Wednesday -- September 30th 

Riding my bike these days is dangerous.  At the rate and randomness that acorns are falling from the trees, it's like being pelted by apples, thrown by those mean Wizard of Oz apple trees!   Either all the trees, or the sneaky little squirrels in them, are having themselves a good ol' laugh at my expense!

Rode my bike around town the other day, doing errands.  Had to drop something off at school, something in a friend's mailbox, and something off at Town Hall.  Also stopped to visit with Maddie.  It was a beautiful day for a ride.  I'll really be bummed when the cold weather comes and I have to retire my bike for the season.

Was cleaning out the bathroom vanity the other day and came across so many of Maddie's things.  Still have her toothbrush, in its pink case in the top drawer.  Still can't get rid of it.  Then I found her hair detangling spray in with my hair spray.  I remember how she used to spray so much of it on her hair, that her hair would look greasy! Just a little is all you need.  She wouldn't listen to me.  I put the bottle in her little basket on her dresser. Why? Why not throw it away?  Is it because I like to fool myself into thinking she'll be looking for it when she comes home?  It's hers.  I can't get rid of it yet...

Came downstairs this morning and overheard William say to Thomas, "When I get to Heaven I'm telling Maddie!" I walked into the t.v. room and asked him what he was talking about.  He said that Thomas was playing as Maddie's Wii character, on the Wii Ski and Snowboard game.  He said again, with a smile, that he's going to tell her all about it when he sees her in Heaven! I thought that was kind of cute, and he insists he won't forget!

You should see her Wii character, or Mii, as it's called.  You design them to look like yourself.  Maddie designed hers as a cute, little, smiling, freckled, bald girl.  It really did resemble her, in a fun way.  She's still on the system. All of Maddie's scores are still on the system.

We have a busy weekend coming up. On Saturday, my Mom will be here from CT., to help my sister with her yard sale, there's the annual Open House at the Fire Station, and then a really special day on Sunday.

On Sunday, I will be at the Cops For Kids Motorcycle Fund Raising Rally. It is called The Flight of The Angels. If you look back at that posting (Sept.24th '07), this is the one where Maddie met Bob Hayden, the Retired Deputy Superintendent of the Boston Police.  We have spoken a lot about Bob over the past year in our postings.  He and Maddie struck up a unique friendship that day, and Maddie rode the whole ride on the back of his motorcycle.  Bob gave the helmet Maddie wore that day to me this summer, and I will be riding on the back of his motorcycle, riding that helmet and taking the same ride he took Maddie on that day.  It will be very emotional, but I am looking forward to it.  Bob even found a friend who agreed to take Michael on his motorcycle, to ride next to us!  Michael is very excited about that.  It will be a great day...

We would like to let everyone know that we will be having a memorial mass for Maddie, on the night of the one year anniversary of her passing.  It will be on Friday night, Oct.16th, at St. Jude's in Norfolk.  We are not sure of the time just yet, but will let everyone know when we figure that out.  It will either be at 6 or 7. We invite all who would like to be there to come, and we'd love it if everyone wore some pink or yellow.

Enjoy the rest of the week.

Sunday -- September 27th 

This week we had Open House at school for all the boys.  First night was Michael's over at the new middle school. It's such a beautiful building.  Ernie and I got to meet all of Michael's teachers in each of their classrooms.  It brought back so many memories of middle school.  That was such a fun time.  Michael is really enjoying the new school and even rode his bike to school the other morning. I'm hoping he'll get involved in some extra-curricular activities and meet some nice new kids.

Open House at the elementary school was the next night.  The boys got to come with us.  They were so excited to show off their classrooms and all of the fun things they get to do. We know Thomas' teacher because William had her last year.  Mrs.O'Shea said Thomas is doing well.  She said he comes in every morning with a big smile, salutes her, and says, "Reporting for duty!" So cute.  We met William's teacher for the first time.  Mrs. Aucella is very nice.  She said William is doing well but he's very chatty and she has to keep him focused.  So, she put his desk in the front row, where she can keep an eye on him!  We'll have to work on that.  The boys walked us, well they ran ahead and we followed, to the Art Room, the Music Room, and the Computer Room.  Michael came with us and of course, was instantly bored.  I think the only thing that interested him was the caterpillar box in William's classroom, filled with caterpillars and lots of caterpillar poop.

