, but Maddie knows we didn't forget! She received our loving thoughts and messages! Later that day, I went out onto Maddie's roof with William and Thomas and we each released another balloon.

We did eat Good N Plenty that night and chocolate cupcakes baked by our friend Abigail. Thank you! Thank you to our wonderful friends who left homemade treats, flowers, balloons, and more at our house. Thank you for your emails, your phone calls, your cards. We are so grateful for your friendship and love.
Hope your birthday was a great one up there Maddie!

Life has been busy here. My parents have been living with us since the end of Feb., while they were waiting for their closing on their new condo in Bellingham. They moved up from CT. I can assure you Maddie had a hand in everything that transpired for them. Of all the days in a year, and after their CT condo had been on the market for a year and a half and several deals fell through, they found their new place up here, in the complex they wanted, and closed on MARCH 15th - Maddie's birthday! Coincidence - I don't think so! They will officially move in tomorrow. We have been over there for days, painting and cleaning. It will be nice having them close by.

March 5th we co-hosted the 4th annual Cocktails For A Cure party with the Duffy's and Thursby's, in memory of Maddie and Meghan. It was a great night and we raised close to $30K for our PMC team, Pedals For Pediatrics! Now we're working on hosting the next one, Maddie's Mission of Hope, with our local team members, on April 9th. It's right around the corner and so much work to still be done. This will be our second annual. Last year, we raised close to $30K. It was awesome and I can only hope that it will be even bigger and better this year. If you'd like to come, please email me and I will send you the information (

It's nice to see that Spring is trying to make its way. Good to see the grass again. We found all of our sleds that had been hidden under the snow. I had the boys come outside with me to pick them all up and put them in the garage. I picked up the red saucer, and stuck to it, was a leaf, with a perfect heart cut out in the middle. Unbelievable! The one sled I chose, and after all that snow, rain, and mud, Maddie still managed to stick a heart on it for me!

I went to lunch duty for Thomas yesterday. In the office, I ran into a teacher who lost her husband to cancer last July. She is having a tough time and we chatted for a minute. Of course, that started my wheels turning and my thoughts going. Was missing Maddie. Walked down to the lunch room. Love seeing all the kids. They really have fun with me and we crack each other up. We went out to recess and the girls asked me to play with them. I did for a few minutes then stood off to the side. I was chatting with a teacher when a little boy ran over and said he found a penny. I wanted to ask him what the year was on it. I just felt really compelled to do that, but I didn't. A few minutes later, he ran back over to show us he found a dime. I was still bothered that I hadn't asked him the year on the penny. Now he was back and it was my chance. I asked him the year on the dime. 2005. Then I asked him to take the penny back out of his pocket asked him if I could please see the year on it. IT WAS 1998!!! I knew it! Maddie’s birth year! I truly knew it would be 1998!! Isn't that amazing!? Maddie tried to give me a sign the first time and when I didn't receive it, she made sure to send the messenger back a second time!! I find it so amazing! You may all think I'm nuts, but I KNEW it was going to be 1998! You're awesome Maddie! I got it!


Tuesday-- March 15th

Happy 13th Birthday Maddie Girl! It's a big one! Our girl would be a teenager today!

She was born at 8:27pm, weighed 6lbs. 6oz., was 19 in. long. She came into this world with a fight! She was purple and so tiny, but thank God, perfectly healthy! I had a girl!!

Don't quite know what to do for Maddie's birthday or what to even write. Just feel at a total, overwhelming loss. Feels so wrong not getting up early to hang the Happy Birthday banners around the house. Is she upset, looking down? Does she want me to hang them and celebrate? Probably wouldn't help any of us to feel better. Would probably make things worse. I have to get down to the cemetery and hang her birthday balloons...

The 12 o'clock Sunday mass was an offertory mass for Maddie, in honor of her birthday. Msgr. did a beautiful job adding a personal line or two about Maddie. I felt so loved and supported by the fact that all of Maddie's best pals were there, two seated right behind me. I am so grateful for the love and support that continues to be shown to us, especially during very difficult days. I knew going there I was going to have a hard time and prayed to Maddie and God before hand, to help me get through it. I didn't do a very good job holding back my tears, could barely contain myself. The void left by Maddie is just so raw, so painful, so real, and so incredibly huge. I miss her so unbearably.

Aside from my own heartbreak, and of course, my family's, I hurt for her friends. They all wore their silver Maddie butterfly necklaces. I almost didn't want to turn around to look in their eyes. I was so afraid to break down. I took a deep breath before I had to turn for the "sign of peace" exchange. Of course, one friend gave me the "peace sign." I couldn't even give it back, but I was so grateful to receive it. I miss seeing it every morning. I gave each of the girls a hug and kiss. I really love them all. I think of Maddie's friends all so often. They must miss her terribly. It's so damn sad.

