Sunday, March 20, 2011

Thank you, Miss Madey!

It has been quite the internal struggle to know whether or not to continue updating our blog. For the longest time we thought since Madeline's battle was over maybe the blog should be over as well. But recent events have caused us to rethink our decision and so here we are looking for our "new normal". We really aren't sure what its supposed to look like or if we will even recognize it when its discovered, but we are learning a lot about ourselves and striving to embrace the unwanted changes in our life.
To help us on our journey we were blessed by the Make a Wish Foundation to take a trip to Florida. Madey had been granted a wish last year and just prior to her passing she changed her wish and requested that her family go to Florida on her behalf. When we received the news that Madey had changed her wish and that the foundation had made an exception to send us to Florida we were filled with many mixed emotions. The weeks leading up to the trip were filled with anxiety and fear, 'how can we take Madey's trip without Madey'? We were also informed that we would be staying at the "Give Kids the World Village" with other families that had children with terminal illnesses. We didn't know how we would feel when we saw beautiful bald headed children taking a break from their battle with cancer to enjoy Mickey, Minnie, and all that Disney World has to offer.
When we got to Florida and met the amazing people that run the Village, something started to change for us. We began to realize that this trip existed in many ways to help us heal. There were many teary moments, but they were good tears. We cried because we miss Madey, we cried because of the love and kindness of strangers, and we cried because we know no matter how much we miss our wonderful daughter, sister, and friend she truly is in a better place.
Our trip was truly amazing not only did we get to spend time at several theme parks, we also got to spend time as a family and we had what I guess you would call several "Madey Moments". One such moment came on the day we went to Sea World. We were so excited, none of us had ever been there and really didn't know what to expect. When we first arrived we immediately went to get seats for the dolphin show, it was really fun. We then went to the area where you can feed dolphins only to be discouraged by a long line. So we decided to see some of the other sights and come back later. The kids all wanted to ride the Manta rollercoaster, so while they waited in line Michelle and I went to save seats for the Shamu show. As luck would have it the roller coaster took longer than expected and the kids missed the killer whale show, so we watched it without them, awesome show. We decided we would go see some other shows and ride some rides and come back to Shamu for the second showing, which we did. After Shamu we hurried to the dolphin feeding area only to find out they had stopped feeding dolphins 15 minutes before we got there, bummer. So we hung around the dolphin viewing area trying to get a dolphin to come close enough so we could pet it. All Madey had wanted to do at Sea World was pet a dolphin. Well the dolphins were smarter than us and stayed just out of reach. I decided I should slap the wall to try and get their attention Cameron followed suit and we were reprimanded by one of the workers, embarrassing. Who knew that this one act of stupidity would lead to a conversation with the worker/dolphin trainer. She noticed that we were all wearing our 'Miles for Madey' fun/run t-shirts. She asked about them and Michelle tearfully explained that it was the two month anniversary of Madey's passing and we were on this trip to fulfill one of her wishes, to pet a dolphin. Before we knew it we were quietly ushered into the dolphin feeding area where the trainer got a bucket of fish and began feeding three very active dolphins, Jen, Starky, and Tiger. She got the dolphins to slide up on a ledge so that we could take turns petting them, it was amazing and so fun to hear the excited laughter of the family. Then out of nowhere one of the dolphins, Jen, splashed Michelle, and then stopped and just stared at her. There was no doubt that Madey was with us, and the playful behavior of a dolphin reminded us of the playful nature of Madey. Several scenes from the past returned to our minds, scenes of Madey squirting a different victim each night with a syringe full of water, or her squirtgun camera she had purchased at All A Dollar, all the while laughing because she got you. We left Sea World that night with grateful hearts, realizing there really are no accidents. Whether it comes in the form of being stuck on a ride, missing a show, or a long line at a dolphin feeding area, tender mercies are all around us, just waiting for us to recognize them.
We were only able to take this trip because of the kindness of others, we were blessed by the kindness of others all week. From the amazing staff at Make A Wish to the incredible people at Give Kids the World, to a dolphin trainer named Katie, and three area high schools who texted to bless our family. We anticipate the blessings of paying it forward as we strive to be difference makers, like Madey and so many of you....
Madey, your star will always shine on cloud 9 row 1 star 7