I had to go into Boston for a day, for my dentist appt.  I still go back into town.  You know, once you find a good dentist, it's hard to switch.  So, I took the train and just reminisced about so many things. I commuted every day on that train when I worked in town with Ernie, until Michael was born. I thought about all of my friends at work, how much fun we used to have.  I miss all of those people. Once I got into town, I ran down the hill to the dentist.  Outside the building was a group of people trying to raise awareness for cancer.  They were all wearing "bald caps."  I stopped to read their signs and told the man that what they were doing was great.  I told him I lost my daughter to cancer in Oct. Turns out, his wife was there and recognized me from working in town, and worked with Ernie, so they knew all about Maddie. I took a "bald cap" home.  I wanted to put it on at home, to feel what it must have been like for Maddie.  It was quite humbling, looking at myself in the mirror with the bald cap on.

Anyway, after the dentist, I met Ernie for lunch.  It was nice to walk around the same places we used to hang out together.  Life was so simple then.  I thought about the last time I brought Maddie into town for a Mom/Maddie day.  She came with me for my dentist appt. and then the two of us walked around the Commons, she climbed a tree in the park, we stopped into a little shop for a souvenir.  I wish I could remember what she picked.  I'm pretty sure it was a Webkinz.  We stopped at a street side vendor table.  I bought a silver ring.  She didn't want one. I couldn't decide between two rings and Maddie helped me pick the one I bought.  I remember the whole train ride home, annoying her by asking every several minutes if she really liked my ring.  I remember her saying, "Oh my Gosh Mom!"   After we bought the ring, we bought fresh bagels, and walked to the grassy area in front of the huge cathedral and laid down, munching on our bagels, on our backs, looking up at the clouds, looking for shapes. Next to the clouds, were the huge skyscrapers.   A few feet away, was a homeless man, sleeping.  Maddie and I talked about him for a while and felt really sad for him.  We wanted to leave some bagels next to him, but I was nervous he might be crazy and react in a negative way, you just never know, so we didn't.  That was a great day.

We've all been really missing Maddie.  This time of year is really hard.  There are so many signs we have been given from our Maddie, trying to help us get through these hard days, letting us know she is constantly with us.  So many examples, and despite the fact that you will all think I'm losing my marbles, I'm going to share...

The other night Thomas was crying in bed and I was laying with him.  Then William told us about the "dream" he had the night before. He said he woke up in the middle of the night and "out of the corner of his eye," he saw Maddie standing over by the closet door.  I thought maybe he was saying this to cheer Thomas up, so I asked him questions:

Were you having a dream about Maddie?  "No Mom, I was awake.  I woke up and was laying in bed."

What was she wearing?  "A pink dress.  A pink dress but a yellow top." 

What did her face look like?  "She had a huge smile and she had hair actually!" 

Was it long hair?  "Not too long."

Did she say anything? "No. She just smiled and walked over to me, to my bed, and then disappeared."

I sat mesmerized by his account of his "dream."  Thomas did too.  Then William repeated the whole scene over again. Both boys fell asleep and I left the room and went into my bed.  I couldn't stop thinking about what William said. 

The next morning, while waiting for the bus, I asked William, "Hey, remember what you told me about Maddie last night?  Were you just saying that to cheer Thomas up or did that really happen?"  He said, "Mom, that really happened."  He told me the whole story again.  I studied his face as he was talking because I can always tell if he's not telling the truth or if he's embellishing.  I have to tell you, I believe what he says is absolutely true. He said it made him feel good when he saw her because he knows Maddie is with him.  I truly believe he saw a vision of her.  I truly do.  I'm jealous.  I hope I'll be given that gift one day.

