Notes from Maddie's childhood

When Cecily was still with us on this Earth, I  probably spent more time with Maddie than anyone aside from Cec, Jim and the Nannie, often meeting Cec and  Maddie in the nearby park after Cec had finished working for the day, and I'd push Maddie on the swings. Sometimes when I'd visit, Maddie would crawl all over me, and then fall asleep on my tummy. When Cecily first went into the hospital for 10 days, it was the first time that she and Maddie had ever been separated, and Maddie was an emotional mess. During Cec's first 10 days away, Maddie would express her feelings of need for her Mother out loud with the few words that she could put together: "No Bye Bye." During Cecily's 4 month battle, I'd do everything I could to help keep Maddie entertained and distracted from "Moma's Boo Boo," and sometimes I'd sleep over on the couch just in case any emergency help was needed with Maddie in the middle of the night. In fact Maddie saw me so much in the middle of the night when Jim would get up with her, she probably thought I lived there. (It was  convenient that once moved into the "new" big house, Maddie lived only 4 blocks away from me).

Cec had been my dearest friend for 18 years, and I could not have loved Maddie any more than my own child. Under Cec's direction from her hospital bed in the livingroom, I would spend many hours doing "floor time" at home with Maddie --- essentially games intended to help Maddie focus her attention on completing a single task, and to also focus on the person that she was with. One of the things that we invented --- which soon became her favorite --- was a game in which Maddie would assist all of her stuffed animals in hugging and kissing one another, and then Maddie and I would hug and kiss them too.

I obtained a set of a dozen "Baby Bumble Bee" videos, which would help a child to expand their vocabulary, and Maddie and I would spend countless hours watching those tapes, (in Maddie's therapy class, she was probably the only 2 1/2 year old who could identify a "SHARK" by name). I drove Maddie to therapy sessions at the Child Development Institute several times a week --- sessions that Cec had arranged for Maddie to receive starting just after age 2.

After the tragic loss of Cecily, I was able to devote myself to helping with Maddie on an ongoing basis during the first nine months that she was without her Mother. Maddie identified with me as being "Moma's friend." (one of Maddie's very first words was "Mark" --- it made me feel like the most important person in the world), and eventually Maddie would introduce me to people as her own friend: "This is my friend Marky" she'd say. In addition to taking Maddie to her ongoing therapy classes 3 days a week, a couple of days a week I'd take Maddie to "My Gym", and we'd have a weekly meal at our favorite restaurant ... to which Cecily's family members were  always invited. On Friday's I'd bring a pizza to the park for Maddie and the Nannie's kids, (from the only "Cecily approved" health food restaurant), and sometimes on a Sunday we'd take Maddie somewhere fun, again with family members invited to join us. I tried to to do my part in helping to bathe Maddie in the kind of love and attention that she received from Cecily, and to have her now feel the love of her Mommy's family. Fortunately, I was one of only 2 "Cecily Approved" friends allowed to drive Maddie anywhere, along with Cec's longtime friend Fran Miller.

During that period immediately following the loss of our Cecily, I posted notes for Maddie on this website's bulletin board. When Maddie is older, I will make all of the messages posted from others available to her. For now, though, I am providing my own messages below, as I realize that someday they may prove very helpful to Maddie in trying to understand how the events between the ages of 2 and 3 years of age so profoundly affected her. This is a period of time that virtually none of us have recollection of as adults, but which we strive to learn about in trying to make peace with issues of childhood. Hopefully I have preserved some key pieces of information from during that period of time which Maddie will find valuable someday. The notes begin just a couple of weeks after our loss of Cec.

I love Maddie more than I love anyone in the world, and I live for the day when circumstances will make it possible for us to spend time together once more.

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March 16, 2004

Cec, I wish that you could have been there in the flesh with Maddie today at MY GYM. Maddie is so, so beautiful; I can just see that huge beaming grin that you break out into whenever she comes into your view. One of the instructors who had been away for a number of weeks came up to her with his face lit in joy --- as is always the case whenever anyone sees your beautiful baby --- and said "Maddie Beaver. I can't believe how much you've grown. I remember your very first day here, when all you would do is run all over the place. Now you're practically all grown up." 

