This is the not-happy post, but as a disclaimer, Amie is perfectly healthy.
Back in February, we had the opportunity to do a Make-A-Wish video with Lloyd Carr and a bunch of other kids. One of those kids was named Maddie.
Feel free to go watch it for a sec if you wouldn't mind.
Maddie is the young lady on the left with the blue bandana.
I had heard someone mention Woodhaven when they were chatting, and I approached her family to make the comment that I was also from Downriver.
(Total aside, what is it about being from Downriver that you are proud of it and want to talk to others also from there? )
Anyway, we got to chatting, and I realized that Maddie was also an 8th grader.
There's something about seeing a girl in 8th grade struggle through all of this that made her....more special in my heart. I spent the year at McBride Middle School getting to know so many different 8th graders. Some had virtually no problems, others had buckets. Yet none of them had anywhere near the set of obstacles on their plates that Maddie did. Yet every time I talked to her she was happier than every one of my students.
In one of our last times we were in the hospital, Maddie was there as well, as her Leukemia was acting up. We spent a little time in her room chatting and playing, and she totally doted on Amie. She was a big sister in every way, and was really connecting with her. Amelie wanted to go play with her more and more (in the persistent way that only a 2-year old can do), and we had to keep holding her off due to Maddie's strength.
Maddie was Amie in a lot of ways to me. She was a girl doing her absolute best with an absolutely crappy set of circumstances and she was really happy most of the time. Think about what it is to be an 8th grade girl in most schools? You're judged on EVERYTHING, and there's a massive social hierarchy that has to be obeyed. The social pressure was amazing. When I asked Maddie about going back to school, she couldn't have been more excited. The girl had a passion for life and friends and family and religion and....everything.
Maddie died Sunday night.
Her Leukemia took over, and through all the interventions....all the horrifically awful interventions that they tried, she was not able to get control of the disease, and she died.
The last time Amie was in the hospital for her last MRI, we came out of anesthesia and looked across the aisle, and there was Maddie. She was miserable, in pain from her own procedure. But she took a moment and tried to make small talk and to help Amelie get a smile on her face as she was coming out of her own procedure. It's that kind of thing that just floors me.
I construct a really amazing little shell around us in my mind. I know that the medulloblastoma is a ticking time bomb that could explode at any time, yet we have to plan for the best, plan for the most positive outcome. I do a really damned good job of that most of the time.
But Amie is Maddie and Maddie is Amie. Hot damn it's hard to keep that shell intact with something like this making it so damned REAL, so uncompartmentalizable. I had only met her a handful of times, but what she was going through connected so much. Seeing the normal 8th grader struggle in my classroom and then add in the nightmare of leukemia was just so much more...
So tomorrow we're going to say goodbye to her. Her nightmare is done, the overwhelming burden of trying to stay strong in the face all of that poison in her system has ended. She has found peace, no matter where that is.
Maddie, you were a great role model for many, and especially for me. You wanted to take care of my daughter, even though you were in your own nightmare. Sometimes we need to look outside of our own problems to find solutions.
I'm out of words for tonight. I will finish in saying that I can only hope that my girls grow up to be as strong, selfless and kind as Maddie was in the few interactions that we had. Thank you Maddie, and enjoy your hard earned rest.