Thursday -- September 17th

I started this entry in September, but it's now October... It was a rough start to the new school year for me. The minute the bus picked the boys up and the front door closed, I had some very bad days. It's a very tough time of year. I can't help but re-live our stay in the hospital, all that entailed, and of course, Maddie's passing. I went back on the website the other day and read what was going on this time of year in '08. I can never explain how it is that you grieve the loss of your own child, but it is not something that ever gets better, gets easier, or goes away. It is something we deal with every day. For me, every second of every day and night. I just try to start each new day with a deep breath and positive thoughts. Some days I do better than others.

It has been hard bumping into her friends, who are all excited to be 8th graders. They are all maturing, turning into very pretty young ladies, all happy and healthy. I have said before, I love seeing them and hugging them, and hearing from them, but it's also heartbreaking.

Good news is that the boys really like their new teachers and seem to have settled nicely into their new routines. Michael has grunted that he, too, likes school so far.

Rode The Hole In The Wall Bike Challenge again this year, on Sept. 10th, with Paul Altmeyer and Dave Dimond. We are "Maddie's Hope Riders." It was a great day. Perfect weather. Very emotional, as it was last year. A woman approached me and said she remembered my picture of Maddie on my back and my story from last year. She was so kind. We chatted for a while. A few familiar faces. We lined up, and off we went. We weren't two miles into the ride when Dave's tire blew up! He's so lucky he was able to control his bike at the speed he was going. The three of us pulled over and tried to repair the tire but it was blown. Dave had to get a ride back to camp, have his tire replaced at a shop, get dropped back into the ride, and ended up riding the last ten miles with us. It was such a bummer but all in all another great experience.

Ernie was out of town this weekend, so I kept the boys busy.

The Confirmation class in our town, headed by Ellie Lutes, hosted the Kids PMC Ride this past weekend. I could not bring myself to attend. I knew I would be too emotional if I brought the boys. Just was not in a good place. The last time we were there, Maddie was running around, laughing, scooping ice cream, putting ice down people's backs, pulling raffle winners. I did donate a beaded Maddie bracelet and was told that the winner was so excited. She grabbed her heart when her name was called. She was a young girl. I was also told kids drew hearts with Maddie's name on the street and butterflies, in chalk. I am so touched she was remembered that day.

I took William and Thomas to The Big Apple Farm in Wrentham. We met my sister and her kids there. The kids had fun running around the fields and eating caramel apples. It was a beautiful day.

I also took the two boys to the Cracker Barrel Fair. They had a blast! We went with my Mom, my neighbor, Patti, and her daughter, Sophia. We were there for a few hours. The kids rode every ride! It was so painful to watch Thomas. He is afraid of heights and rides, but wanted to hang with the other two, and did them all except for one. His face told the story. The ride would start, his body was stiff, shoulders up, face white. His eyes would glaze over and roll into his head as the ride continued! He would go into a shock zone! Oh my gosh, so painful to watch him. Of course, when the ride was over, he'd come bounding over, "That was awesome!!"

Saw a lot of Maddie's classmates and friends running around. A few came over and hugged me or said hello. That was very hard. The girls were all holding hands, laughing, wearing their Ugg boots, cell phones in hands. I thought about Maddie a lot that day and could almost hear her giggle. She'd be wearing her Fuggs (Fake Uggs), holding her pink cell phone, wearing a cap, wearing a huge smile, holding someone's hand...

A little girl in our town got braces the other day. She is absolutely adorable. Her name is Olivia Kulesza. She never knew Maddie, but Maddie has truly touched her. She got pink and yellow braces in memory of Maddie! Isn't that the sweetest thing?! Her Mom sent me a picture. So incredibly special.

William crawled into Maddie's bed last week again and had a little break down. He said he still wants her room but doesn't want us to change the room. He talked about how very much he misses her. Talked about some memories. We both cried together and went to sleep.

Thomas is working through his own thoughts and sadness in different ways. We are working with him to help him continue to talk about things and help him see some things differently. He will process things differently through each new year, as he grows older. They all will.

Hoping to have the bench in Maddie's Butterfly Garden at school, painted with Maddie Butterflies very soon. The Art Teacher, and friend, Bill Reilly, will be painting the butterflies! He's the perfect one to do it! All of the kids at the school really take pride in Maddie's garden. It's so moving to pull up and always find someone standing in front of it, admiring it. In fact, I went to Thomas' Open House and it was evening. As I walked up to the school, I could hear little voices saying. "Look Mom and Dad, that's the butterfly garden for Maddie!" Families were standing in front of the garden, in the dusk, admiring it. I was so touched by that. So beautiful.

