Wednesday -- May 27th

I finalized Maddie's headstone on Friday.  It will probably be done and put down at her site this week.  It’s going to be so beautiful, and I know Maddie is going to love it.  The boys will be so glad to see their sister get her stone.  They have been so anxiously waiting.  When I went to finalize it all, John, the owner, who is also the one doing the engraving, handed the most beautiful gift.  He had the same picture we are putting on Maddie's stone turned into a necklace for me.  I was so touched and so caught off guard and just started to cry.  He said, "Now you'll always have her with you."  Isn't that the sweetest gift?

Thursday night Ernie went up to New Hampshire to pick up his Mom at his brother's house.  She had flown in from Michigan for the weekend and came to stay with us, to help Ernie work in the garden he created for Maddie, "Maddie's Garden."  He has built a beautiful pond on the side of the house and we invited Maddie's friends to come over throughout the weekend, to bring a flower of their choice to be planted in the garden. That makes it that much more special.

It was so nice to see all our friends throughout the weekend.  Thank you to everyone who brought a flower. 
We have the beautiful yellow butterfly house, given to us by a Bunco group in town, centered in the garden.  So Ernie and his Mom planted from Friday until Sunday afternoon.  It turned out so incredibly beautiful. Ernie did an amazing job and we are so grateful to his Mom, Mary, for all of her help. Mary left Monday morning.  Mary, thank you so very much for all you did.

I got in  three PMC training rides this weekend with Amy.  We’re up to 17 miles,  but we’ll up it to at least 25 miles this weekend.

Thomas had his very first TBall game on Saturday morning.  He was so excited that it wasn't just practice.

He had a blast and did great! He hit 2 Grand Slam homeruns!  Of course, that was because he was the last batter up and they wanted to bring the runners in each time.  There are no winners or losers in TBall.  It's very cute.

I cleaned out the garage on Sunday.  Dumped out a bucket of sports equipment and found Maddie's soccer cleats and shin guards. Put them back into the bin.  Maybe William or Thomas will wear them one day.  Dusted off her pink bike and clipped her pink flowered helmet to the handle bars.  I found one of her old training wheels and put it in the front basket of the bike, just to keep it all together. Don’t know what happened to the other training wheel.  Maddie always had to have a front basket on her bike, for her stuffed animals or picnics.

My very last memory of Maddie on that bike was when I told her she was going to have to go back into the hospital. She and I were sitting outside and she got so mad.  She started yelling that she was not going.  She was not going to do it, no matter what anyone said!  She hopped onto her bike and took off down the road, without her helmet on.  Michael tried to go after her, but I told him to let her go.  She needed to go and scream, yell, cry, ride.  Whatever she needed to do.  It's so hard to see that bike, because of that memory, and because I will never see Maddie ride it again.  She and I had actually been talking about getting her a new bike this summer.  The two of us had found that one at a yard sale two years ago and she was ready for a new one.

Memorial Day on Monday.  Ernie and I ran downtown with William and Thomas to catch the parade, but we had missed it.  It started in the cemetery and marched into the center of town.  We went down to the cemetery and saw all of the white carnations that were placed on the headstones of Veterans.  We sat at Maddie's site and someone had honored her with a white carnation and a bullet casing. They had placed them both in front of her picture. That was incredible.  Nobody else, other than soldiers, had been honored, but our little girl.  We were so touched.  I wish I knew who did it so I could thank him.  William asked if he could take the bullet casing home.  We let him do that.  He was so proud that someone had honored Maddie and he wants to take it to school for show and tell.

We got a visit at the house from a group of very special girls, Eliza and Chloe Sheehan, their Mom, Nicole, and Caroline Wilkins and her Mom, Janine. These three girls had a lemonade sale and raised $16.  They decided that they would like to donate the money to me, for my PMC ride, in honor of Maddie. I was so touched.  They came over with the check (their parents had matched their total), and a beautiful flower to put into Maddie's butterfly garden.  They stayed for a few minutes and I explained where their money will be going, directly to tangible things, on the floors where Maddie had stayed, to help other patients and families. I gave each of the girls one of the butterfly charms that I have given Maddie's friends.  It gives me such a warm feeling when I bump into one of them around town or in school, and I see them wearing their Maddie butterfly around their neck.  Thank you girls, for your incredibly generous and thoughtful gift.  That was very special. It was so nice to meet you.

Monday afternoon we took the boys to the local beach - Sweat Beach.  We all had to climb, or be thrown over, the chain link fence that was still locked.  The beach wasn't officially open, but people were on it. The boys swam for a bit in the water and I built a sand castle, or sand lump, with Michael.

After the beach, we showered and took the boys out to dinner.  It's still so hard to ask for seating for 5 instead of 6. I wonder when saying 5 will feel complete, if ever.  I wonder if we'll ever be driving in the car, and instead of looking back and seeing an empty seat, I'll look back and feel complete.  When we're sitting at a restaurant table, will I ever be ok with an empty seat staring at me, or not having to squeeze tighter into the booth bench to fit us all.  Will I ever be able to read the menu and not be thinking about what Maddie would order if she were there.  Whatever we may do, instead of being so aware of a void, will it ever feel complete? God, I hope so.  I hope the boys don't feel the void as strongly and as often as I do, although I'm sure they do.  I just hope and pray that over time, we can help each other fill the void with happy memories and smiles.

