It’s been more than six years since we lost our beloved daughter, Maddie to depression at the tender age of fourteen. It’s hard to describe what has transpired since that dreaded day. It has left this indelible imprint upon the lives of our family and so many of our friends. Yet it is a legacy that has touched the lives of so many. Some that knew Maddie, many that didn’t and some that want to leave a positive footprint on the lives for the youth of today and tomorrow.
I often reflect upon what I wish I had done differently, the regret of some things I’d said and others that I hadn’t said. Do I parent differently with Sawyer and Zac? I don’t think so, but I’m keenly aware of our conversations and the possible consequences that can arise from them. I’m a better listener. I’m more protective. I’m infinitely more aware of my reactions to our discussions.
There are some mornings that I wake up, and I’ve dreamed that Maddie and I have had a conversation. I’m not sure what prompts these dreams or even if they’re a dream at all. Sometimes it seems so real. How our subconscious plays on our emotional loss can be cruel and yet can give us hope. My dream never seems to last long enough. I never want them to end….but they do.
What would a conversation between Maddie and I look like today in the wake of everything’s that happened? Would there be regret? Would anything have changed the ultimate outcome? Was I a good Dad?
The relationship between Madeline and I was anything but predictable, and it certainly wasn’t perfect. We had our moments and don’t believe they were dissimilar from many fathers and their teenage daughters. Our relationship was predicated on love and raucous humour. It helped to cut the tension in our conversations sometimes. It could also be the cause of some of the strain. Admittedly, I didn’t understand what she was going through as a teenage girl and all of the challenges associated with that burden of an adolescent growing up today. I wasn’t unsympathetic, I just didn’t always get it.
Madeline was our first child. She was also the only girl in my family that came from a long history of boys. When I first laid my eyes on this perfect little angel, I realized love under a completely different light. She had my heart the second she entered into my world. This little 5lb 14oz child came into the world with a flurry of excitement and left our world leaving so much promise in its wake. Admittedly, when I found out we were expecting Zac, I didn’t think I had the capacity to love another child as much as I loved Madeline. As a parent, you quickly discover your infinite ability to love.
“So, Dad, how are the boys doing?”
“They’re ok. They still talk about you as if you’re still with us. Zac moved into your room because he wanted to be closer to you. Sawyer has a lot of questions. There’s a huge void in all of our lives. They are so different in personality, but you not being here has brought them closer together. Holidays are the toughest, and when your presence is missed the most for all of us.”
“She has her good days and her bad days. She’s in a lot of pain but tries to keep your memory in such a positive light. She started The Maddie Project in your honour. She’s solid, but I know she struggles every day as I do. A big part of her was lost the day you passed away. I think knowing how many people have been positively affected by The Maddie Project gives her some solace. Your brothers and so many of your friends have embraced the cause. You left such a huge hole in your absence, but so much good has come from it too. I know you would’ve been so proud.”
“And how are you doing, Daddy?”
“I miss you more than you could ever imagine. I wish I had more answers. Could we have somehow prevented you from leaving us? Every day is a new journey, and I’m not sure what awaits me. There are songs that I hear that always remind me of you. I can’t hear a song by Jason Mraz or Ed Sheeran without crying. There’s a huge hole in my heart. I see some of your friends, they’re growing up, and they’re wonderful young adults. It makes me think of all the things that you’ll miss.”
“Tell me Mads, is your pain gone now?”
“Dad, I miss you, Mom and the boys every day but I couldn’t put you through the pain of dealing with my situation anymore. Leaving you guys behind was the hardest part of my decision. I hope you’ll understand one day. I’m in a better place now”.
“Daddy, will you stay with me?”
“I’ll stay with you as long as I can. I wish I could stay with you forever, but I have your brothers to think of too. My work isn’t done here yet. I’ll see you soon enough. We miss you with all our hearts. Keep well, my Baby Girl. I love you.”
Please support our youth that are struggling. Help Maddie’s legacy live on.
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Originally Posted April 11, 2017