There are certain activities that we all seem to look forward to, and I suppose its different for everyone. Some may look forward with great anticipation to a certain holiday, others to a family vacation, and yet someone else may be on pins and needles waiting for the upcoming college football season to begin. For us I suppose its a little bit of all those things, but one thing I don't think we anticipated when Madeline passed away would be what I call the "firsts". The "firsts" can be very difficult when its obvious someone is missing, whether its the first holiday, the first vacation, or especially the first birthday. We just returned home from another "first", it was our first family camping trip without Madeline. Like most of our previous 'firsts' there was some anxiety, some tenderness, and even some anger that she would not be with us, but we forged ahead.
Just a little excited about camping
After getting the tent trailer out of storage and making a few minor repairs we packed up and headed to St. Charles Canyon in Idaho. Its a family favorite from years past when children were smaller and watching squirrels and chipmunks can entertain for hours. I was amazed at how small rodents are still entertaining to grown up children and their mom. I was also amazed at the sweetness of past memories spent with our children in this beautiful alpine setting as well as the sandy shores of Bear Lake's north beach. It was a wonderful tribute to time spent together as a family as past memories continued to tug on our sentimental heartstrings and new memories blossomed with our ever changing family. I was also surprised to see that children, even those classified as grown up still argue and complain about minor inconveniences and differences of opinion as well as get super excited about campfires, marshmallow's and melting chocolate.
Our friend Chunky
We couldn't help but see and feel Madey's influence throughout our trip, whether it was the young moose we saw while driving through Logan Canyon which immediately reminded us of Madey's souvenir hat and t-shirt from our last family trip to Yellowstone that read "cool as moose". Or it may have been the hummingbird that dive bombed our camp on occasion, or the echoes of an unmistakable laugh that sounded off in our trailer during Hillary's demon barbie impression. Whatever it may have been Madey was with us in this "first" just like she has been in all the others.
Enjoying the beach
With a stack of "firsts" behind us, we now find ourselves looking at some "seconds" as well. This coming Thursday July 19th, will be Madeline's 17th birthday, our second celebrated without her. In the spirit of being a difference maker we invite everyone to look for an opportunity to try and make difference in someone else's life this Thursday in memory of Madeline. The best part is you get to decide what you will do to make a difference for someone else on that day, large or small everything we do makes a difference. If you feel like it we would love to have you post a comment on our blog and tell us a little about what you did or a memory you have of Madey making a difference for you.
Madey alwasy loved being in the trailer
As a family we continue to be blessed by the powerful example that so many of you are to us. We are also blessed by the influence that Madeline left in our home and the understanding that we will have her with us again someday. May the Lord continue to bless each of us in our efforts to make a difference for others.
There is so much that I would like to say to you, I don't know exactly where to begin so I guess I will just jump in. I miss you. I have been thinking about all of the things that are different now that you are in Heavenly Fathers care. The first thing that comes to mind is how quiet our house is, with Lindy living in Logan, and Hillary in Provo its just quiet. There is no girl drama in our house, except for your mom and that's minimal. There are also no basketball shorts, stinky sweat socks, sports bras or sliding shorts on the floor in your room. I miss having you tell Landon all the things he does that bug you. There are about a million and one more things that I could list, I miss hearing you laugh, watching you play ball, car rides home from the game, your lame practical jokes that really never worked, watching you play with Max, listening to you play your guitar and singing at the top of your lungs, what a beautiful voice you have, and how you always cheered for the underdog.
There is so much I would like to know about where you are and what you do, sights, sounds, people you've met, who you spend your time with, how my dad is doing, what your grandparents are up to, the list goes on and on. Since I will have to wait to know all of those things, I suppose I will tell you what is going on here.
Lindy and Cameron are still living in Logan. Lindy has just a year of school left at Utah State and she should graduate in elementary education. I think she will be an awesome grade school teacher, there. will plenty of little boys with teacher crushes on your sister.
Hillary is in Provo at BYU, its a good fit for her. She has finished her first semester and her grades were good, shocking...not, and she has a job on campus that she seems to like a lot.
Landon likes fairfield jr. he is starting to want to go to the mall and shop for stuff like jeans and shirts. He doesn't ask to go to Toy R Us or Chuckie Cheese anymore, he thinks he is a grown up.
Mom is working at Interform now, its a little weird not having her work from home. It has turned her world upside down and inside out. She just finished reading the Book of Mormon so she could get her honor bee, in honor of you.
I have been teaching at Layton again, I see your friends all the time. It still seems strange to watch them and you not be with them. I won't see them much this next semester, they want me to teach at Clearfield starting next week, I think it will be a good move.
