October 29, 2004

Today was the ongoing Pizza-lunch-in-the-Park with Maddie (along with Maribel --- who is back after a 2-week illness  --- and her daughter Debbie). Maddie devoured 3 large slices!

Much of today was spent by Maddie practicing her "Roar", as Daddy got her a TIGGER (from Winnie The Pooh) outfit for Halloween. Maddie is very, very excited. Daddy is taking Maddie to a Party at Cec's old work later today. Maddie asked me if that meant she would get to blow out 4 candles. Maribel and I explained that her 4th Birthday isn't here yet, that this party is for Halloween, and that she will go in her Tigger outfit. To that she let out a loud "Roar!"

Maddie made a new friend in the park today named Sage. Sage is the same age as Maddie, and the pair played Mommy and took care of Sage's two baby dolls. Sage's Mom and Maribel exchanged phone numbers, and hopefully Maddie and Sage can have weekly playdates. Maddie already has a weekly playdate or two with a friend, so that hopefully her dance card will be full before long. It is great to see her interacting one-on-one with other kids. She also has a great relationship with Maribel's daughter Debbie, who is a year older. But Maddie still has a few openings.

Below is a story that I recently sent out to family members, and I include it to tide over all those in need of a "Maddie fix":

I asked Maddie if she'd like to take a nap on the couch, and she crawled up like she was going to doze off. Then I was allowed to discover the pleasure of what Jim does at bedtime: Maddie said gently "Tell me the three bears." I almost cracked up laughing. Knowing from Jim's e-mails the general direction that Maddie would take the story anyway was helpful, as I was able to build in openings for her involvement. I started out that there was a Maddie bear, a Mommy bear and a Daddy bear. Maddie immediately added that there was also a Baby bear ... so that now we were up to four bears. I said that they were eating dinner, and asked Maddie what they were eating: "HONEY!" And I asked where they go the honey from: "THE TREE!" She was so adorable. Well, I had the bears eat so much honey that their tummies got too big for the house, and as a result they moved in with Goldilocks and her Grama. Maddie immediately added "And her Mommy and Daddy!" Eventually I had Maddie go outside to find a horse, and she climbed on. I have always told Maddie that Daddy rides horses at work. So immediately she announced: "and they rode to Daddy's work." Thus Jim became a character in the story. At one point she had them riding past my house to get a cookie! (This was doubtless from a memory of when she and Maribel dropped by, and my Mom gave Maddie a cookie!)

{ADDENDUM: During Maribel’s 2-week absence, Maddie regressed in her toilet training. This is not unusual when a child goes through an emotional loss. To have been with Maddie you wouldn’t have known from her outward behavior that anything was wrong --- but deep inside there is no question of the impact the absence had. I tried to pop in for a few minutes during the days to say hello to Maddie so that she could see a familiar, loving face.}


November 2, 2004

Maddie has been getting up very early, and this hasn't been helped by daylight savings time. It seems that 6am is her new time to get Daddy out of bed. Daddy seems pretty tired these days.

Apparently Maddie had a good time at pre-school today. They are teaching the kids to develop their sense of "touch" and "sight" while the kids think that they are just having fun --- the focus today was on collecting leaves. And all the kids have been asked to bring in some Indian Corn. Maddie is very proud of the fact that she takes a "yellow bus" to school. Sometimes the bus doesn't show up, though, so today Maribel drove Maddie. So far Maddie seems very well adjusted to school.

Maddie hadn't been able to get to her gymnasium classes in a couple of weeks, and today it took her a little while to get back into the swing of things (she said to me "I'm scared," and I assured her that I would never make her doing anything that she was afraid of doing). Maddie cried for the first 20 minutes, (and wanted to hear "The Three Little Pigs.") But then Maddie saw how much fun everyone was having and joined in. By the end, she'd had a great time.

Then it was dinner, and Maddie ate them out of house and home. Pizza and spaghetti. She knows everyone there, and as soon as we enter she'll say "HI" to the owner. And before leaving she gave our waiter a big hug. Maddie is their favorite patron.


Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Maddie has started (actually re-started) some of the therapy that she was getting from the Child Development Institute (CDI) before she turned 3. The therapists come to the house after Maddie's school. This was a part of the negotiation with the school system, which should give Maddie 10 hours of special-needs pre-school plus 10 hours of in-home CDI per week.  It's fantastic that Maddie will continue to get therapy past age 3, because Maddie responded to the therapy so incredibly well in the past. Cecily got Maddie off to such an intensive and early start.

Maddie had a great time eating out at her favorite Restaurant tonight. Along were Uncle Russell, Aunt Alice, Lanie and Mark. Because everyone was hungry I took a gamble and ordered 2 --- count 'em, 2 --- appetizer pizzas. Maddie just wolfed the stuff down, so that not a slice of the two pizzas was left (admittedly, the grown ups had a few slices themselves). Then Maddie had a small plate of spaghetti. Where does she put it???

Maddie is also fascinated by the things hanging on the wall. Afterwards, she entertained to piano accompaniment with "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and 3 verses of "Old McDonald," (Chicks, Pigs, Cows). Her confidence must be getting higher, because this time she sang much louder. (Cecily, by her own admission, didn't get confidence until after being with the Groundlings Improv group
when she was an adult! Maddie is off to a great start!) Then Maddie hugged the piano player (who clearly doesn't get hugged too much by young girls --- he just melts when Maddie hugs him), and she hugged our waiter on the way out. She was a very well-behaved girl, (and beautiful, smart and growing fast) and on two occasions asked without prompting to go to the potty!

{ADDENDUM: That was the last time that I was able to take Maddie to that restaurant, but in August of 2006 one of the waiters mentioned to me that he would be singing in the back room later that month, and said "bring your little niece along, she'll enjoy it."  They still haven't forgotten Maddie after all this time.}


PS - An observation; a week ago marked 8 months since our loss --- and a number of family members I've spoken to have been recycling the feelings of sadness this week; some more like meltdowns. I've been especially aware of it, as I've been going through it too. I was very sensitive to Cecily's absence during the election, as she always had so many fierce opinions about things, (I was forbidden from even saying the name "Bush" in recent years because she would get so upset).

Sometimes when I take Maddie home I'll say "Mommy and Daddy built this house just for you, Maddie, because they wanted you to have a wonderful home to live in." Tonight she said, "Mommy died." (Jim has been telling her this in preparation, even though she doesn't yet understand it). I answered "Yes, honey, she did." Maddie repeated that Mommy died, then asked if we could go to see her. I answered as sparsely as I could, simply saying that when a person dies we can't go to see them, but we always love them.

I hope that we are all really earthly conduits for Cecily, loaning Cec our arms and ears and voices so that she can continue to interact with Maddie and help to give her all the love, security and support that Cec wanted Maddie to have.


May, 2005 - This month Maddie had her tonsils out. She was very brave and even excited by the prospect, fueled onward by the promise that afterwards she would be able to eat all the ice-cream that she wanted! Word has it that she spent a great deal of time in her daddy's arms afterwards.

Maddie's 4th birthday will be in August. When Maddie is old enough to understand fully, which may not be too far off, there are scores of people who will be able to see to it that Maddie knows all the details of who her mommy was as a person, and how much Cecily loved her little girl. I personally have 18 years worth of video of Cecily: ranging from Home Movies, to video of her stage and comedy improv performances, that Maddie will be able to experience someday. Along with all of Cecily's wonderful TV and Feature work. I even have video of Cecily working with the camera to develop her Moogie character --- it is quite fascinating to view pure genius at work.

And sometime soon I will get clips of those wonderful stage performances onto this site. Please be patient and keep checking back. Sometimes it is just too painful to work on the site, and at other times it becomes inspiring. Lots of ups and downs. Mark.


August 19, 2005 - Maddie turned 4 years old today. (It was just last fall that Maddie was going to have some cake for Halloween, and she stated: "I'll blow out 4 candles." Her Nanny and I laughed and corrected that the 4 candles wouldn't come until later ... on her birthday).

To celebrate, Daddy took Maddie (along with Cecily's Godmother Ida) to visit Grama Dell in Las Vegas. And Maddie's Grampa Don in Los Angeles asked Daddy to bring Maddie over to visit him. I was told that when Don saw Maddie, who looks more and more like Cecily each day, he broke into tears.