We had a hypothetical conversation at the dinner table.  Thomas asked Ernie what he would do to save him if he was sinking in quick sand.  After Ernie answered him, he asked Thomas the same question.  His answer was so cute and creative.  He said, he would try to pull him out, but then Ernie asked what he would do if he wasn't strong enough.  Thomas said, "Well, then I would run home and get an apple and eat it so it would make me strong and then I could pull you out."  I looked at Michael and we both smiled. Wow, if an apple could work like that, we'd be growing apple trees in Maddie's garden.

The restaurant where we ate (Ruby Tuesday’s) is in the Wrentham Outlets, and after eating, the boys wanted to walk down to the candy shop. Unfortunately, the candy shop had gone out of business. As we walked, I thought about the day Maddie and I shopped there for our trip to Lourdes.  I got really sad and just wanted to get out of there. I saw all the "complete" families shopping, smiling, not a care in the world. That used to be me.  I want that me back.  I want that normal back.  I  want my complete family back.  Damn, I want it back.  I thought about how normal we must look and how nobody knows anything about what we are going through, how we know nothing about these hundreds of families walking around. What is everyone's story?  Everyone has one.

I always catch myself observing other Moms.  Have they lost a child?  I look for signs in them.  I know the signs.  At least I know how it feels, but it must look different on everyone.  I feel like I don't see any other grieving mothers walking around, like I'm the only one.  Of course I'm not the only one, but I feel very rare in the crowd. Kind of disconnected. You want to say, "Excuse me, has any Mom here buried a child?  If so, please step up.  I need to talk to you.  I need to talk to someone who gets it.  Someone who can maybe help me..."

After the outlets we came home and bought a basketball hoop from our neighbors, the Altmeyer's.  Kristen had received two for her birthday.  The boys were so excited. It will be a fun way to get some exercise with them.  After we set it up in the driveway, we went out back, I lit a fire in the chiminea, and we roasted marshmallows.  It was fun until William and Thomas started intentionally dropping their marshmallows into the fire to watch them bubble and explode.  Then they got the idea of throwing worms in there to see what would happen.  That's when we put the fire out and called it a night! 

As the boys were sitting on the kitchen floor before school this morning, playing with their Leggo sticks, out of nowhere, William said, "Mom, the last thing Maddie saw before she died was you and Heaven.  Then the very last thing was Heaven, right?"  I set my coffee down and just nodded yes.  I couldn't talk, I knew I'd cry.  Then I thought about it.  I don't know what the last thing Maddie saw was.  I don't know if it was me.  I do think the last thing she heard was me, talking quietly in her ear. I do know what her last word was. I’ll never forget the way she said it, the tone of her little voice.  It was “Mommy.”  But I don’t know for sure what the very last thing she saw was.

I hate thinking about that moment.  It's just too painful, but I know William has questions and that he thinks about it constantly.  Even when you think he's just playing Leggos.  He always gets me with the serious, hard questions, at such vulnerable moments.  4am, bedtime, morning coffee.  Although, I guess it doesn't matter what time it is.  It will always be hard to hear and answer those questions.

Over the weekend, we got to go over to my friend, Stephanie’s, lake.  The boys swam and threw bread to the ducks.  I sat on the side and watched a mama duck swim by with her 6 little babies.  They all followed in line, picture perfect.  They all quacked and waddled as they swam.  They were all so happy.  Then Stephanie said, “There will probably only be 5 tomorrow and then 4 the next day.  Maybe 3 of the 6 will survive.”  That’s nature.  They get eaten or hit by boats. She’s watched duck families dwindle.

I thought about  the mama. I have often thought about a mother duck and her ducklings. What happens when one of her ducklings is gone the next day?  Does she think and feel like a human does?  Does she feel a void when she counts her ducklings the next day?  She must get horribly sad, but the next day she gets back in the water with the others, and resumes her swimming, grooming, quacking, feeding, teaching, and loving.  She has to keep going, for the sake of the other ducklings, because she loves them as deeply as the lost one.  But how does she really feel?  How does she do it?

Do the baby ducklings notice when one of their siblings is gone?  Do they just automatically assume their new birth order?   Are they always in birth order when they line up or is it random?   What do they feel, despite the fact that they have to get back into line and start each new day? Despite the fact that they’re still quacking, waddling, seeming happy?  Do they feel a void?

If only ducks could speak...

Sunday -- May 18th

The Cops For Kids With Cancer fundraiser Friday night was very nice.  I was able to get up and give my talk about Cops For Kids and Maddie!  I was so nervous and all day long had asked Maddie to hold my hand and make me get up to do it.  I really didn't think I'd be able to do it, but if I didn't do it, it wasn't going to get said, because they wanted it to come from me.  I knew it had to be that night.  Bob Hayden was there and so many others that had met Maddie and it had to be that night, so Ernie stood by my side and I did it!   I cried and paused through much of it, but I did it. That was for you Maddie!

We sold a lot of Maddie's cards and made a nice sum of money for the charity. I was so proud that they were selling so well. I know Maddie was so proud and excited.  Ernie told a friend that he felt Maddie there.  He truly felt her presence in that room.  You could just picture her running up to everyone with her smile, greeting them all.

Saturday morning I took William and Thomas to the peer support group.  Michael didn't want to go and we didn't want to force him.  I dropped the boys off and had to leave.  There were only two other little girls and a twelve year old boy there. I drove around to pass the 2 1/2 hours.  When I returned for the boys, I was 1/2 hour early.  The nurse asked me to come in and let me know it would be "ok to take them early."  They "didn't need to stay for the closing ceremony."  They were getting "restless" and had enough.  2 1/2 hours is a long time to sit in a little room.  The nurse felt that maybe it was too soon after Maddie's passing for them.  She said she would "call" at another time.  In other words, take your kids, get out, and don't call us, we'll call you!  Can you believe that?!  The boys were booted from peer group!  They both hated it anyway!