Went away with three childhood friends last weekend. Everyone arrived in my driveway at the exact same time - perfect timing! One came from Vermont, one from NJ, and one from CT. We got in the car and headed downtown. We stopped first at the Butterfly Garden at school. They loved it. Then we went to visit Maddie's site. They had not seen it yet and wanted to go. That meant so very much to me. One friend brought flowers and a butterfly balloon. It was hard to stand there with childhood friends. Who ever thought we would be standing at one of our child's resting place? My child. I thought about my entire life in those few short minutes standing there with them. I wanted to cry and scream and tell them everything about what happened, but I didn't want to bring anyone down, and I didn't want myself to head off into the weekend in a very heavy place, so we kept it light. I had prayed to Maddie before they all arrived, to help keep me strong through the weekend.

We went into Boston on Sat and spent the night at the Boston Long Wharf Marriott. It was so great! We walked around Quincy Market, did a little shopping, sat by the water, people watched, and truly enjoyed each other's company. We made a pact to go back same time every year and see where we each are. It's so important to make these things happen. I wish we had done it sooner. We had tried for years, but life was always too hectic. We finally made it work! So wonderful to have lifelong friends in your life. Truly a blessing.

Heard the Cops For Kids Ride was awesome this year!!! Biggest turn out ever! It was the same weekend as my girls get away. The only reason I didn't attend was because Bob Hayden was in Ireland. I can't ride on anyone else's bike but his! We were both sad to miss it this year, but we'll be back next year! We'll keep spreading the word. So happy it's growing!

So, it's October again. Extra hard time of year. Trying to keep busy. Painted our new front door, painting inside side of the door, trim, doorways. Keep on finding more places to touch up. Keeps me busy. Seems like every October I find new projects to start. Make sure I overwhelm myself with a To Do list. Ernie changed out the front doorbell. That was pretty sad. It looks great, but it is funny how little things are so sentimental. Like the front stoop, the front door being replaced. Things you don't think about. Yeh, the doorbell was sentimental. Think I'll spray paint the shutters black next weekend, then spray paint the patio furniture...yeh, I get a little crazy in October!

William and Thomas had their physicals last week. That was a very funny visit. The two of them in their gowns, nervous giggles. "You go first!" " No, you go first!" The two of them sitting side by side on the table. They are pretty much the same size so everyone thinks they're twins. During the car ride there, I told the boys what to expect during their physical. Of course, I told them about the "blue glove" test! Oh boy, were they horrified and scared! Of course, that doesn't actually happen until they're older, but for kicks, I thought it would be funny to see their reaction. When Dr. Fox pulled out the blue glove, there were 4 eyeballs in that room that could not have gotten any wider! It was hysterical! I can't even share the conversation at that moment, but it was pretty funny! They passed their exams, but we do need to eat healthier and get more exercise!

Went to the Franklin Harvest Fair with Ernie, William and Thomas, yesterday. Michael was still in bed...11am. Anyway, we knew that Julia Meredith, a 2nd grade classmate of Maddie's, was there doing a fundraiser for Children's Hospital, for a school project, in memory of Maddie. We wanted to go and support her. I brought a framed picture of Maddie for her table display and she had written a beautiful letter that brought tears to my eyes. She had a pumpkin painting table. So, the boys and I painted pumpkins. William made his a big shiny apple, Thomas painted a butterfly on his, and told me he made it for Maddie, and I painted a cow on mine. We all had fun doing this and felt great knowing where the proceeds were going! Thank you Julia!

Why did I turn mine into a cow? I painted mine for my dear friend, Stephanie, who is fighting her cancer as best she can. She loves cows. She recently learned the chemo is no longer working and she will now do two weeks of radiation, to hopefully give her some comfort and of course, more time. For the family's privacy, I do not know how much to write, but I would like to ask again, for your prayers.

I went to visit Stephanie last week in the hospital. I went with a good friend, Amy. That was the first time I went back in there since Maddie's passing. It was very hard and Stephanie tried to keep me away. She was in Brigham, where Maddie did her radiation, right next to Children's. I didn't even glance up at Children's. I couldn't. Just ran from the parking lot, into the hospital. Just tried to stay in "the zone" and focus on Steph. I knew if I broke down, she would never let me visit her there again! She is home now. I will drive her to her radiation treatments. She can do them locally, out of Milford, so she doesn't have to go into Boston. Yeah!

I pray every day to Maddie, God and the Blessed Mother, to help keep me strong for Stephanie and her family. Stephanie has always been so strong and supportive for me. God put us into each other's lives when Maddie was diagnosed, and we became instant close friends from that day forward. I love her dearly, and we made several pacts with each other throughout this crazy journey. Pacts we will see through with each other. So, thank you in advance for your prayers. I will keep you all posted.

October 16th falls on a Sunday this year. The 12 o’clock mass at St. Jude’s will be the offertory mass for Maddie, if anyone would like to attend. Thank you.


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