Thursday -- November 18th

Been a while since writing. Just been keeping extra busy. Organizing my office, bills, papers, closets. Then onto the basement, boys room... Don't want to stop and sit with my thoughts.

Cleaned out the kids playroom in the basement. It was a MESS! Now they can actually see the floor again. I got rid of some extra old pieces and bought a cute new little loveseat and chair. It really is a nice place to hang out now. Got a new desk for William and moved Maddie's desk over to Thomas. William was torn about whether or not to give up Maddie's desk, but he loves his new desk. Thomas was thrilled to claim Maddie's desk. It's a very modern desk, she had picked out with Ernie just before she was admitted. Thomas had been using her old wooden one. I had to move that one off to the side. I can't part with it. She boldly carved her name all over it and wrote little sayings all across the top. She even managed to "decorate" inside the drawers with marker and pen. It sits in the corner now. She was so proud of that desk.

Went through paper work in the boys trunks, reorganized it all, and switched their school photos out with the new ones. They came out pretty good. They all look the same, just a little older. The shirt Thomas has on in his picture, was also worn by both Michael and William in one of each of their school photos. Sure got a lot of use out of that one! Always hate changing the school photos because Maddie's is still the same. I can't even write about it without crying...

When cleaning out the boys trunks, I came across the letters I had written to each of them when they each turned 1. Wrote about my love for them, the joys, their character, my dreams and wishes for them. I always thought I would give it to them to read when they turned 13 or when they left for college, or on their wedding day. Wasn't sure. In any case, they have not yet been opened. I think I will let Michael read his over the Thanksgiving break. I miss him. He's growing up so fast and has been through so much and life has become so heavy, so different. I want us to share the letter, laugh and hug. I love him so much.

I think about Maddie's letter often. I can't bring myself to read it. I can barely bring myself to open her closet. I wish I had read her letter to her. I wish she knew what it said. I wish I had known, in the hospital, that she wasn't going to come home. I wish I had more time, to say more things, bring in her photo albums for her, her baby videos, so we could go through it all together. Reminisce. I wish I could've done that for her, but I didn't know...I thought about all the things we would do together when she would be home recovering for months, and those were some of the things we would've done together. I just wish I had more time.

I think I will take her letter out, maybe on Thanksgiving, and go sit with her. I will read it to her. I know she'll hear me and maybe I can be at peace with that. I just wish I could see her smile and hear her giggle as I read it.

Came across some old pictures and videos in the office. Maddie was so incredibly beautiful. Incredibly beautiful. All Moms think that, but she truly was. Her features, the twinkle in her eyes, her dimples, her perfect incredibly beautiful. My boys were stunning too! "Gerber babies" if I do say so myself!

It is a very heavy hearted time. I guess with the holidays coming and just life in general, I feel like I have taken one step forward and two steps back. Grief is so hard to manage. It's just not manageable. It's the beast that takes over. Horrible waves of grief have been hitting me. Anywhere, anytime, anyplace. Just completely takes over. If I were to review the stages of grief, I couldn't even put my finger on which stage I'm in. I really can't. I'm all over the place.

Been trying to be a good friend to two other Mom's, friends of ours from the hospital, who are each losing their daughter. The two girls are both home on hospice care, and they are preparing to get their Angel wings. My heart breaks for them and for their families. I know there is nothing I can do or say, so I listen, we cry. They know I get it and I am here for them. Actually had the conversation with one of the Moms yesterday, about knowing when it is time to tell your baby it's ok to let go and follow the Angels. Can you imagine? No parent should ever have to do that. I had to do that, and it was the most difficult, most excruciating moment of my life. This Mom and I talked about it because as excruciating as it is, we both know it's our last gift to our child, to let them go, to tell them it's ok, because they are holding on for us.

It's so damn hard to re-walk these steps with my friends. Feel like I'm re-walking them myself, but I know how important it is for you to have someone there who "gets it." I know Maddie is with each of their girls. I know she is comforting them, preparing them. I know it.

