Maddie was born on her grandmother’s birthday, and is her grandmother’s namesake. She blossomed from an inquisitive, energetic and talkative child into a beautiful young lady who became a basketball player, champion trap shooter, body builder, and a very talented artist and musician. She loved the outdoors, horses, motorcycles, and her beloved pup, Addie.
Maddie was also called “Turbo.” She gained this nickname from one of her basketball coaches because on the court she was always supercharged with energy and brought an excitement and enthusiasm to the game that was unique only to her. She was most famous for her all-encompassing, rib-crushing hugs that she gave indiscriminately to almost anyone she met. I remember the texts we would pass back and forth throughout the day, especially the last text I got from her, “I made this for you, I love you, Mom!” with a photograph of a beautiful pastel rose painting she had made for me. A few hours later I would walk in to her bedroom to find my beautiful 15 year old daughter, my best friend, had died from suicide.
My world shattered in that very instant. Maddie was my baby girl and we had a very close relationship. Often times, it was only her and me. We did most everything together and hated being separated from one another. From the time she was a toddler, whenever we had to be apart, we would hug each other tight, touch one another on our hearts, and say, “Wherever you go, you take me with you!” after we had said our good-byes. It was something a little special that she and I alone shared.
It was only a few shorts months after Maddie passed away that I was faced with my first Mother’s Day without her here. I was still in shock and couldn’t believe it had happened. I received a call from one of her classmates, who was also a relative, asking me to meet up with him. He presented me with a beautiful painting in the colors of Maddie’s favorite football team, Denver Broncos’ navy and orange. All over the painting were beautiful “Happy Mother’s Day” messages from her friends and classmates. I wasn’t sure I was going to make it through, but in that moment, I thought of Maddie’s painting, and I could almost hear her say, “I made this for you. I love you, Mom!” I remembered our special little thing: “Wherever you go, you take me with you.” I quietly touched my hand to my heart as the tears fell down my cheek. I’m certain those kids have no idea how cherished that Mother’s Day gift is to me. It was one of the first steps toward my healing. It hangs on my wall in my bedroom, beside a big picture of Maddie in her Denver Broncos hat, so I can reflect on it every day.
This is only my third Mother’s Day since Maddie has passed. Mother’s Day is a much more revered and cherished day for me now than it had ever been in the past. Spending time doing the things Maddie and I enjoyed, like horseback riding or camping, gives me the sense that I am sharing a moment with her. I reflect much more deeply now about my own mother, and how special and cherished she is to me. I try very hard to make sure my mother knows how much I love her. I usually end the day reflecting on the lessons Maddie taught me throughout her lifetime, and the lessons I am still continuing to learn from her to this very day.
I look forward to the beautiful messages I get from many of those same kids who gave me that painting on that very first Mother’s Day. The messages usually come in the form of “Happy Mother’s Day, Mama Carmie!” It certainly doesn’t take away the sting of Maddie not being here with me physically, but it does help salve the wound that will always be in my heart in the wake of her loss.
It’s important for me to rejoice in the fact that I am Maddie’s mom, in life and in death, from now until forever. For that, I am truly blessed and thankful, and I carry her with me in my heart, always. “Remember, wherever you go, you take me with you!”
Many people have complicated personal responses to Mothers’ Day, and those who have been affected by suicide are no exception. Read other people’s experiences around this upcoming holiday here. We also have a resource for coping with difficult occasions.
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