So, the next night, Michael was having a rough night.  He didn't talk much that night, but the next morning went out really early with Ernie, to Dunkin Donuts.  The two of them had a lengthy, emotional chat and then they came home and filled me in.  As we were talking, I knew it was the perfect time to give Michael what I had found the day before, while cleaning out his keepsake school paper box under his bed.  When I found it, I wondered how it got into Michael's box.  I set it aside, waiting for the right time to give it to him.  He was very sad about Maddie and without going into specifics, had a lot of questions.  I ran upstairs, grabbed the paper and brought it down to him.  It was a note Maddie had written him, and it must have been pretty recently because nobody called him Mike, until last summer.  The note said, " I love (she drew a heart instead of writing love ) you.  Best big bro Mike. Love Maddie.”  It really brought a smile to Michael's face.  It was reassuring to him and comforting.  He asked that I frame it, so I did, and hung it in his room.  It's beautiful.  I really feel that Maddie led me to find that note when I did because she knew Michael was having a hard time and she needed to remind him of her love for him.

We all needed to get out of the house yesterday.  We took the kids over to Jane and Paul's Farm and ran through the corn maze.  Originally, the three boys ran in, but Thomas ran right back out.  He was scared and wanted me to go in with him.  So, the two of us held hands and ran all through the maze, getting lost several times.  It was fun.  We finally made our way out and beat Michael and William.  We high fived each other and Thomas declared how HE had shown us the way!  Yep, never could've done it without him!  Eventually, Michael and William made their way out, all sweaty and out of breath.

Next we hopped on the big tractor pulled wagon and headed into the pumpkin field to pick pumpkins.  As soon as we hopped off, I stood looking into the beautiful blue sky.  I said to myself, "Maddie please send me a hawk, girl.  Let me know you're here with us."  There were no hawks anywhere when I said those words.  I looked down for a second, so I wouldn't trip on the pumpkin vines, and heard Thomas yell, "Mom!  A hawk!" I swear to you, it was the most amazing moment!  This hawk was HUGE and literally circled the five of us.  I could not believe my eyes. It just circled and circled.  The tractor driver kept looking at me, probably wondering why the hell I was so intrigued with a hawk!  I am telling you, just as she has before, Maddie sent that hawk for us!  I know it. She is with us.  William said, "Mom, that hawk makes me feel so good because I know Maddie is with us. It makes me feel comforted" I said, "I know, me too."

So, William picked a 27 pound pumpkin, Michael picked an 11 pounder, Thomas picked a cute little one, and I picked a little green one, for Maddie.  The boys asked me why I picked a green one, and I told them it makes me smile and think of Maddie, because when she was little I took her and Michael to a pumpkin patch and she insisted on buying the green pumpkin she had picked.  Despite the several attempts I made at hiding it, she kept finding it.  I think I wrote about that before, but anyway, I always think about that when I go pumpkin picking.  So, we left the farm, $75 later, taking home more than pumpkins.  We took home new memories.

After the farm, I went on a bike ride with Paul, next door.  We rode about 25 miles.  It was a great day for a ride.  Glad we got one in since it is going to rain all day today.  After my ride, Ernie took off for a party he had to attend an hour away.  I stayed home with boys and we made caramel apples.  As they were all drying, I looked at the top of William's apple and the caramel had covered every area of the apple, except, for a heart shaped area at the top of his apple.  I have pictures of all of these hearts! It was there! It was there until William ate it!


Monday -- September 21st

It was the 11th month of Maddie's passing on the 16th.  That day, like all the rest, was very hard.  I went down to visit with Maddie, to leave my pink and yellow balloons, and when I got there, there was already a gift there.  A HUGE sunflower was lying on the ground. It's an outdoor decorative sunflower, the size of a person.  I'm so happy I left the note jar for friends, because inside, I found the note, "FINALLY, finally, Maddie, a flower as big as your smile.  I miss you!  Love Heather." Now I knew it was from Heather Bellwin and it made perfect sense!  The sunflower is so big and bright and happy. It was such a special gift.  It's still there.  I'll leave it there until the weather gets cold and snowy, and then I'll bring it home to Maddie's garden at the house, until next Spring, when I'll bring it back down again, to remind everyone of Maddie's warm, HUGE, bright, happy, smile.  Thank you Heather.