January, 2006 - Maddie had all sorts of visitors in a single weekend in mid-January, ranging from Grama Dell from Las Vegas, Cec's godmother Ida from Maryland, Aunt Alice and Uncle Russell, Cousin Claudia,  Aunt Stacey and Uncle Pasquel, Stacey's Mom Dorothy, Stacey's new baby, Cousin Amillee, Cousin Rebecca and her new baby Cousin Sophia. It would be wonderful if the three cousins all grow up to be close friends.


August 19, 2006 - Today is Maddie's 5th birthday. She has now been without Cecily for half of her lifetime.


Summer 2007 - Maddie went to visit Cecily's cousins in Maryland, and Cecily's sister Chris. Here is what Chris said about her time spent with Maddie:

"When she saw me, first sight, she threw herself into my arms. She can't possibly remember me, but in her subconscious somewhere ... I look a lot like Cec.
I took her hiking in the woods, down to the stream one day, the river the next. I "made" a hiking stick for her - whittled it with my swiss army knife. She took to it all like you wouldn't believe. She let go of all her fear and tramped through the water and rocks with her stick, barefoot, getting mud on her and looking for treasures. We had such an incredible bonding time I can't even express it. She is delightful. Interesting. Beautiful. And has a lot of Cec going on.  :)  I felt Cec with Maddie and I the whole time we were together."


August 19, 2007 - Today is Maddie's 6th birthday. :-)


August 19, 2008 - Maddie turned 7 years old today. From Jim's My Space Blog:

Maddie's birthday party was Sunday at 1... woke up Sunday morning at 11, two hours before a party I hadn't prepared.

It went fine, if you don't count rushing around town looking for a Slip 'n Slide, getting lathered in sweat trying to set it up, having 12 kids turning my lawn into a mud-wrestling pit and moving it, one footprint at a time, onto my carpets, the guest of honor throwing a hissy fit because someone else won the egg race, the guest of honor falling on the stairs and smashing her gums open (turned out to look a zillion times worse than it was), and someone leaving an overfilled diaper on the front porch in front of the door (yep).

Tuesday was Maddie's actual birthday, number 7.  I took her and Maribel's kids to the movies.  Between tickets and popcorn, it cost me slightly less than my first car. 

Last night Maddie wanted to know why there were wars.  I explained that people act either out of love or fear, and that when they act out of fear, they're afraid of other people or that other people will get something *they* should have.  I said if everyone acted out of love, people wouldn't be angry or mean.  She said, "If everyone acted out of love, then no one would have ever invented sadness."  She paused a moment and said, "Daddy, tomorrow lets invent something."  I said, "What do you want to invent?"  She thought a second and then said...... "Nachos!"

Maddie's mom's been gone almost 4 1/2 years now.  Most of that time, Maddie didn't seem as though she'd been permanently traumatized by the loss of her mother.  (She was only 2 1/2 when Cecily died.)  But the past month or two, she's suddenly opened the floodgates on the topic of death.  She wants to know what will happen to her if I die.  What will happen to her if she dies.  Whether Cecily can see us.  What Cecily is saying about us.  What happens to people's bodies when they die.  What did it look like when Cecily died.  What Cecily said right before she died.  Whether I cried when Cecily died.  Whether Cecily cried when she was dying.  Whether her mommy was sorry to go away.  Will I love Maddie even after I die.  And lots and lots and lots of fear that I will die and leave her alone.

I'm told by wise and experienced people in this field that these are good and normal questions and concerns at her age.  I'm told that I'm dealing very well with them, that I'm saying the right things. 


August 19, 2009 - Maddie turned 8.


March 3, 2010 - (From Jim's Blog:)

Madeline Rose Beaver was 2 ½ the day her mother died. Today she’s 8 ½. She’s in the third grade. She had a rocky end to the second grade and an equally difficult beginning to the third grade, but she’s made such rapid strides that my heart soars whenever I talk to her teachers and school administrators, as they are so elated with her. Just this morning as I dropped her off, her teacher asked jokingly if they couldn’t keep her on the weekends, too, because the whole class loved her so. Trust me, no teacher of mine ever asked for extra time with me!