On the way home from the session, William asked if we could stop to see Maddie's headstone.  It was right on the way.  I had told him it was in, not engraved, but in.  Thomas had seen it the day before with me when I went to approve Maddie's picture. So, we pulled in and got out of the car.  William looked at it and said, "That's not so exciting looking..."  I think he expected to see her name and picture.  He didn't want to look at it anymore.  He said it "looked stupid," and got a sad look on his face.  Thomas distracted himself by running around, looking for little green caterpillars hanging from their strings, off the garage there.

So, I approved Maddie's picture and now I'm hung up on the font.  Yeh, I think it's partly just me having a hard time committing and finalizing.  John, the owner, understands.  His wife passed away in Dec. and he still hasn't engraved her stone.  Like he said, "You want it done, but you don't want it done."  I really do want it done, so I need to look at all my paperwork tonight and pick the font.  I was hoping to have the stone by this next weekend.

Ernie and Michael had a great day in Boston, at the MIT computer convention. They stayed the entire day. Michael came home, having learned so much.  He really is a whiz with the computers.

Mike and Priscilla arrived late afternoon Saturday.  The three of us had a wonderful talk about Maddie and life, before Ernie and Michael got home. We rarely get a quiet time when they visit, so it was nice to sit and talk with them.  Mike wants to get the Maddie butterfly tattoo!  Well, almost...he refuses to get it colored the pink and yellow, but wants to get the outline in black!  Can't blame him.  It'll look great. I'll take him during his next visit.  They brought us a beautiful butterfly bush.  We'll plant it this weekend. It was great to see you guys!

Sat. night we had Paul and Lorraine, Helena Findlen, and of course, Mike and Priscilla, here for dinner.  We had a very nice time. We laughed about the time Mike went over to Lorraine's, rang the doorbell, playing his bagpipes, wearing a sign around his neck that read something to the effect of, "Donations for Maddie Savoie."  Lorraine had not yet met Mike.  She was on the phone with me and told me "not to hang up!"  I had to choke back my laughter as I heard the bagpipes playing next door!  Gosh, that was fun...

Thomas and I had an interesting conversation over the weekend.  He asked me what I was going to do with Maddie's room. I asked him what he meant.  He said, "Mom, when someone dies, you're supposed to sell their room."  Sell their room?  I think he may have meant that you have to sell their belongings and empty out the room. I explained that people don't purchase bedrooms and asked him what we should do with Maddie's room if her things were not in there.  He said we should "save her room for another baby."

Another baby?  What baby?  He said, " Mom, when you have another baby it can be a girl, and we can put her in there and name her Maddie, and then we'll have our Maddie girl back."  Wow...ok, deep breath...I told Thomas that we won't ever have our Maddie girl back.  Even if Mommy ever had another baby (and EVERYONE knows THAT'S not happening!) and it was a girl, it wouldn't be our Maddie girl.  It would be a different girl.  I told him there won't be another baby and told him that we're going to keep Maddie's room the way it is because it's her room, and it reminds us of her, and for now we need to keep it the way it is.  That was a really hard conversation.

It's funny, but our neighbor, Maddie's pal, also suggested I have or acquire another baby.  She told me I should adopt a baby girl, or become a foster mother!  I wonder if they all want me to have another girl to somehow comfort me, or if they all want another girl to somehow comfort themselves.  I think they all so badly want to try to fill a void, a void that will never be filled. We all want to fill that void, but we can’t.

Got a call tonight from a reporter from the Boston Globe.  She is writing a story about Maddie and her relationship with Cops For Kids With Cancer!  Isn't that wonderful!?  It will be in the May 30th or 31st paper, in the Globe South (?) section.  Check it the weekend prior too, in case, I heard it wrong.  I am so honored that they are doing that.

Took William and Thomas out tonight to get a new bike for Thomas.  Because of the whole sizing issue, William ended up getting the new bike and passed his "old" bike down to Thomas.  It made more sense that way.  So, I took all three boys for a bike ride when we got home.  Had to get some sort of exercise this weekend.  I, and the others involved, bagged out of doing a PMC training ride all weekend.

When we got back from our ride, William said, out of the blue, "Mom, you don't cry in front of me very much anymore." I have been trying to get it out when they're at school, so I don't upset them.  I said, "Well, is that a good thing or a bad thing?"  He said, "Bad." I asked, "Why is that a bad thing?" 

"Because Mom, you're not done crying and you need to get it all out."

"OK William. You're right.  I'm not done crying, but you haven't even started yet.  When do you think it will be ok for you to cry?"

"I did cry. Really hard, at her wake." 

"Really?  I didn't see you cry?"

"I sat on the stairs and cried, but then I played a game with the cousins so I would stop crying."

"Oh, I'm sorry I didn't know or I would've given you a hug. I guess we both should just cry when we need to ok?  That would really be ok. That way we can keep getting it out."

I just bathed the boys and William came downstairs wearing Maddie's pink butterfly bathrobe.  He said, "Hi, it's me.  I'm back from Heaven."  If only that could really happen.  I think I must have gotten a sad look on my face, because he looked like he felt badly, and took the robe off. 

It was 7 months yesterday.  7 months...