Whenever I visit with Maddie, it is so very hard to look up, just across the street, one house behind, is Molly's house.  Molly was one of Maddie's best friends.  It's a house where I dropped Maddie all the time to play, to sleep over, to laugh, and to grow up with her pal.  Now I sit and look over and it's just so strange, that Molly's windows overlook Maddie's final resting place.  I always try to avert my eyes when I'm sitting there.  It's just too surreal when I look up and over at the house and yard and realize I'm not running across town to pick Maddie up from Molly's house.  I'm running across town to visit her in silence now.  Even as I'm typing this, I can't quite fathom it all.  Every single time I drive by the house, I remember the last good bye the two of them shared.  Maddie was leaving for the hospital in a day or two and she had been over at Molly's.  Maddie stuck her head out the front window, yelled Molly's name until she was out of sight, reaching out to her, while Molly ran alongside the car as long as she could.  I never dreamed that would be their last good bye.  I will never forget that image.

Molly's birthday was a few weeks ago, so I had picked up a little gift up for her.  I knew Maddie would not want me to forget and really feel like she led me to the little butterfly wallet I found.  I also bought two tickets to the Butterfly Place for Molly and her Mom to enjoy.  I know they will feel Maddie there.  I asked Maddie to help me to be strong when I gave Molly the gifts.  Molly loved them and I held myself together in front of her.  It was so incredibly hard for me to be there, without Maddie, giving her a birthday gift. I know Maddie was proud of me for doing it for her. 

We have a new baby girl next door.  Brynn Walker was born on the 14th.  She is beautiful.  The boys were so excited to meet her.  We all ran over the minute we were invited and were overjoyed to meet her. I'm sure she's familiar with all of our voices, having heard them all summer long while in the womb.  I got to dress her in her first outfit at home.  You forget how tiny they are.  I really wish Maddie was here to hold her.  I could just picture her running over every second she could, to get her hands on that baby and take care of Stephanie.  I am so sad that Brynn will never know my Maddie.

Ernie and I went to our good friend, Chip's, retirement party on Thursday night.  He retired from the State Police, after 27 years.  So, as we were sitting at our table, I was thinking about Maddie.  I noticed the State Police Chaplain was sitting across from us.  I met him when he came into the hospital to visit the daughter of another State Trooper.  So, we went over to say hello to him.  He remembered me and asked how Maddie was doing.  Wow, that was hard.  He hadn't heard and he felt terrible.  We sat back down, I got really sad and took a sip of my wine (I know, big surprise right?).  I noticed a drip ran down the stem of my glass, so I took my napkin to wipe it, and what do you think was given to me?  A gift from my girl!  I opened the cloth napkin to lay it out, after wiping my drip, and the red wine had left a perfect heart on my napkin!  It was unbelievable!  I showed the people at my table and everyone saw it and believed it for what it was. Maddie wanted me to know she was there with me.  No doubt about it!  I wish I had taken a picture of it.

My niece Abby turned 3 on the 11th, and Jeanne has really been missing Maddie and thinking about her a lot.  I stopped in with Thomas to say a quick hello and Jeanne showed me the most amazing coffee stain heart on her cutting board.  It is the most perfect heart I have seen.  Maddie wanted Jeanne to know she is with her and Abby and all of us.  Some of you might think we're nuts and that's ok, but it IS real.  I hope we can start to post some of these heart pictures on the site, to show how real it is.

I had to go for an follow up ultrasound on my pancreas the other day. They had found a spot on my pancreas, while looking at something else, a few months back and wanted to follow up.  The spot was in the shape of a heart!  Can you believe it?!  Just kidding!  Anyway, I still don't have the results and I'm not overly concerned.  Maddie will watch over me. I also have to go for another ultrasound of my ovaries this week.  Boy, nothing is very private in my writing, huh?  Anyway, every time I go back to the hospital, I have to walk by their ICU ward and I get sick.  Hearing the beeping sounds, smelling the smells, everything, everything, makes me sick.  I remember all the tests I went through with Maddie, hours on hours of testing, and think about her every time I go.  How incredibly brave and strong and resilient she was. She is my hero.