I remember that first day, Cec. I'd been babysitting in the afternoon, and when you got home I mentioned that Maddie seemed unchallenged with her toys. That observation worked you up into a fever pitch as you immediately whisked us all to MY GYM right away. And it was then that you found that Maddie had trouble socially. She wouldn't sit in the circle or interact with anyone. She ran around, in your own words, "like a wild animal." You were destroyed, and determined to help her socially … I think you knew then that she would need special attention, although it was still a while until the formal diagnosis. And I remember your tears at Maddie's 2nd birthday party, held at one of those GYM-type places. Maddie just seemed to be in her own world. That was last August. But because of all the therapy that you put in place after that, Ceco, as well as the endless work you did with Maddie at home, that all seems and feels like a lifetime ago. Your daughter is so together less than eight months later. She is a beautiful, thoughtful, gracious young woman. She will say "hello" to the other children (sure, with some prompting), and much to my amazement today, I realized that she was actually the most developed kid in her class. She's one of the few who will proudly announce her name out loud: "Maddie-the-Pooh" (she loves to get a big laugh --- now who does she take after, I wonder?). And she has no fear of being alongside other kids, though she still has a slight tendency to keep to herself. But nothing at all like before. I don't know if she should stay in the same class ... where she is actually the oldest, or move up a rung … where she would be the youngest. I wish you were here to figure it all out Cec. Your instincts and judgment were always so right-on about everything, (even if slightly overprotective … but then who would have expected otherwise of you? You wanted to be certain that Maddie had absolutely every advantage --- you always described her as "perfect." You always kept asking me, "Mark, do you really love my baby?" It made you so proud whenever anyone told you how much they loved Maddie).

I'm trying to help her get more into the habit of looking at me when we speak, still not her strong point. When she turns her head after a second, I'll gently place my finger on her cheek to indicate the desired direction, and I'll say, "Maddie … you have such beautiful eyes. Can I look at your eyes while we speak?" Sometimes it helps. And she is so loving and affectionate, a reflection of how you and Jim have always been with her. She loves to hug, kiss, tickle, have her tummy blown (if you blow on her cheek, she has this compulsive need to request that the other cheek also be blown upon … I wonder where she inherited a compulsive quality from?), and she really likes to rub noses. And if you make a point of asking to look into her beautiful eyes, she'll smile and lean in towards you, eye-ball to eye-ball. Oh Cec, you'd be taking such delight. And although I would have automatically loved your baby because you are so dear to me, I love Maddie 100% because of who she is. She has your same spirit, Cec. Your same soul. And she's even showing initial signs of healthy stubbornness. She's you're daughter in every sense of the word.  You know, I don't even think of Maddie as some sort of "new incarnation" of you. She is so much her own person. But I do think about you all of the time I'm with Maddie, visualizing the love you always gave her … taking what you had learned from the therapists and continuing it at home for every remaining hour of the day. I'd try to do it too, (with you directing, of course), and I'd burn out in 15 minutes. But you always had the patience of a Saint. There is something so, so special that you instilled in Maddie in her first two years of life. The person who Maddie is and will always continue to be is what you and Jim gave to her in that crucial timeframe. You know, Uncle Russell says that unfortunately because Maddie is under age 3, when an adult she won't actually remember in her own mind any of the stuff from this time period, even though right now she still asks "Where's Moma?" I know that was one of your great fears; that Maddie wouldn't even be able to remember you. But all of us will make sure that she knows everything, Cec, once Jim has decided how to handle explaining things to her. I have so many hours of beautiful video of you and Maddie, especially of when you were finally able to have Maddie on your knee again and to read to her, once your new doctor had found a way to treat your pain. And I've asked all your close family and friends to write their story about you that we can bind into a biography of you for Maddie to have. And sad though it may be right now, the video of the Tribute to you held at the DGA will be as insightful as practically anything could ever be. Your sister Chris sent me an e-mail and summed up everything very well: she said that when she was in emotional distress, it was you that she'd call. Yesterday Cathy called me and said the same thing: that you'd be on a plane within 45 minutes of getting her call. And that's the hell of it for me too. It's a catch 22. I so desperately miss you, mourn your loss, grieve for you absence "in the flesh,": and yet the person that I feel the desperate need to be turning to for comfort is you. You always understood, were always there for me, and never made me feel like you were giving me a token moment of your time. 