Well, I guess that's it for tonight.  I hope you all had a nice weekend.  I thought I would share my “speech” from the Cops For Kids benefit Friday night:

When our daughter, Maddie, was first asked by our good friends and neighbors, Helena Findlen and Lorraine Altmeyer, to come along for the Cops For Kids Cancer motorcycle ride in the summer of 07, she was so excited.  Maddie was diagnosed with Stage 4 Ewings Sarcoma in August '06 and she was still fighting her own battle on the day she went to that motorcycle event. She was undergoing chemotherapy and radiation, but nothing was going to stop her from being a part of that day.  Not her physical condition or the hot sun.   Motorcycles and raising money for Kids with Cancer and their families, are you kidding?!  What an awesome day that would be!  So, I reminded her to wear a lot of sunscreen, particularly on her bald little head, and off she went. She couldn't wait to help out in whatever way she was needed at the rally. 

When Maddie got to the rally, she met many people, but she struck up a special friendship with Bob Hayden, a retired Deputy Superintendent of the Boston Police. She was taken with him, and he with her.  Maddie was invited to ride on the back of Bob's bike, to lead the rally!!  Lorraine first called me, of course, to make sure that would be ok.  Of course it was ok!  Maddie would LOVE that!  I would never live it down with Maddie had I said no to a motorcycle ride!  

Maddie and Bob led the way and Bob even pulled off to the side at one point so that Maddie could take in the view of all the riders going by. All for such an amazing cause. How cool was that?  Then they sped back up to the front of the line to finish out the ride.

Maddie came home with the biggest smile on her face and so many exciting details to share!  Especially that of her motorcycle ride with her new friend, Bob.  That was it.  Maddie was hooked.  She was an official volunteer for Cops For Kids With Cancer from that day on. We have the best pictures of Bob and Maddie.  This big, burly, bald man, and our smiling, little, bald girl.  What a pair.

A few months later, we were so humbled and touched when we became one of the recipients of an incredibly generous gift check from Cops For Kids during Maddie's illness.  It was a very stressful time for us and we always hated to ask for, or accept help, but when Cops For Kids With Cancer came to help us, we graciously accepted, knowing that one day we would pay it forward.

What Cops For Kids does for families is immeasurable. To take any kind of stress away from families who are fighting for their child's life, is a God send.  Your gifts are priceless.

Maddie continued volunteering.  She attended hockey games, pulling the raffle names, and threw candy and necklaces at the St. Patrick's Day parade.  She was always present at these events, wearing her glowing, infamous smile, spreading her hope and cheer. Those who met her, will never forget her.

She held lemonade and bake sales at the end of our driveway or next door with her pals, always to raise money for Cops For Kids.  She made jewelry to pass the time in the hospital, again to raise money for Cops For Kids.  She was devoted to your cause.

Maddie had fought the toughest 2 1/2 year battle, and as a result of her treatments, had developed a new cancer.  After going into the hospital in August for a bone marrow transplant, God decided it was time to take her Home, to light up the Heavens on October 16th. Maddie was 10 years old.

Bob came to see Maddie the morning that she passed away.  He had no idea just how critical she was. She never got to open her eyes, but she heard him.  She knew he was there, felt him hold her hand and gently kiss her forehead. I know she was happy he visited. If she could've spoken to him, I bet she would've talked about their ride together, and ask him if she could ride with him again at the next ride. Bob left, but not before handing me a beautifully wrapped gift to give to Maddie.

We didn't tell Maddie that she had missed that next ride while she was in the hospital. We knew that would  upset her.  Bob did attend that ride, hoping to ride with Maddie again, but when he learned that Maddie wasn't there, that she was in the hospital, he turned and went home without riding. His heart was broken.  It wouldn't be the same without Maddie.  How a little girl touched this big, strong, tough guy, brought us all to tears.

All through her battle, Maddie never removed her Cops For Kids blue rubber bracelet.  She wore it faithfully, from the day she got it, and even wore it up to Heaven, along with a beautiful silver heart locket Bob had given her on the day of his visit to the hospital.  Now she can share her story with all of the Angels, show off her bracelet and necklace, and recruit all of them to help out with extra prayers for all of the families that continue to struggle.  For all the families that Cops For Kids With Cancer will help. She wants to keep the fight going for others.

In lieu of flowers for Maddie's wake, we asked that people make donations to Maddie's two favorite charities, Cops For Kids, and the Paul Newman Hole In The Wall Gang Camps. That was what Maddie would've wanted. She was all about giving and I got to see firsthand how those donations were used. I had the privilege of being present during a check presentation from Cops For Kids, that just so happened to be to the family of one of Maddie's friends from the hospital.  Knowing my Maddie was behind this gift, brought me so much pride. I know what an amazing gift that was to that family and I know Maddie was smiling down on us on that day.

Cops For Kids has brought so many people together, and we hope it will continue to go on doing so.  The gifts of hope you give, the gifts of monetary and emotional support, is what true friendship and love is all about. True selflessness. That is what the spirit of Maddie embodied, and that is what the spirit of Cops For Kids embodies.

People are brought into each other's lives for a reason.  There is a reason why Maddie came to be a part of the lives of Cops For Kids and Bob, and there is a reason why Cops for Kids and Bob are now forever a part of our lives.  Thank you Maddie, for bringing us all together. We will continue to raise money and help others and we will make you proud!

Our commitment to this charity will continue indefinitely, because Maddie's commitment did not end here on Earth.  We'll make sure of that. We have been selling Maddie's artwork that we had made into cards, to raise money, and have several more projects in the works. In fact, we're selling Maddie's cards here tonight, and if Etty Rafferty hasn't hit you up for a sale yet, she's coming, she'll track you down!  All the proceeds to go to Maddie's charities.

So, you haven't heard the last from Maddie and now you're stuck with her parents.  In fact, I already have my first gig lined up...a motorcycle ride on the back of Bob Hayden's bike at the next event, the Flight of The Angels, on September 27th.  He promised to take me on the same route he took Maddie.  Through tears and smiles, I will ride for her. I can only hope that her presence will be felt by everyone, on that day and always.  