Also reached out to a Mom in town, whose daughter has been diagnosed with a rare brain tumor. I can't explain how painful it is to put myself in this position, but I pray to God, the Blessed Mother, and Maddie, to give me strength to help where I can. I know Maddie would want me to go and help. After I leave or hang up the phone, I fall apart, completely fall apart, re-live my own journey, fall apart, but I feel like I'm doing what I should do. I'm sure all of this is contributing to the very hard time I am having right now.

Just got back from running errands. Bought some pretty Christmas tree ornaments for Maddie's tree at the cemetery and then went to school for an open house event at Thomas' class. He jumped up and down when he saw me coming. He's so cute. We giggled and had fun. What a day. Cried hysterically buying ornaments for cemetery decorations for my daughter, then ran home, changed, put my "smiley face" on and ran to school for fun time with my son. Sometimes feels like I have multiple personality disorder! You have to.

Recently brought a gift to the school Art Teacher, Bill Reilly, who is so incredibly great with the kids and personally knows our family. I brought in the gigantic sunflower that our friend Heather, had left with Maddie last summer, with a note that read, "Finally Maddie, a flower as big as you smile!!" I loved that flower but it eventually killed all the grass, so I brought it home. I thought what better place for it to be than in the school. It can be used for front hallway displays or projects, and Maddie's smile will be shining down on all who see it!

Friday -- November 5th

SO glad Halloween is over. Between the Ghosting treats left at our door and all the candy the kids gathered on Halloween night, they have eaten so much junk, it's disgusting!

I volunteered to help out at the school Halloween parade. It's such a cute event when all the students and teachers get dressed in costume, march around the school and out into the parking lot. They really get into it. I helped some get into their costumes, marched with them and then stayed to help out with the party in the classroom. It was fun. Thomas was Mustard and he looked very cute. He was very proud of his costume and the kids all got a kick out of it. It's certainly unique. Adorable costumes in Thomas' class. Of course, two that stood out in the parade were the black cat and the little Angel girl. The Angel was beautiful. Brown shoulder length hair, a white gown, flowing wings and a halo. I watched her and wondered if that is what Maddie looks like. I really wonder...

Halloween night, William and Thomas dressed as Ketchup and Mustard again and looked so cute. Michael cut eyes and a mouth into a Fed Ex box and placed it on his head. A typical teenage costume. Michael actually went out with friends so Ernie just took the other two out. They were only gone maybe an hour and were back home. They like to come home and answer the door.

We had intended to give our candy away and mail it to the military soldiers, off serving our country. We had talked about doing that for weeks. When Thomas was going to bed, after checking out his loot, he said, "This whole bucket should go to the military 'cause they're the ones that got the United States away from the Indians." What?!?! Good night, we'll talk in the morning.

Have to share the AMAZING day I had last Thursday. My Maddie was with me in the strongest of ways on that day.

The day started with my weekly visit to my "special friend, " OK, my therapist. Yes, I go and talk with someone. Actually it's a lot more crying than talking, but just trying to sort things out and figure out how to "move forward." Anyway, as we were wrapping up, these words came out of her mouth..."My wish for you..." She caught my attention right away because I instantly thought of the Rascal Flatts "My Wish," Maddie's song. She actually said those exact words twice, within a few minutes of each other. So, I hung onto every word that came after those words, truly feeling like Maddie wanted to get my attention and pull me in, as if she was saying, "Listen up Mom! You need to hear what she is going to say." I did and I absorbed it all.

I must have smiled while I was listening because my therapist asked me why I kept smiling. I was so lost in thought at that moment. I told her what I was thinking. She is a firm believer in that nothing happens by coincidence. Everything is connected. I thought she'd think I should extend my hour after I told her my thoughts, but she was completely on board. It really was pretty cool. She said she was going to google the song and listen to it. I told her that was a great idea and that she'd love it.

So, I left, got in the car and wanted to hear the song. I knew it would make me cry, but I just felt like I needed to hear it. I have several Rascal Flatts cd's in my player but for some reason, couldn't find that song. I listened to a few others.