So, Ernie found something new and different to do with the kids this weekend.  We went to the New Hampshire Speedway to watch the NASCAR qualifying races.  It was awesome!  I wasn't going to go originally, but realized that we have been doing things so separately lately, and thought it would be good for us all to be there.  Oh my Gosh!  What a cool experience!  I can't even believe these drivers don't lose control of the cars more often than they do.  They literally go by you in the blink of an eye!  We sat up top in the bleachers to take it all in.  William, who has always said he wants to be a race car driver, thought the sound was too loud and he was getting a headache!  Thomas scored a high score on the slot car racing a qualified for a race-off later in the day (we didn't last that long).  Michael was cold and sat under the blanket with me, enjoying it as long as we could.  So, we lasted about 3 hours before heading back home for the hour and a half drive.  We didn't last long there, but got to experience something fun and new.

Sunday was such a beautiful day.  Ernie went out fishing before we all woke up and got home around 11.  The boys just hung out, relaxing, watching t.v., doing homework, and then we took them over to the Big Apple Farm for caramel apples after lunch.  It was a very mellow day.  I ended the day by walking next door, glass of wine in hand, to visit baby Brynn. She really is so precious. As hard as it is to go over and hold her, I feel drawn to doing so. Maybe it's because I know Maddie would be there all day and she would want me to enjoy the baby.   Maybe it's because I always loved new babies and just need a new baby "fix."  I don't know.  I just wish I could visit her with my girl.  Even harder than visiting without Maddie, is the walk back home.   That's when I see her bedroom window, her pink curtains pulled back, how Maddie left them, the lights off, and I'm reminded once again that I will never hold my own baby girl in my arms...

Sunday -- September 13th

So much writing to catch up on. Last weekend was full...

We had some friends over Friday night...

I went for a bike ride Sat. morning with Paul and Amy.  Awesome, almost 30 mile ride...

Hosted Jeanne and her family Saturday night.  Ernie , Dean , William, Thomas and Charlie spent the night out back in the camper.  Jeanne spent the night with Abby in the guest room.  It was fun having Jeanne's family sleep over.  It was such an adventure for the kids.

Sunday, afternoon, the 6th,  was our first block party.  It was great!  It was held on the new road, one door down.  The street was blocked off with flags.  We had catered food and a jumpy, and then we all played lots of games. The kids went on an amazing treasure hunt, played volleyball, and then they all did the three legged race. William tied himself to a little girl, of course, and they won!   They were so cute.  They practiced, counting, "one two, one two, one two," as they ran.

Next it was the adult's turn.  We all did the potato sack race and the three legged race.  For the three legged race, I talked a good game.  Yep, was convinced Ernie and I would take the prize.  Big long legged Ernie, I would just go with his stride.  Well...we came in last!  Turns out, being strapped to those huge, tall legs is no bonus.  It was more like being tied up to Frankenstein!  You try keeping in stride with Frankenstein!  I should've just held on and gone for the ride!

We all did the egg toss too.  It was great, old fashioned fun.  I was partnered with Kristen, our neighbor.  She had never done it before.  She did great, but we didn't win.  In fact, I'm not sure who won that one.  We were well into the cocktails by that point!

I'm sure we'll do this every year going forward.  We have a wonderful neighborhood of friends.   It was amazing to see all of the kids, all so grown up, standing in huge group. We all moved into the neighborhood when they were all babies.   Someone remarked, "Look at them...the gang."  I just stared at the "gang" and of course, so desperately wished Maddie was standing there with them, but in my heart, I knew she was.  She was right there, laughing and loving them all.  She'll always be a part of the gang.

The week was busy, still settling into the new school routine. Got them all on the bus Tuesday, and crashed again.  Did a lot of crying and then got myself up. Tried to stay busy all through the week, going through clothes, cleaning rid of 8 bags of boy clothes!  Brought them all down to the Big Brother/ Big Sister dumpster.  It felt good to purge, but I still have a long way to go.  I figure I'll give myself a new assignment to tackle each day/week, and keep myself focused.