God Bless Cops For Kids!  Thank you.

Maddie's Mom - Kristen Savoie

Friday -- May 15th

Don't you love playing the "Write letters on my back and I'll guess what they are" game? It's the best way to sucker your little ones into giving you a free massage!  Got William to play last night.  As I was falling asleep, he said, "OK my turn. Mom. Mom? Hey, how come I never get a turn?" We were both asleep in 5 minutes. I owe him one.

We went as a family to our grief counseling meeting this Wed. We hadn't all gone as a family since Christmas.  I usually take the boys. It was intense as usual.  Lots of silence, lots of tension.  Everyone truly is in such a different place.  We're dealing with 5 people, all different ages, all different's a lot.  We'll keep going indefinitely.  We have to.  It will take a very long time to come to a normal, safe, good place, but we're trying like hell.

The boys couldn't get out of that room fast enough.  They really don't like going.  I was the last one out the door and the counselor asked me if I was ok?  OK? I don't know if she asked me that because of all that is going on with the family, the look of stress in my face, or the fact that I HAD to straighten out the picture on the wall before I left!  It was bothering me the whole session!  That was ONE thing I could control in that session.  The one thing I COULD fix...the only thing!

Michael finished up with his MCAS tests this week.  He's glad they're done and thinks he did well. 

Thomas' stuffy nose is easing up a little bit.  It helps that he's been practicing blowing his nose. Yeh, I got tired of watching try the finger instead of the tissue!  Isn't it frustrating trying to teach a kid to blow their nose?!  Funny but frustrating. Instead of blowing out, they always suck the boogies back up, so hard, you think they'll make it into the brain or come out of their ears!  After a while, you just want to stick your own finger up there to get it over with!!

Ernie and I are going to the 3rd annual Cops For Kids With Cancer benefit tonight. Of course it's tonight - I got a big zit on my chin!  Why does that always happen? Who's the joker behind the special events zits? I was asked to write a little something, so I have been working on that.  I don't think I'll have the courage to stand up and read it myself.  I'm afraid I'll break down.  We'll see.  Maybe Maddie will grab my hand and make me get up on stage and do it!  If not, someone else will read it.  Our friend, Bob Hayden, will be there.  We've written about him in the past.  He's the wonderful man that gave Maddie a ride on the back of his motorcycle at the CFKWC ride in Sept.07.

Mike and Priscilla are coming up late Sat afternoon for the night.  It's always fun when they visit.  They bring bagpipes, lard for baking, fruit baskets, donuts, life size electric trains, you name it.  They never come empty handed, no matter how many times I plead with Priscilla (especially when it comes to the lard!). Can't wait to see you guys!

Signed the boys up for a peer group gathering on Saturday morning.  I have heard wonderful things about it.  It is run be a nursing agency, with professional counselors. It is for children who have lost a parent or a sibling and there are kids of every age.  I'm hoping it will be good for the boys to connect with others who are going through the same thing they are.  The boys have said that nobody understands, and it's true, so I think this might be a good thing. It would be great for them to just have somebody to talk to.  Somebody that can relate.  We have to try it.

After the group morning, Ernie and Michael are heading to MIT (college) for a fun day of computers.  They both love that, so it will be great for them!

I popped into TJ MAXX yesterday and was drawn to the jewelry counter.  I don't need any jewelry and in fact, wear very little, but I saw a simple little ring in the case.  It says FAITH all around it.  I had been wearing one I got last year that says LOVE all around it.  I think Maddie wanted me to have the FAITH ring, so I bought it and wear it along with my LOVE ring.  LOVE and FAITH...

I'm heading to Morse and Beggs right now.  Maddie's picture came back again, so I have to go and check it out.  Make sure it's PERFECT!  Sounds like her headstone is on the way soon.

Keeping a journal and pen next to my bed now.  That's when so many thoughts pour in, at night, so I thought it would be easier than getting out of bed and running downstairs every 5 minutes to write something else down! Genius huh?!

Before bedtime, William and Thomas argued over whose Guardian Angel pin was whose.  These pins are VERY special to them.  They got them out of Maddie's drawers.  They each fought over the same one.  We worked it out, and today the two of them insisted on wearing their pins to school.  I think they feel that Maddie is close when they have them.  It was very sweet.  I just hope they don't lose them.  That would be very upsetting.

Right before we fell asleep, William asked if he could write something in my journal from him.  I said sure, and he wrote, "I love you Maddie."

Have a nice weekend everyone.

Tuesday -- May 12th

Woke up at 4 this morning and couldn't get back to sleep.  Once I'm awake, my thoughts start up and I can't get back to sleep.  Tried to lay in bed for a bit.  Listened to Thomas, who was sleeping next to me, snoring through his stuffy nose.  Michael tossed and turned and went back into his own bed around 5.  Yes, he had been in bed with me too. William managed to get through the night in his own bed.  Not sure where Ernie ended up. Needless to say, none of us are sleeping very well.

Around 5:15, I got up and went downstairs.  Michael was awake and followed. Ernie got ready for work and left by 6am. I had a few cups of coffee and thought I'd start the day and get things done. Did nothing.  Took a shower and cried quietly, hoping the other two would sleep in.

Got dressed and William got up at 6:15.  I tried to walk him back to bed for another hour.  We laid there and he started to ask questions about Maddie's passing.  Very detailed questions about the actual happening and about her body afterwards. 

I know Maddie's friends read this site, so I have to be very sensitive with my wording...