I check in on Maddie's friends on Face Book. Look at their pictures, read their silly lines. I see how grown up they are all getting, what they are all up to, who they are befriending, hanging out with. I try to picture Maddie's face among them. In the group photos, she's missing. I know right where she would be. I miss her more than I can ever describe and the pain is no less with time.

13. Would Maddie be into make up? I don't think so. Maybe nail polish. Make up? I don't know. If so, then maybe just a little bit. Not a lot. The natural look. She was so pretty and at 13, I can only imagine how much more beautiful she would've been becoming. She was truly beautiful. Not just beautiful, but cool, funny, and so engaging. I'm sure she would've had many crushes by now and I'm sure the boys would've had crushes on her. She'd have her cell phone, be texting, giggling, like all the rest of them. I think her fashion sense would still be pretty similar. Plain, relaxed, no frills. Who knows? I could be wrong.

Funny how Maddie used to use my make up to draw cat or clown faces on herself. She would ruin my lipstick or eyeliner in the process and sometimes I'd get annoyed, but she always did do an amazing artistic job on herself! Now at 13, she probably would've been using my eyeliner on her beautiful light brown, twinkling eyes. Noticed all her friends are wearing eyeliner now. When Maddie was about 6, I had fun one day with her, putting her hair up and putting make up on her. She had been standing in the bathroom watching me put make up on, so I decided I would make her up too. I wanted to see what she would look like when she was older, wearing make-up. She loved it. She looked so pretty. I took her picture and it's still one of my favorites. I'm so glad we had that time to play with make up together...

13. I wonder if she would've been borrowing things of mine. Clothes, make up, jewelry, perfume. Although she probably would've told me my things were outdated, so maybe I would've been borrowing things from her! I still have "the ugliest shirt Maddie ever saw" hanging in my closet. And I thought that one was cool! We did love the same body spray. I still have our favorite Bath and Body Cotton Blossom body spray. I combined what was left in her bottle and mine and use it sparingly. It means so much to me and I don't want the bottle to run out.

13. I would've loved to have taken her out for a Mom/Teenage Daughter celebration with her friends and then just the two of us. I wonder what she would've chosen to do with her friends. We could've gone for a manicure. Something I never do. We never got to do that together. Or dinner and a movie, or shopping for a new outfit. I don't know. I probably would've bought her a really special little jewelry trinket for her special day or given her something sentimental of mine. I'm sure she would've hit Ernie up for a shiny new fishing pole and a skipped day of school for a fishing day with Dad! We would've had a family dinner. She would've requested her favorite, lobster, and then we would've had a cookie cake for dessert or a stack of brownies

I don't think we are going to do anything big. I asked the boys what they would each like to do. They all had differing opinions. I guess the day will just play out on its own. I do know I am going to spend a lot of time sitting with Maddie downtown, talking, crying. I'll bring her balloons. I may even eat a box of Good-n- Plenty while I' there, her favorite. I'm sure I'll release balloons with the boys after school and we'll have brownies for dessert.

Someone signed our guest book with a beautiful entry on January 23rd: "You can shed tears that she is gone, or you can smile because she has lived. You can close your eyes and pray that she'll come back, or you can open your eyes and see all she's left. Your heart can be empty because you can't see her, or you can be full of the love you shared. You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday. You can remember her only that she is gone, or you can cherish her memory and let it live on. You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back, or you can do what she'd want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on."

Beautiful writing but, unfortunately, grief isn't so cut and dry. There is no "or." There is "and" and "but." I do shed tears, and I do smile. I do not pray she'll come back because I know she won't and I certainly have my eyes open to all she's left. My heart is empty because I can't see her, touch her, hear her, smell her, and I am so full of the love we shared. I sometimes live in yesterday because I want it back but I am grateful for all the tomorrows, because of the yesterdays. I do remember that she is gone, every second of every day and I do cherish her memory and let it live on. I do cry, every day, but my mind has never been more open in my life. My heart does have an emptiness where Maddie once was, but I don't turn my back. I do what I know Maddie would want. I smile, I have my eyes open and I go on each day, but always with a broken heart.

Grief is such a horrible, lifetime process. I don't know what the rest of the grief process is going to be like, I just know that I can only do my best with it all each new day. I continue to pray to God and the Blessed Mother for strength, guidance and peace, and continue talking to my Maddie, asking her to stick with me every second of this journey.

A friend wrote this is honor of Maddie's birthday and I think it's mean to be shared:

Turned 13 in Heaven today, far away from this Earth
Celebrate today as you did the day of my birth!
With laughter and joy not sadness and tears
Cherish memories of my short earth lived years
I hear you, I see you, each day and each night
See my brothers reading, say prayers, you kiss them goodnight.
The last thing you feel is my arms hold you tight
You're never alone Mom when you turn out the light.

Happy Birthday Pumpkin! I love you! Get that party started up there! No smooshing any Angel's faces into the cake! You know that trick you used to do..."Yum, smell this." Smoosh! If you get a free second, during your celebration, send me a rainbow! OK, send me any sign! I'll be eagerly waiting all day!


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