Well, this was just supposed to be about Maddie … so I guess I should close by saying that after MY GYM I took her to see your Mom --- both Maddie and your Mom had such a loving time together. And I promise that if I ever end up discovering independent wealth, I'll even get your Mom the house that you wanted to get her in Studio City so that she could be near Maddie. And at the very least, (wealth aside), I'm keeping my eyes on an affordable used i-Mac for your Mom --- I know how much you desperately wanted to get her one until financial concerns put it on hold. You know that I'll always do anything on your behalf that I know you wanted to get done, Cec. If I've forgotten anything, just come to me in a dream and remind me. Please.

Jim seems physically well, and gives the appearance of being ok on the outside. He is in a more "take charge" mode than I've ever seen him. I don't think it comes instinctively for him, so I know how proud you'd be of the way he is handling everything. As much as I grieve your loss, Cec --- and will every day forever --- I sense the unspoken anguish inside Jim to be beyond my comprehension. God he loves you so much.

Right now, even your grouchiest gripe would play like beautiful music to me. (You know, somewhere I actually have a recording that I once put together of all of the gripes you made during a 2-hour ADR session. Just the edited griping between takes ran for 10 minutes alone! I had always meant to find it and play it for you.) You'd also be really proud of Stacey. She is carrying herself so well under all of the emotional pressure. I love and care about her so much that I will always be there for her the way you would be … the expression CecilyAndStacey has always been like just a single word for me. And yet right now, she's actually the one who is shouldering me … she calls every day to see that I'm ok. And when I hear her voice I immediately see the glow that would come into your face whenever Stacey would come over. I know how much you loved her, and how uplifted it made you to spend time with her. She's going to be ok too, although none of us will ever have you out of our thoughts --- ever. You will never be alone Cec.

Well, I guess I should let you get back to work Cec. St. Peter must be having anxiety attacks since you've taken over reorganizing.  I will always love and cherish you until my dying day, my dearest friend --- "friend" sounds so trite. I recall when you were once telling me in the dressing room of ACME which things you needed me to carry for you, and when I had my arms full of cases and wardrobe, one of the actresses turned to you and, referring to me, asked: "How do I get one of those?" So I guess you and I are just "one of those."  I Love You, Ceco, Mark PS - Please give my Dad a big hug and send my love. I guess there's something to be said for having an "inside" connection. Now I'm off for another good cry and a shot of Gin --- maybe two … I figure I'm entitled --- Russell's grief recovery workshop isn't for another month yet, though I'm reading his book. It's the revised edition of the book you gave to me after my dad passed away. That somehow makes it all feel like a nice, circular connection of love and caring.


26 Mar 2004  

Dear Cec --- I know that you didn't want us to mention you in front of Maddie when you were in the Hospital, figuring that it might upset her in some way by pointing out your absence from the house, but you'll be glad to know that you are still very much a presence for her ... though it's kind of bittersweet right now. A short time ago I introduced a friend to Maddie, and Maddie asked "Is he Mama's friend too?" And I heard that just a few days ago someone was commenting about a bruise on Maddie's leg (I know that you must be panicked to hear that your baby has a bruise, but she's perfectly ok Cec ... I promise you.) Maddie was asked if she had a boo-boo, and Maddie replied "Only Mama has a boo-boo." We all love you Cec. Mark.


 

30 Mar 2004

e-mail to Jim:

Subj: Wonderful Maddie

Jim, in the rush I forgot to mention:

Today in the waiting room at therapy, Maddie said hello to a little girl, then gave her a hug and a kiss (while saying "hug"; "kiss"). Later when a little boy came in and his mother told him to say hi to Maddie, Maddie stood up, said hi, and gave him a hug and a kiss (same dialog). It was a spiritual thing to watch, having witnessed Maddie's history over this past year. You'd have been so proud, Jim, and I know that Ceco was beaming. At that moment, Jim, Cecily was truly 'happy'! Count on it. Mark.


 13 May 2004

Cec - your letter to Maddie written last October is so incredibly beautiful and moving ... even if painful. I can hear your voice exactly as you speak each word with such special love and emotion, for I so often saw and heard firsthand your demonstrative expressions of love for your daughter. In fact, I have never seen such a flow of joy between a Mother and child.

The last time that you and Maddie saw each other was when I brought Maddie up to your room just before Maddie's bedtime, even though you had told me earlier that you weren't feeling well enough. I figured you'd forgive me for not listening. I will never forget the instant that you both saw one another: that huge grin of pure love and joy on your face, and Maddie trying with such force to leap out of my arms towards you that I was afraid she'd fall. Sometimes I feel that most of my tears are more for what has been taken from you and Maddie together than even for my own personal pain of loss. If there were any possible way that I could have traded my own life so that you could have finished raising your little girl, you already know that I'd have done it in an instant. It is hard to reconcile all these events ... perhaps some day clarity will arrive for me. I miss you every moment of every day, Cec. Love, Mark.