Anyway, I tried to keep myself composed and answer his questions.  I know he doesn't like when I cry and he won't let himself open up if he knows I'll get upset.  He's always looking into my eyes to evaluate my "sadness level." It was a very sad, difficult conversation. 

I reassured William that the last thing Maddie heard from him was that he loves her.  I called the boys right before Maddie passed and asked them each to tell Maddie they loved her.  They did, one at a time, into the phone, as I held it up to her ear.  She heard, she knew.

Seems like everyone woke up and ingested depression infused pollen this morning.  We were all in the same "place" this morning, from very early on. Really feel like a wave of depression has rolled in.  We're all feeling it, expressing it differently, and trying to get through it, individually and as a whole.  It's incredibly difficult.

Yesterday I bought William and Thomas waterproof containers so that they can write their notes to Maddie and leave them down at her special garden.  William had been doing that from the beginning, but I had them all in a bag and they eventually got ruined.  We'll try the containers.  It's a good way for them to say things, write to Maddie, "talk to Maddie."  I will share one heartfelt line from Thomas. It was sad, but with a little funny twist.  Thomas talked and I wrote his thoughts for him.  He said, "I would be so happy if (when you were alive) you let me play with your friends and not shut the door in my face and yell at me!  I loved you even when you were mad at me."

Every line they each wrote would break your heart.  They so desperately want her back.  I wish I could bring her back for them, for all of us.

Michael doesn't want to write notes.

Got an invitation from the hospital in the mail yesterday, to attend a special tribute event on May 23rd, for those who have passed away at Children's within the last year.  You light a candle, display a picture, and their name is read.  Apparently, nurses and doctors from your teams attend.  I don't know that we'll go.  I think it would be terribly depressing and just the thought of going anywhere near Children's makes me feel physically ill.

After running some errands this morning, I pulled into my driveway and a woman pulled in after me.  I have never met her before and she stopped to introduce herself, to let me know how much Maddie has touched her life.  She was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and will begin her treatments soon. I was so touched that she stopped to talk with me.  I was having a "moment" in the car, so her visit was perfect timing.  It helped me to gain my composure and try to re-focus. Once again, I was reminded of Maddie's purpose.  I felt so much pride in that moment.  I told my new friend that I will drop off some holy water that Maddie and I collected in Lourdes,at her house, and wished her well with her treatments.  She will be in my thoughts and prayers.

My good friend sent me this email and I wanted to share it:

"To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did.  When God takes something from your grasp, He's not punishing you, but merely opening your hands to receive something better. The will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you.'"

Saturday -- May 9th

Mother's Day weekend...

Just find myself walking around in circles all day today, lost in deep thought.

The kids came home from school on Friday and excitedly "hid" their Mother's Day gifts.  Thomas kept his laying around all day, I think in hopes that I would open it. It kept following me from room to room. Strange.  Every time I was in a different room, there was that present again.  Just laying there... 

William said, "I'll give you a hint. My gift starts with an F, then an L, then an O, then a W, then an E, than an R.  But that's all I can say."  Hmmm, I just can't figure it out.  Guess I'll have to wait until tomorrow to get it!

I finished painting the kid's playroom the other day, so I was just putting it back together. I changed out the framed artwork that had been hanging on the walls.  Art work by all the kids. I put it all away, and instead hung framed pictures of them. Pictures of Michael snowboarding, William skiing, and Thomas' first pitch on the newspaper cover.  I hung the big poster sized boards of "Maddie's Thoughts in Chalk" and "Maddie's Prayer," on one wall.  They look beautiful and make her a part of the new room.   Before hanging them, I did ask the boys if that would be ok.  I thought maybe they just needed a space where they don't have to think about things if they don't want to. A place of their own. They wanted Maddie's boards hung up.

William claimed Maddie's latest, new desk and her little pink desk chair.  He also took over her bulletin board.  She had put stickers all around the edges.  Hearts, stars, smiley faces, butterflies, "Home Sweet Home," "There's No Place Like Home," "Awesome," "cool," "sweet," and "Best Friends." 

Thomas took over Maddie's old desk.  She had carved and written all over it. She wrote her name all over it, drew some pictures, some of her friends signed it, and she wrote her passwords, so she wouldn't forget them. Why use paper and a pen when you can carve and write all over your desk?  Thomas loves having her desk.  There are two little heart stickers on it, that Maddie had put there.  He said, "Now I have Maddie girl with me all the time at my desk."

Trying to stay busy all weekend.  Doing the usual house work and trying to get the yard picked up. Can't stand looking at the mud and rocks anymore.  Came up with what I thought was a good plan. Had Lauren and Kristen, from next door, and Michael's friend, Drew, come over to help load Ernie's truck with all of the rocks/boulders that were in the front yard.  We made several runs to a "remote area" and dumped them.  They all got pizza, an ice cream, and cash out of the deal.  It was a good way to get them all outside, working, and getting the yard ready so we can plant grass seeds.

I worked in the yard with the kids, pulling up rocks and twigs.  I thought about the watermelon garden Maddie planted up against the front fence before she went into the hospital.  I asked her not to plant it there.  Told her nothing would grow, the soil was terrible, and I was going to have to move all the rocks.  She was mad and if I recall correctly, she was mad that she was going back into the hospital.  She planted her seeds, put several huge rocks around it, out in the middle of nowhere, and left it at that.

A few weeks later, I hired a guy to do some light yard work and asked him to get rid of all of the rocks she had put there.  I can't remember the timing, but I think it was after she had gone into the hospital, when I had come home.  I was trying to have the yard picked up while Ernie and I were taking shifts at the hospital.  That's what it was.  So, he cleaned up the rocks, and nothing ever grew.

