Friday, November 4, 2011

Light a Candle for Sweet Maddy, Nov. 6th, 1pm

photo from our DS playgroup at my house, March 2008, Sophie, Maddy, & Braska pictured

A week has gone by in a flash since my friend Colleen lost her 4 year old Madison to a tragic accident at home. The entire Down syndrome community and beyond has been awash in grief. As I hold my kids even tighter I find the tears starting up again without warning. I cannot even begin to imagine how my friend and the family are coping or how you come back from this.

Maddy's accident has struck a nerve deep inside of me, in a primitive place where a mother's protective instincts have been imprinted in our DNA. As parents, we do the best we can to teach our children about safety. For those of us with children with special needs, the fear of our child being in an accident is heightened. Many of our kids, like Sophie, have little sense of danger but also do not understand the consequences of their actions. This is a very dangerous combination.

We call Sophie Houdini, and it is not a term of endearment. Sophie can and will escape our house or her school at any given opportunity. Why? The Lord knows. The point is that when our many baby gates, locks, her Personal Care Assistant at school, or our other security methods fail, she is gone. When this happens at home, she heads to one of two places; the street/sidewalk, or the back yard.

Sophie is currently sporting a blackened fingernail as she tried to slip out the door behind me as it was shutting and it got caught. On Monday, as I was getting her out of the van, even as I had her in my grasp, she wriggled out, headed up the street and straight for an oncoming car. This isn't the first of these events, and I know it will not be her last.

Last Friday my friend Colleen left her 4 year old Maddy at home with her 14 year old brother while she drove the younger boy to school. Maddy got out of the house. No one knew until it was too late. Maddy was struck in her driveway and mercifully passed away immediately. This is not Colleen's fault, it is not the brother's fault. It doesn't matter that they were in a large vehicle versus a small car. It was an accident and every parent's worst nightmare. It could happen to anyone.

Although I desperately want to be there to hold my friend up on Sunday for her daughter's services, I cannot travel back to Champaign, IL at this time. So I will join with the rest of the community who are mourning Maddy's passing by honoring her mother's wishes. Please read and share what Collen has requested:

"God wanted her home- while we can't understand and may never understand why-He called her home to Him. She is safe and will always be with us- in our memories, in our hearts, in the breeze, the child's laugh that resonates throughout the place we are at- her spirit remains with those who loved her."

For those wanting to celebrate Maddy's life:

Celebration of Life Service
St. Matthew's Church
1304 Lincolnshire
Champaign, IL

Sunday November 6th at 1pm

Balloon launch to take place after service

A meal will be prepared for family and friends following the balloon launch.

PLEASE: Mom does NOT want any flowers/plants- if you would like to make a memorial donation to help with the Celebration costs, you can do so online at:

If you would like to leave a comment about Maddy (memory of her) or words of encouragement for the family, please do so- we will print all comments and put in the memory box for the family.

For those that can't attend: If you want, light a candle for Maddy on Sunday at 1pm and post pic to mom's facebook page or email it to me at, I will forward it on.

You may also grab the digital blog button below made by our friend Randa Kay (RK) on her daughter's website Braska Bear:

Some of you know the Christian artist Steven Champan Curtis. He wrote the following song for his two young adopted daughters and tells the story behind it below. Their family suffered a similar loss when his teen son accidentally struck his daughter with their car and the song took on a much deeper meaning. His later album "Beauty Will Rise" is about how they were able to come back from this terrible loss. Colleen this is for you. I love you Hon.


Becca said...

I've been thinking about this all week (has it really been a week already?), and telling lots of people as a warning. So, so tragic. Thinking of her family.

My name is Sarah said...

This is Joyce. OH dear, tears fall down my face as I read this. My heart just breaks for this family especially thinking back to the time when Sarah would sneak out of the house and within a split second be gone. I remember all to well the screech of tires one afternoon as a car narrowly missed hitting her. Oh my what this family must be feeling. Our prayers are with them during this most difficult time.