31 May 2004

Hi Cec. I miss you terribly. I wanted you to know that I saw Maddie yesterday, (God how much she's grown since you saw her last), and she asked "Where's Daddy." I replied that he'd be back soon. Then she asked "Where's Mommy?" You are very much a part of your little girl's thoughts. There are many photos of you up around the house, and when the time is right there are hours of videos of you and Maddie to be viewed. And so many people to answer her questions. She will always know you, Cec. And she will always love you as much as you have loved her. You are still a part of all of us, Cec. We all love you. M.


21 Jun 2004

Dear Maddie, I sent this note to your Aunts and Uncles today. I think that someday it is something that you'll be interested to know. Love, Mark.

"I had my every-6-months visit with my MD Shrink today. I told her of the trauma of the death of my dearest friend from lung cancer. When I mentioned the name "Cecily", it was as if a lightbulb had gone on over her head. She told me that many of her patients were despondent over the death of Cecily Adams --- she'd never seen anything quite like it; I answered "Like an epidemic?" and she replied affirmatively. Apparently many of her patients went to Cecily's memorial service, and needed to come in to talk with her about their sense of loss. She said it was as if all of these otherwise unrelated patients of hers had a common deep feeling of love for Cecily, and that although she herself had never met Cec, Cec seems to have made everyone feel very special."


01 Jul 2004

Hi Maddie. You had your first black eye today --- at MY GYM. As you were bursting out into tears, you grabbed onto me for consolation, and asked me to kiss the "ouchee" to make it better. Then, after our weekly Chinese dinner with Uncle Russell and Max-The-Dog, you walked to the DVD store next door, peered through the window and said "I want to buy a movie." So we went in and picked up the "Elmo Takes A Bath" DVD. You are the nicest little girl in the world --- your Mama would be just as proud of you as I know that your Daddy is. And now that you can converse, I am able to ask you what it is that you are looking at when you sometimes stare off into space. You'll answer "the car" or "the man." In a way, it is much more comforting being able to exchange such information. I love you very much, uncle Marky.

{ADDENDUM: Once while near the DVD store, Maddie looked in the window and said to me "Marky, I want to buy a TV." I laughed and said to her lovingly "Madeline Rose Beaver ... your house already has more TVs than any house I know. There would be no place to put another TV." Maddie just smiled her beautiful smile and accepted the decision. Maddie rarely asked for anything of a material nature ... except for the occasional DVD when we would visit the store. I taught her that we can't buy a DVD every time, that sometimes we just look. She especially liked to look at DVDs of Winnie-The-Pooh and The Wiggles.

I should mention that upon entering the Child Development Institute shortly after turning 2, the very first thing that Maddie was taught was to say "I want ..." in order to facilitate communicating her wants and needs. So it was a very good sign anytime Maddie asked for something --- she was in fact doing exactly what she was taught to do. The other thing she was quickly taught to say was "need help" to communicate when she was having a problem and wanted someone to help her. I'll never forget the first time that I actually heard her use that expression outside of class ... in fact I was videotaping Maddie when she said it. It was so exciting to see the therapy bringing results.}


 

10 Jul 2004

 

Hi Cec --- here's an e-mail that I sent to Jim tonight that I figure will bring you some joy:

Maddie came up with the best line of all time today in the park. We were doing the thing that Cec created where we pretend to tickle each other and fake laugh, then Maddie said "cry" and began to fake cry, so I said "I can cry too" and began to fake cry. When I did, she turned to me and said: "Marky, don't cry. Be happy." What a kid you've got there. :-) Mark.


 

26 Jul 2004

Hi Maddie. Tonight your Daddy told the following story in his nightly e-mail to friends and family:

"Tonight I was telling Maddie the story of Three Bears, and though she usually listens attentively, this time she started extemporizing her own version of the story, throwing in new plot lines in the middle of my narrative, until I finally stopped telling and just asked her, "Then what happened?"  And she told me.  There seems to be a fairly strong Winnie-the-Pooh influence, as the interwoven plotlines of the four main characters all exhibited a strong relationship to the climbing of trees in search of honey.  Even Goldilocks climbed trees in search of honey."