I wish now that I hadn't had him move her "watermelon garden." I wish I left her rocks there.  The last garden she made, out of pure stubbornness, emotion, and determination. I wish a watermelon would grow there.

Ernie continued working on his pond and set up the beautiful, huge, yellow butterfly house, that a group of Norfolk Bunco players had given us a while back.  It looks SO beautiful and fits so perfectly into Maddie's special little garden at the end of the driveway, with the pond.  You can see it from the road. We love it!

It's early evening now.  The boys are getting ready to come in for the night.  They're playing on the zip line.

I was watching Ernie and Michael playing with Hope in the yard.  Just took it all in from the window.

Tough weekend.  Another first.  It's hard when I think about my Maddie girl not being here for Mother's Day. On my desk, I have in a frame, a little red paper flower that Maddie made for me for Mother's Day in 2004.  I have always had it on my desk.  I always thought it was so adorable and red has always been my favorite color. 

The kids have all made me adorable gifts through the years.  The boys are very excited it's Mother's Day tomorrow. We have nothing planned. Ernie is having dirt delivered for the front yard and will work on that. I'll go for a bike ride in the morning and then go down to visit with Maddie.  After that, I'll stop in at the church and say a prayer to the Blessed Mother. 

Maddie will be celebrating Mother's Day with the Blessed Mother, and I'm so jealous.  I want her here with me. I'm sure it will be one magnificent Mother's Day celebration up in Heaven and I'm excited for Maddie to experience that grandeur, but I want her here with me.  I know she will be, in a very different way.  I just wish I could get a Mother's Day kiss and hug from her. Have her wake me up in the morning with the boys, with a big smile…

I just pray that I will truly feel her presence all day. She wouldn't want me to be sad.  She wants me to smile and laugh on Mother's Day. That's what I'll try to do.  My boys will make sure of that.

I woke up this morning to all three boys cuddled up in bed with me, sound asleep.  I crawled out, like a slinky off the edge of the bed, and just stood there, staring at them all.  They're all so beautiful and I always marvel at the fact that I actually gave birth to all of them!  They're all so damn big!  Wow...Isn't motherhood truly the most fascinating gift?

I wish you all a very Happy Mother's Day with all of your babies.  Young, old, happy, or crabby.  They're your babies, always will be, and you're their Mom!  There's no greater gift!  I will always be the mother of four children and I will celebrate and cherish my blessings tomorrow. 

Saturday -- May 2nd

Well, we have no more fish in the house. Michael helped put Maddie's out of its misery after I last wrote about it on the website. It wasn't going to recover, so it was time.

We still had the two Beta fish that belonged to William and Thomas, so I decided to clean out their bowls. I swear you can't kill those things if you try. I have no attachment to them. They would go quite a LONG while in between feedings. I always "forgot" to feed them. Apparently, according to my sister (who has a neglected one as well), they can go months without eating. So, anyway, I cleaned out their bowls, gave them a snack and put them back on the boys' dresser.

A few hours later, I walked into their room (they share a room) and was hit in the face by a wall of Axe body spray. Could barely breathe. What the...?! I looked around the room to see if whoever sprayed it, got in on the walls or furniture. Nope, it was the fish bowl. One clear bowl with a swimming fish, the other bowl cloudy with a floater. Oh no...I don’t know whether to yell or celebrate. Axe. Why didn't I think of that?

So, seriously, who do you think did the spraying to whose fish? Yep, it was William. He decided Thomas' fish should have nice smelling water, so he sprayed half a can of Axe into the bowl. When Thomas caught wind of what had happened he was very upset. I was able to settle him down after telling him that now his fish is with Maddie and her fish. He was very happy about that.

Michael was listening to the whole thing and sat in the other room, creating a program on the laptop. It was an animated fish swimming up to the clouds, "Hi, I'm Thomas' fish." Then the fish smiles and says, "Hey, look! It's Maddie!" It's very cute. Of course, we don't see Maddie's face, but you can just imagine the sight that little fish gets to behold! This really cheered Thomas up.

The next day, William asked if he could kill his fish too, because "that would be fair." "Then it could go to Heaven with the other two fish and be with Maddie." I said no, then turned a blind eye and heard the toilet flush. Yes, I felt guilty, but it turns out that BEFORE he asked if he could kill it, he had already doused it with Axe, so the toilet flushing was just a formality.

Spent the week cleaning out closets and dressers - purging. Did my things and the boys'. Got rid of so many bags of clothing. It was emotional at certain points, when I came across clothing that was passed down from Michael, to Maddie and then to the boys. Certain outfits you remember.

I came across Maddie's little white, hooded, beach dress cover up in the bathing suit basket. That was hard. I found my old bath robe that actually had baby spit up stains on the shoulders. Both shoulders. Isn't that funny...

Purging came with mixed emotion. All of the outfits I had worn in the hospital, the sneakers, the slippers. They were all sad, painful reminders. Tossed it all, except a few things. I kept the last outfit I was wearing with Maddie, laying in the bed with her. I can't get rid of that. I feel close to her when I wear that outfit. Sometimes in a painful way, but close to her just the same. Pink fleece/velour sweatpants and white top...

Pulled out the shirt Maddie proclaimed "the ugliest shirt." Smiled and hung it back up in my closet. I can't get rid of that. I'll probably never wear it again, but it makes me laugh...and question my fashion sense!

Found an old roll of film that had yet to be developed and dropped it off at CVS. I was so anxious to see what was on there. The first picture was of Maddie, holding her Halloween costume that had just arrived in the mail. It was Pikachu. That was Oct.'07. She has the biggest smile and her head is shiny bald. She was so happy.