Ernie came home one day last week with a picture he had printed off.  It was a picture of an exploding star, taken by the Hubble telescope.  It was in the news and all over the internet.  It looks like an incredibly beautiful butterfly. It was named the "Butterfly Nebula."  Have you seen it?  It's incredible!  Of course, we like to believe it has something to do with our girl.  The next night I got an email from my brother, Art, with the same picture attached, and his heading read, "Maddie in the Heavens."  Guess he had the same thought we did.  

The other morning, very early, around 3 or 4am, William walked into my room, as he sometimes does. As exhausted as I was, I smiled and opened the covers for him to crawl in.  He whispered, "Mom, you always smile when you see me."  I whispered back, "I know. That's because I love you and I'm always so happy to see you."  Then he whispered, "I love your smile...I love you." He snuggled in close and we fell asleep. It was just another reminder for me to cherish what I have.  There's nothing more satisfying than knowing that your child knows how much they are loved.

This weekend was just as busy as the last.  We attended a Cops For Kids Gala on Friday night, at the Wilbur Theater in Boston.  It was a beautiful show, filled with Irish music, a comedian, the Boston PD Pipes and Drums, the NYPD Pipes and Drums...truly a beautiful show.  We were so lucky to be a part of that audience.

Saturday was an AMAZING night.  I went to see the Rascal Flatts with Jeanne, Lorraine, Helena, Beth, Terri, Heather, and Lauren and Kristen.  9 of us.  Our seats were great and it was an awesome show.  If you remember,  I've written about it, Maddie LOVED the Rascal Flatts and my brother Mike, sang their song, "My Wish," at her funeral.  So, going there was very emotional for me, because I had always promised Maddie I would take her to their concert if they ever came to Boston. 

So, the show was going great and then about 2/3 of the way through it, the band played a video montage of sick children, who all appeared to have some sort of cancer.  The video talked about the Make A Wish Foundation and the Jimmy Fund, and all how the band gives much of their proceeds to these organizations and visits hospitals frequently.  What great guys. So, I was wrapped up in the video and then it finished.  Then we heard the lead singer say, as he walked to the front of the stage, "This if for you Maddie Girl."  He then began the song..."My Wish"

I was so confused and shocked.  I looked at Jeanne and said, "Did he say Maddie Girl?" She said, "Yes, Maddie Girl!"  I was trying to figure it all out.  My Maddie Girl?  How would he know about my Maddie Girl?  He must have been talking about a different Maddie in the video.  But, he didn't say "Maddie," he said, "Maddie Girl," the name we all called her. Then I thought to myself, if it is my Maddie Girl he was talking about, who did that? ... and then I looked down at Helena in our row and she was crying.  She looked back at me and I knew it was her.  She had gotten one of Maddie's painted greeting cards, the one of my favorite driveway that she painted for me, through several levels of security, to the head security for the band.  She had written a note about Maddie on it.  They brought it to the band, who actually took a moment to read it, and give Maddie a shout out! Can you believe it?!  Maddie got a shout out from her favorite band, in front of thousands! 

We would all have been in tears with this song regardless, but now that we knew the band was singing it for our Maddie Girl, it was that much more emotionally moving.  We all broke down, held hands, cried, and sang along.  It was the most incredible, emotional, amazing moment.  Maddie WAS there. I had been thinking of her all night long, about my promise to bring her, about how much she would've loved the show, about how much I missed her.  To get that gift from the band was such an incredible blessing.  I don't know if they even know how great of a gift that was.  I really felt like Maddie was there with us, smiling so huge. 

I couldn't thank Helena enough, but Helena says she feels that Maddie got it all to come together and happen.  Hopefully Helena will sign the guest book and give her version, but however it came to be, I am so incredibly thankful and feel so blessed.  I truly felt like Maddie came to the show with me, as she and I had planned, and she wanted to let me know it.  Helena was her instrument, her messenger...Thank you Helena. Thank you Maddie Girl, for letting me know you WERE at the concert with me.

This morning, I took my ticket stub and tacked it to Maddie's tack board, on the back of her bedroom door, where she has all of her ticket souvenirs.  I wanted her to have it, to add to her collection.  Even though I couldn't see her there, she was there, she did go, and I wanted her to have our souvenir.   