Maddie heard that some of the Special Education kids were being ridiculed by other kids at school, and she went to her teacher and asked if her class couldn’t do something about it. She proposed making a movie about the Special Ed kids, having them talk about what it feels like to be made fun of, and showing the other kids in school that there isn’t anything so different from themselves about these kids. Maddie corralled the principal into filming it, and she wrote a script and cast it and directed it. It’s not quite finished, so I haven’t seen it, but even considering I wrote and directed my own first film this year, Maddie’s film is the cinematic achievement of which I’m most proud.

Maddie started the school year in September with some big anger issues and disruptive behavior. By December she’d been voted Student of the Month.

She is, I’m afraid, completely capable of getting the cart before the horse. After I introduced her to the Beatles’ music a few months ago, she decided she wanted to form a band of her own. I encouraged her to learn to play an instrument first, in my stodgy old predictable way, but she would have none of that. Her first step was to announce to her classmates that she was in a band. While she had yet to invite anyone else to form the remainder of the band with her, her confidence was nonetheless high. Then her teacher invited her and her band (the Madrobeas—MADdie ROse BEAver, get it?) to perform for the class. At this juncture, Maddie owned up to the possibility that she’d gotten ahead of herself. She’s still rather worried about how to proceed, since her class seems highly anticipatory of the concert. I’m going to let her dangle a bit, see how she works it out.

I’ve been playing classical music for Maddie since she was born, and she loves it. She asks what instrument is in the forefront of the music at certain moments, what kind of piece the work is, and who composed it. But this fall, I introduced her to the Beatles and she fell headlong in love with their music. I’ve since started playing classic Sixties rock for her, and she’s completely enthralled with it. At the moment, her idolization of the Beatles is wavering slightly, as she’s got a heavy jones for Tommy James & the Shondells. She found a website that mentioned that Paul McCartney is having an L.A. concert later this month and she’s desperate to go. I’m not sure what we’ll do about that. I’m probably going to be in Canada, even if I could get tickets, and I’m not sure such a concert is the place for an 8 ½-year old. I haven’t been to a full-on rock concert probably since Yes in the Seventies, but as I recall it’s a great way to destroy your hearing. Maybe Sir Paul is more mellow than that.

Maddie’s tall and skinny, the way I was as a kid. The resemblance pretty much ends there. She looks so much like Cecily. Most of the time, her own features preside, with only glimpses of her mom. But over the Christmas holidays, I was seriously disoriented by her appearance. We had gone to Mexico to my sister Denise’s place in Puerto Peñasco. Because I am a terrible mother, I had no idea what to do with Maddie’s hair, which is very long. So I just didn’t do anything with it. Normally, Maribel the nanny from heaven braids her hair. I can’t. So Maddie ran on the beach and let her hair fly free for a week. (It eventually took Maribel about another week to get the tangles out of it.) But for that week, with her hair down, Maddie was transformed into her mother. I’ve seen so many photos of Cec as a child Maddie’s age, and with her hair down, Maddie is Cec’s clone. It was difficult for me. It was as though Maddie had disappeared and I was suddenly raising young Cecily. There was such melancholy looking at “Cec” the youngster, and almost a melancholic feeling as well at Maddie’s seeming “absence.” It was the most confounding transformation, unsettling yet simultaneously sweet. We came home and Maddie got her hair untangled and braided and “little Cec” disappeared and Maddie was back.

Maddie’s reading "Life’s That Way" now. She asked if she could and I said yes. She seems to read it matter of factly, without particular outward emotional responses. Of course, she seems to be skipping around, focusing on mentions of herself, rather than reading in detailed fashion. I don’t know if it’s wise for me to let her read the book—there’s so much pain in it, and I suspect that the uplifting aspects will be lost on her more than the painful parts. But I believe in openness within reason, and I don’t believe in overprotecting.


August 19, 2010 - Maddie turned 9 years old today. I miss Maddie with al my heart and soul, last having seen her just before Thanksgiving 2004. Mark.