I ran into the house when I got home because I had to go right back out. I grabbed the paper work with my words for the memorial stone for Maddie's tree and headed out to the monument place. I was heavy hearted driving there. Remembering picking out Maddie's stone, just replaying a lot of things in my head. This was a different monument place, but a monument place just the same. I walked in and sat at the table.

The owner, a very sweet lady, came in and lowered the volume on the radio. I was kind of bummed because I liked the distraction of the music. She introduced herself and sat down at the table with me. As I pulled out my paperwork..."My Wish" came on the radio!!!! My Wish!!! Can you believe it!? I started to cry. Happy and sad tears. She asked what was wrong and I told her the story from earlier and told her I knew that song was playing for ME! My daughter put that song on for ME! It was just too amazing. That is not a song that is often on the radio. It's one of their older songs and you just don't hear it that often. This was no coincidence! I asked the woman if this happens to others in the store. She said she has seen many things and that with being in that business, she knows there are no coincidences in life and completely agreed that song was for me. Her eyes started to well up too. So, I know Maddie was happy I was there, happy with my design, and just wanted to let me know she was with me. She knew I had been thinking of the song, that I had talked about it that morning, that I wanted to hear it in the car. She waited for the right time to let me know I was not alone.

So, we wrapped up our meeting and the woman handed me her card. You won't believe her last, it's not Butterfly! Her last name was Duffy!! Duffy!! Of all names! I had just listened to a voice mail from Colleen Duffy (Meghan's Mom) on the way over! I believe Meghan visited with Maddie and wanted me to tell her Mom she says hi! Her and Maddie were there together! I know they are together and have been told so by Maureen, but that's a whole other story.

I left, sat in my car and dialed Colleen. As I pulled out of the driveway, there was a hawk overhead. I told Colleen all about my morning. We were both just so "happy" to receive the msgs that were given that day and both shared in our comfort knowing, without a doubt, that our girls are together. It was all just so amazing.

Just when you thought it couldn't get any better...

The next day, I was driving along and talking to Maddie. I had made a promise to her. Something personal between she and I, but as I was driving that afternoon, I asked her if I could renege on my promise. I told her if that was ok with her, then she needed to send me a sign. A big sign. I also told her that if I didn't get a sign, that was ok too. I would stick to my promise. So, I waited all afternoon and didn't get my sign. I chatted with my neighbor about it and she pointed to what she would consider a sign. Her daughter's shirt had a heart on it and it said, "My heart belongs to Mommy." I said, "Nope. That's too easy. That's not my sign. Can't get out of my promise that easily. That would be cheating. When I get my sign, it'll come with a bang. It’ll be huge and I'll know it's my sign."

So, a few hours went by and I looked onto the deck and saw William there crying. I went outside to comfort him. He was having a bad day and really missing Maddie. We hugged and talked for a few minutes on the deck, but it was cold so we turned to go in. As we turned to go into the house, William pointed and yelled, "Mom! A Hawk!!" I turned and there it was - as big as the damn dog! A HUGE hawk, wings spread, flying ground level, from out of nowhere, across our backyard! We both watched in total awe as it flew the width of the yard, in front of our eyes, and perched itself in the tree on the property line. It sat there looking at us for a few minutes. I said to William, "See that! That is from Maddie! She loves you and wants you to know she is here and that everything will be ok. She doesn't want you to cry. She doesn’t want you to be sad. " William was so comforted by that and said, "I know Maddie loves me." I also knew in my heart that sign was my sign too. The "bang" doesn't get any bigger than that!! William wanted to run in and grab a camera but the hawk left. So incredible. It was freezing out, windy, overcast. There were no hawks. Hawks don’t come around in that weather and they certainly don’t fly at ground level. There was no prey. There was no reason for a hawk to be there, other than for the reason we believe to be true. I smiled, I laughed, I cried, and I thanked my beautiful girl, for blessing me with her signs, letting me know she is by my side, listening, watching, taking care of us all.


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