I get random emails and people still stop me from time to time to tell me how much you have impacted their lives. When the scriptures teach that "the worth of souls is great in the sight of God" I believe that is something you understood more than I knew. I am amazed at the number of people your life has impacted and the impact your memory continues to have on others. Whether it was your smile, your kind and reassuring friendship, your laugh or your willingness to serve, it seems everything you did made a difference for someone. I guess I write that not only because its true but because my life is forever impacted by the privilege it is to be your father. I think I'm a little bit kinder, a little more patient, and a lot more willing to help others because of you.
Now Madey, I just want you and anyone else who cares to know that the separation we are experiencing now is temporary. I know the day will come when our family will all be reunited because of the grace, and mercy of the atonement of Jesus Christ. And wow! what a day that will be!
I love you...no matter what. No matter if you are here or there the love of our family is eternal.
Hillary wrote this story with the intention of it being printed in the paper, hasn't made it there yet, but could very soon.
What comes to mind when you think of your childhood? Perhaps you think of summer days riding bikes around the neighborhood, or playing superheroes in the backyard. Maybe you were the kid who had the coolest action figures and race cars, or maybe you were the one with the best dress ups and biggest doll collection. Now imagine a childhood where all that is taken away from you by illness. Imagine a childhood filled with doctor visits instead of bike races, medicine instead of dress ups. Instead of jumping out of bed with the sun to go play with friends you’re lucky if you feel good enough to just sit up in bed. Such a childhood is really no childhood at all, but unfortunately for many children it is their reality. Life threatening illnesses, such as cancer, heart and organ malfunctions, and sickle cell diseases, are not confined to adults. According to the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation, there are 13,500 children in the United States diagnosed with cancer every year. Of these 13,500 children, 1 in every 5 will die from the disease. There are, however, many organizations who are working to help these children find hope and regain their childhood, one such organization is the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Make-A-Wish is a nonprofit organization that, through the work of its 25,000 volunteers, helps brighten the lives of 213,443 children every 40 minutes. They grant wishes ranging from princess tea parties and meeting celebrities to trips to Disneyland. Their mission is to “grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.” It is a mission that has touched the lives of countless individuals, and one that they hope to continue. On behalf of Make-A-Wish, Davis High School’s DECA club is holding a unique fundraising opportunity on November 11, 2011 at 11:11 a.m. in order to raise money to continue granting these life changing wishes. All you have to do is text the words GoMad to 50555 and they will charge an extra $5 to your cell phone bill that will go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Some may wonder why the words GoMad were chosen. The reason is because of a 15 year old cancer patient, named Madey. Madey was an active, athletic girl who participated in both softball and basketball. She loved to sing in her school show choir and played the guitar in her free time at home. She was a hard worker, a person who made a difference through her kindness to others. And she is my sister. In January 2010 her days on the court were cut short with the diagnosis of a type of bone cancer in her hip called Ewings Sarcoma. Madey’s life was no longer the life of a normal ninth grader, but the life of a cancer patient. Her days became filled with doctor visits and chemo treatments. Her hair fell out and she lost her appetite. However, through it all Madey’s attitude remained positive as she continued to fight for her life. A short time after her diagnosis Madey was granted a wish by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. She wished for a trip to Florida to visit the various theme parks with her family. Her dream was to swim with dolphins. In order for her to go, a fundraiser was held by Davis High School’s DECA club. On November 11, 2010 the fundraiser, titled Memories For Madey, brought together three rival high schools who were able to raise over $3,500 within a few minutes. Because of a digital fundraiser that was opened before November 11, over $10,000 was raised on Madey’s behalf for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. However, Madey’s health took a turn for the worse. She passed away in January 2011, leaving behind her a legacy of friendship and courage that would continue to touch the lives of those who knew her. In memory of Madey, my sister who made a difference, Davis High School’s DECA has titled this year’s fundraiser, GoMad. The money donated will go to help give hope and a bit of fun to children fighting life threatening illnesses around the world through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. A childhood governed by illness is a bleak one, but with your help that childhood can become more happy and more hopeful. This November 11 go make a difference, GoMad! For more information about GoMad and how else you can help, check out their website at www.gomad2011.com.