Thursday -- September 3rd

Michael and William each had a great first day of school! William started on Tuesday, and Michael started on Wednesday. Thomas only had a two hour intro day on Tues. Michael loves his new school, LOVES the lunch food, and is overall very excited about his new adventures in the middle school. William loves his new teacher, and he too, is very excited about new beginnings.

So, after William hopped off the bus, on his very first day, he ran under a tree to say hello to a neighbor and ran right into a stick. It got him right in the eye! Yep, scratched his cornea. I knew exactly what he did the second he did it, but remained very calm. I simply said, "OK, glad school was great, now get in the car and let's go see Dr.Fox."

So, I loaded 'em all up in the car, called the doctor, was told to bring him right in. While I was on the phone, I asked that since we were coming in for the eye, could we get them all their flu shots and get Michael's back to school shots? I missed the boat on those! So, we got everything done in one shot, no pun intended. William came home with an eye patch, that had to stay on through the next day. Poor kid, he really was uncomfortable, but he was very lucky it wasn't worse. After his patch was put on, he said, "Now all I need is my hook and wooden leg. Arrgh."

As of today, Thursday, all of my birds have officially left the nest. Did I cry when the bus pulled up? No, I waited until after it rolled away, with Thomas smiling from ear to ear and William keeping an eye just a few seats away! Michael takes a different bus now, so it's just these two on the bus. I heard William say, as they were climbing aboard, "Come on Thomas, I'll show you where to sit." He'll take care of him. Thomas was so incredibly excited and I was so happy for him. He is so ready for full day. It's time to let him fly.

After the bus pulled away, I hopped on my bike and rode down to the school, to see the boys get off the bus and walk into school. Thomas was still smiling, his head held high. I ran over and high fived him and wished him luck. William was right behind him.

On the back of the bus, were Maddie's girlfriends, next to be dropped off at their school. They all looked so pretty, confident, and happy. They all waved to me and I blew them a kiss. Seeing them, hurt all over again. I jumped on my bike and broke down. I was heading down to see Maddie. Maddie should be on the damn bus!

I truly had a very hard morning today. The days have all been very tough, but I guess now that I'm officially alone at home, everything just caved in on me. I haven't been alone for almost 13 years. Now I'm alone with my thoughts, my feelings, my heartache, myself...and the damn dog!

As I was sitting with Maddie, Pam, or "Cookie" as Maddie called her, stopped by to sit with me. I'm so thankful she did. We talked about a lot of things and I'm glad I wasn't alone.

I left a jar there with Maddie, with a pen and sheets of paper. We have two jars there now, one for William and one for Thomas, in which they leave their private notes for Maddie. People always come by and leave special things. A little something, flowers, or a note on the ground. I never know who the gifts are from, and that's ok, but I thought this might be a nice way for people to leave a message if they would like to. Let us know who those things are from, what they mean, write any thoughts or memories they would like to share with us. Who knows, maybe we'll be the trend setters. Seems like several headstones now have the same black garden stakes we put in. I always tell Maddie that we've really livened up the place. Maybe we can get the place really jazzed up! Leave visitor logs at every stone, install a bar, make it a real social club! OK, just kidding. We'll start with our note jar.

I rode my bike home, laid on my bed, cried my eyes out, then got up and out of the house. Headed to the store to look for some clothes for the boys. On my way to check out, I stopped at the jewelry counter, just for kicks. As I was standing at the counter, a mother and daughter came over and stood right next to me and asked to see a pair of earrings. The girl was about Maddie's age, with the same color hair. I thought, "Oh, great, just what I need. I'm outta here." Then I saw what earrings they chose...

They were the same exact pink sparkling, glass butterfly earrings that Maddie wore to Heaven. My sister, Jeanne, bought them for her for Christmas the year before. She loved them, and the matching necklace they came with. Jeanne kept the necklace.

I couldn't believe it. Why now? Why wasn't that girl in school? Why those same exact earrings? Was Maddie trying to let me know she was there with me, or was that just the craziest coincidence? Well, I've already said - I don't believe in coincidences.



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