Friday -- October 21st

On Friday, the 14th, I got a call from the school asking me to pick William up. He was not feeling well. When I walked down the hallway, I saw him sitting in the hallway, on the bench, looking out the window, in deep thought. I said, "Hi, what's up? You don't feel good? What are you looking at?" He said, "Mom! I was talking to Maddie in my head and I asked her if she is here with me, if she can make that bird fly off the branch outside when I count down to zero. I counted backwards. 5-4-3-2-1-0 and then the bird flew away! Mom, Maddie was here with me!" We all miss Maddie and think of her constantly...

As Maddie's 3rd year Angelversary was approaching, I had a very hard time. I have been keeping myself extra busy with projects. Cleaned the basement, the garage, the attic, had a yard sale, painted the new door, inside and out, then the trim work around the living room. My brush just kept on going. It's too hard when I stop moving. Even taught myself how to change an exterior door knob and door bell. I had wanted to clean Maddie's room for a while, but dreaded doing it. Kept putting it off. Picking up every little trinket to dust, stripping her bed. It's always too emotional and I had been crying all week, but really wanted her room to smell alive and pretty again.

So, I did it on the 14th. Cried as I touched each object, embraced every memory each one holds. Read her writings again. Her little notes, her little wishes in her wish box, her handwritten prayers for healing, prayers for God to listen to her. So heartbreaking. The windows are cracked open, I sprayed her body spray back into the air. Perfect. Perfect, I told myself, for when she comes home. I know, I know, she's not coming home, but that's what I wanted to tell myself so I could walk out of there and keep going for the day.

Compounding my heaviness, was the fact that my dear friend, Stephanie, had been very sick and went back into the hospital since the last entry. She spent several days in the ICU. I spent some time with her in there. That was very, very hard for me. Never thought I'd be there again, in the damn ICU. Made me re-live so many things I went through with Maddie, and my heart broke seeing my friend there. I prayed to Maddie to please keep me strong when I went in. To please help me keep my emotions and thoughts in focus. I was there for Steph, not Maddie. I had to learn to separate the two. I needed to focus on that and to stay strong. Drowned out the sights and sounds. Put my "funny hat" on and pushed through it. Of course, I wasted a lot of good material on her since she was so medicated and doesn't remember any of it! She is home now and I spend as much time as I can with her. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. She tries to protect me, but I want to help her. I know I need to be with her. I would feel worse if I couldn't be. Sticking to those pacts we made! Please keep her in your prayers. She is strong, she is a fighter, and I love her.

Took William and Thomas to the Fire Station Open House on the 15th. Sure makes you realize how big your kids are getting. Lots of new faces, young kids. Not really our crowd anymore. Kind of sad. Still love to go and say hello to everyone, but things are changing. People growing up, moving on. There was a girl there making balloon characters. The boys each got a sword and hat, and I got a pink and yellow butterfly. I know, so corny, but I wanted one to put down at Maddie's site. Of course, it popped before that happened. We stayed for a bit then came home.

On a side note, Friendly's in Medfield closed. What does that mean? Well, that's the Friendly's Maddie and I went to every trip on the way into treatment or the hospital and/or the way home. We always stood at that take out window. Just felt really sad when I heard that news. I was supposed to go there with Pam, her nurse friend from our town, and get a cotton candy cone in honor of Maddie (She loved that and mint chocolate chip). We hadn't done that yet, three years later. We'll have to go somewhere else. Life is moving right along, changing, no stopping.

October 16th arrived. So strange how, on the night of the 15th, I didn't want the next day to come. I said to my friend, "I don't want tomorrow to come. I don't want it to be that day. That means she has been gone for 3 years and I don't want the day to come." It's not like every day doesn't feel like that. Each new day is another day she has been gone, but the big day drives it home. I cannot believe it has been three years since I held my girl. October is such an incredibly hard time of year. We had an offertory mass for Maddie on Sunday. I got to choose the music. Went with the classic songs: Ave Marie, Eagle's Wings, Be Not Afraid, and Yaweih.

It was a beautiful mass. Our family, our friends, Maddie's friends, all surrounded us with their presence and love. Msgr. said a few extra, loving words about Maddie, making it feel more like a private service, much more personal. Felt myself physically shaking throughout the service. I think I have held it together better in past years, when you might think it would work the other way. Not at all. Every year, each new marker, is just so surreal.

During church, I thought about Lourdes. I thought about the letter I wrote to the Blessed Mother a year after Maddie passed, to send along with friends going back to Lourdes, to submit as my letter of intention. I still feel like I am in the same place and maybe always will be. I need help every single day.I say these words often when I pray. I'll share a piece of it again with you:

Dear Blessed Mother,

I had the amazing blessing of coming to Lourdes last year with my daughter, Maddie. I wish I could be there again this year. We had such an incredible time there together. I'm sure you had a few laughs watching us! My Maddie is with you now. I know you know me, and I know you know Maddie. I know you know my pain and I need to pray and ask you for help.

I am lost without my girl. A piece of me died with her. I know she is safe in your arms, and that I will see her again one day when it is my turn to come home. Until then, I pray that you keep her close and keep her happy. Doesn't she have the most amazing smile?! I know God has a plan for me just as He had for Maddie. I am trying to be strong and let His plan slowly reveal itself to me as I continue on my journey here on Earth. I may never know His plan until I am with my Maddie again.

I pray, Blessed Mother, that you help me stand again. You help me smile again, you help heal my heart and help me to be a good mother to my three sons, a good wife to my husband. I am struggling and cannot do this alone.

I pray that you help my husband and our sons heal and find peace with the loss of Maddie. Please be with them all and guide them through their own personal struggle and heartache.

Please be with all of the families that we have come to know and love, who have also lost their child to cancer. They, like us, need your love and guidance.

Please help me keep my faith strong. Please help me to lean on you and our Heavenly Father for help. Please allow me to feel my Maddie's presence every day. Please share her with me. I miss her and I need her. For me, please kiss her, hug her, and tell her how much I love her every day.

Thank you Blessed Mother. I ask these things in Jesus' name. Amen.

After mass, family and a few friends came back to the house for lunch. It was a beautiful day. I had been asking Maddie all weekend to send me a sign on her day. As a handful of us were sitting on the back porch, all talking, I interrupted and pointed to the sky. I wanted everyone to see it! There it was, a perfect heart cloud, quietly passing by. We all saw it. It was awesome! She was saying hello!

Thank you family and friends, for your love and support throughout the weekend and always.

After everyone goes home, back to work, back to school, and the door closes, that time is especially hard. To sit alone with everything. All the emotions, all the awareness. You keep going for yourself, for people around you. Go through the motions, then WHAM! It's exhausting. I went down to visit Maddie Monday morning. Friends had left flowers, beautiful flowers. As I pulled up, her song came on the radio - Can you Feel The Love Tonight, from the Lion King. Her favorite. She played it constantly on her electric piano. I know she was letting me know she was there.

Michael turns 15 this Monday, the 24th. Wow, so hard to believe! Happy Birthday my wonderful son! Love you!



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