Tomorrow, July 19th is Madeline's 16th birthday. As we wade through a whole new set of emotions and grief we can't help but ask the question, "What do you want for your birthday?" For most 16 year old girls it would probably be something along the lines of clothes, mp3 player, cell phone, drivers license, boyfriend or a car. In Madey's case we thought there might be something more substantial that we could offer. Since we often take time to remember her and all that she taught us during her short life on earth, we couldn't help but think of all the times people have shared with us experiences when Madeline did something that made a difference in their lives. We have had some tell us that it was her smile, her kind hello, her welcoming personality, her faithful friendship, her desire for the underdog to come out on top, or her beautiful singing voice, or her contagious laugh that made the difference for them. Whatever it may have been, for Madeline's birthday we are asking for everyone to give Madey the present of being a difference maker. I guess what that means to us, is to look for an opportunity to make a difference for someone on Tuesday, July 19th. It doesn't have to be a grand or glorious act, most of what Madey did was simple, yet genuine. It could be something seemingly insignificant like opening a door for someone, sharing a kind word, sending a thank you note, sitting with the lonely, or any number of things. Whatever you decide to do whether it seems small to you or not, could be the difference maker for someone else. It might be the very thing that lifts their spirits or puts a smile on an otherwise unhappy face. And if you want to whisper a little 'happy birthday' to Madey when your done I think she would like it. We feel like we have been the recipients of a lot of kindness, love, faith and prayers. And as we continue to find our way we know the Lord is with us.
Thanks Again for your continued faith, prayers, love, and kindness.
Another school year has come and gone, its hard to believe so much has happened in the last few months. I'm really not sure where to begin. I suppose I can start with Landon and see where it goes from there.
Landon has graduated from 6th grade, yeah! We will not have any children in elemantry school, ever again, which is really weird... he is very excited about moving on to Jr. High and the masses of pre-pubescent teens with acne, body odor, and a perpetual awkwardness that will accompany him and most of his peers for the next few years. He was involved in ballroom dance this year at school and also had a part in the school play "Honk" a musical version of the Ugly Duckling. It was sure fun to watch him and his friends as the play came together. Landon is also looking forward to scout camp and will be attending Space Camp in Alabama this month. He is now taller than his mom and seems to grow in his sleep.
Hillary just graduated from Layton High, can I get a Woot! Woot! She is very excited to move on to college, she will be attending BYU - Provo this fall (Go Cougars!). Hillary was very involved in school this year with Key Club and the Science Olympiad Team. The Layton High team took state this year and she got to travel to Wisconsin to compete in Nationals. We are very proud of all her hard work and we know the things she has learned will definately bless her at the next level.
Lindy and Cameron are in Logan attending Utah State, Lindy has been accepted into the Elementary Education program there, she and Cameron are both working hard and learning together about the struggles of married college students.
Madey continues to make a difference in our home and we have been blessed by many that continue to remember her. Last month Fairfield Jr. High retired Madey's basketball jersey. It was a tender moment, our hearts were full as coach Ron took a moment to honor her and present us with her jersey. We are also trying to continue the difference maker legacy. This year we started a scholarship. "The Difference Maker Scholarship in Honor of Madeline Slaughter". The scholarship was offered at three high schools here in the area, Northridge, Davis, and Layton. It was a rewarding and emotional experience to be involved in the process of selecting recipients and awarding the scholarships. But we felt it was what Madey wanted us to do and that she was pleased. Our hope is that we can continue to fund the scholarship for many years to come.
Now that the school year is over we took the time to go to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and check out Grand Teton National Park. We had a wonderful family vacation and enjoyed time together as well as the beauty of the park. We were also reminded of life lessons learned. While hiking to Hidden Falls in the Jenny Lake area of the park, we found that much of the trail was still covered in several feet of snow. Landon didn't have on very good hiking shoes and struggled to get good traction. We were just about 30 yards from achieving our goal of the falls when Landon decided we should quit and go back. I aked him how he would feel if when we got back to the lake he realized we missed the waterfall by a few yards? He still didn't want to go on, but with some urging he continued and we all got to see the splendor of this magnificent scene. It made me stop and think how many times in my life I have wanted to quit when I was just short of a desired goal or needed blessing. I guess I was reminded that sometimes the blessing comes solely by completing the journey.
As we move forward on our journey we hope that we will have the courage to continue even when the trail is difficult and we feel like turning back. Knowing that the Lord will bless us along the way.
Lindy is a junior at Weber State University, studying English Education. She loves photography, camping, hiking, and spending time with her family. She is the best big sister ever!
Hillary is a junior at Layton High. She's studies a lot (and her grades prove it!) She has a very cheerful disposition and always has a beautiful smile on her face.
Madey is a very athletic young lady with the personality to inspire every one to be their best. She loves basketball, softball, and being silly with her sisters!
Landon is the silliest little brother ever. He loves to play with his friends and he plays hard! His giggle is infectious. He's recently tried out for the school play and got the part of Teddy Roosevelt in "Annie." We're so proud of him!