There are pictures from Michael's birthday at home last year. Maddie is helping him open his gifts. She's also making rabbit ears behind his head. She always got so excited for the birthday star. Who could ever guess that would be Michael's last birthday with his sister. I don't know if I wrote about this already, but Maddie made Michael a birthday card this past birthday when she was in the hospital. She knew she wouldn't be home for his birthday and wanted to make sure he had a gift from her to open.

There are pictures of all the kids holding their newborn cousin, Abby. They all look so young. It's amazing how much they have grown in two years. There is one picture from my high school reunion and then several recent pictures, of eyeballs and teeth belonging to William and Thomas. They're very recent pictures because William's front tooth is missing. They had fun with my camera!

So, what else went on this week? Well, Michael got to go and tour his new school. He is moving up to the junior high in the Fall. He is really excited. It's a beautiful school and the teaching staff all seems to be very nice. It will be quite a scene here every morning when Michael has to get up and out of here at least an hour earlier in the morning. As it is now, I have to scream and yell EVERY morning until he gets out of bed 5 minutes before the bus! Why don't they ever sleep in on the weekends?! Maybe if I set up weekend morning chores, they'd stay in bed?

William completed his scrap book that he was working on in school. He chose all family pictures from last year. He is very proud of his work. He got off the bus on Friday, ran into the house yelling, "Mom, I have my scrapbook! It's all finished! Come look!" It's really beautiful and special.

William has been doing a lot of painting and drawing and it's very interesting to see his work. You could really analyze it. He painted me a picture yesterday after school, of a rainbow with 5 clouds over it and a bright sun. 3 of the clouds are closer together and then the other two are just slightly over and the sun is in the middle. I think the 3 clouds are the boys, the other 2 are Ernie and I, and the bright sun is Maddie. He said he was going to paint rain over the clouds and then the sun would dry it up.

He hung his rainbow painting over my bed. He said this way I can see it every morning and it will "make me happy." He really concentrated on where to put it. He said it was very important that he put it in the perfect place.

He usually paints our house with a single window now, with the curtains pulled back, like Maddie's are. He says it's Maddie's window. Then he puts 3 flowers in the yard. Or, he'll draw a house with 3 windows across and a single flower in the yard. I think his work is all very symbolic.

Had to go over to Morse and Beggs this week. That's the "Monument Store?" "Headstone Shop?" Really, what do you call it? Anyway, I had to proof Maddie's picture. Well, it didn't come out well at all. I was so disappointed. It was very cloudy and grainy. So, I have to start again with the picture and hopefully, the stone will still be done around Memorial Day. I'm taking my time - it has to be perfect. I talked to Maddie in the car after I left there, and told her not to worry. "I'm on it Maddie. I'll make sure it's perfect. You know I will."

Took William and Thomas to grief counseling this week. It was Michael's turn last week. The two of them had a lot to talk about. It was quite a heavy session, filled with some funny, but lots of sad and confusion.

The funny - when asked what they fight about, Thomas replied, "Well, William always says he gets the shotgun, but I want the shotgun, but he says it's his turn to get the shotgun and then we fight." I looked at the expression on the counselor's face and knew I had to interject..."Not a real shotgun. He means "shotgun" as in front seat." Then I thought to myself, "Well, that's great Kristen. Tell the counselor you've let the boys sit in the front seat. Good mother." OK, it's rare but I have done it, when it was necessary. Why is it you feel like EVERYTHING spewing from your mouth in a session is being analyzed?!

Anyway, the two of them were very sad and a lot was revealed during that session about how they are feeling and about what they think happened. They both have a lot of questions, they're confused, lost, and sad. They are both grieving so incredibly differently. I'll go more into it another time, but I will say again that it was a very heavy session.

My Mom flew to California this morning. It's her birthday today, so she'll be spending her birthday out there with her Mom, her sister, and two brothers. She'll also be there for Mother's Day. Speaking of California, my Aunt Betsy, who has been writing faithfully on the website since we started it (Betsy Dore), got the Maddie Butterfly tattoo!! Isn't that awesome!? I sent her the exact stencil and colored it in with colored pencils, so she could have it exactly duplicated out there. She did it and she loves it! I am so thrilled and think it's so amazing that Maddie's love is all the way in California! She's everywhere!

Thank you Betsy, for honoring my girl! Love you!

It's the weekend now. Lots of work to do around this house and then off to TBall practice this afternoon. No social plans this weekend and I'm glad about that. Feel very overwhelmed and just want to hang home. Might take on the downstairs playroom. It's in bad need of a paint job.

Ernie just ran down to the corner store to get some soda with the boys and they noticed the local paper, The Norfolk Boomerang, had a very special picture on the cover. Thomas' picture, throwing out the starting pitch of the baseball season last weekend is on the front cover! He is very proud and keeps saying, "Can you believe I'm famous?!" There is also a nice paragraph about Maddie. Again, thank you Norfolk.

Busy week next week. Several things going on. One being an evening hair appt. for myself. Apparently, it can't get here soon enough. Yesterday Thomas asked me why his hair was turning darker. He used to be very blonde. I told him hair color changes like that sometimes as we get older. I told him my hair used to be lighter when I was little and then it got darker. He said, "Well, then why is it like that now?" "Like what?" "You,, um you know, half dark and half yellow." He was having a tough time describing it. I said, "Why do you think it looks like this?" He said, "Cause you're an old lady?"

Yep, it's time for me to get to the "hair doctor!"

Have a good weekend everyone.


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