I sent your Daddy an e-mail back telling him about you exploits in the park after our Friday lunchtime pizza, (which I get from Leonore's health food restaurant; the cheese is soy --- it's the only restaurant that your Moma ever approved of you eating at): "In the park Maddie will ask me to help her climb a tree, so I'll lift her onto a tree while holding her butt. She wraps her legs around the tree to stay steady, and then reaches as high as she can to get the honey from the baby bumble bees. Then once she has it, she will give me some and goes running over to Maribel and Debbie to share it with them. Maddie is the most amazingly creative, theatrical and generous kid that I've ever encountered."

Love, Uncle Mark. PS - you made my day on Friday when out of the blue you just said to me "I love you, Marky."

{ADDENDUM: Cecily told me many years ago that as a small child she was a Tomboy, and loved to climb trees. Whom does Maddie take after? As much as Cecily would have been in a state of constant nervousness with Maddie climbing high up in the trees, I know that she also would have been beaming at how much her little girl took after her.}


 

03 Aug 2004

Hi Maddie. You know, your Dad has written so many moving e-mails to family and friends every night since your Mom first got sick, that it is impossible to pick out any one e-mail that stands above the others. But there were elements contained in tonight's e-mail that I know will someday be especially important to you, so here it is:

"This morning Maddie had a three-hour assessment by the school district. All through it I missed Cec so much, partly because she would have loved to have seen Maddie's progress and the fine impression our daughter made on the assessors. But partly I missed her because no fact of Maddie's life escaped Cec, and the assessors asked all kinds of questions I couldn't provide answers for. They wanted to know when Maddie first sat up, first walked, first spoke. I could provide little more than "oh, a couple of years ago sometime." Cec would have said, "She first sat up at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, February 16, 2002." She might have had to look it up in one of the journals she kept on Maddie's development, but she'd have had the information at hand. If I knew where those journals were, I could go in and tell you what Maddie had for lunch on that date. Today did not allow me to feel like a good mother, at least as Cec would have defined it. And in so many ways, Cec did define it. Yes, she was neurotic and obsessive, but with Maddie those were just extreme forms of determination and devotion. In my refrigerator freezer, there's a little bottle of frozen milk. It's the last of the hundreds and hundreds of bottles of breast milk Cec pumped and saved for Maddie after Maddie proved unable to breastfeed. Cec had been so sickly when young, and none too free from sickness as an adult, and she was so determined to give Maddie a good immune system. Every doctor Cec ever told, and the doctor I told today, was astonished that when it became impossible for Maddie to breastfeed, Cec pumped her breast milk at least a half dozen times a day, so that Maddie could have the immune system benefits of mother's milk. She stored up excess, which she froze, so that Maddie could have the milk even after Cec had to stop making it. Only women who have done it, and the men who have been in their lives at the time, have any idea what an ordeal such an effort is. Every three to four hours, around the clock, she had a twenty-minute pumping session, even while working full-time. The only job I had was to clean the bottles and the pump equipment, and I thought I had died and gone to hell for those seven months. I had it by far easier. She was a rock, my Cecily. A rock to make Gibraltar look like egg-drop soup. And that one last bottle in my freezer reminds me, every time I see it. The assessors today were trying to determine Maddie's vocabulary and enunciation. They showed her some toys and asked her to name them. She did pretty well with a cow and a ball and even a yo-yo. Then they put a little yellow toy vehicle with big knobby tires in front of her and said, "What's that?" Maddie stared at it and said nothing. They asked again. Still nothing. With slightly raised eyebrows, one of the assessors said to the other one in a whisper, "I guess it's just too much for her, to say 'truck.'" Maddie looked at her and said, "It's not a truck, it's a bulldozer." You know, even if she was a tantrum-throwing, snotty little brat, I'd love her. But this? This is a piece of cake. Angel food."


 

12 Aug 2004

Hi Cec. I was watching a clip of video last night of you and Maddie, shot last December. Boy how she has grown. And how much I miss you. I took Maddie for our weekly Chinese dinner after MY GYM tonight. Uncle Russell and Max-The-Dog joined us. This Sunday is Maddie's 3rd birthday party, and Jim has set it up at the same Gymbouree place as last year (that seems like years ago, now). At dinner I asked Maddie if I could come to her birthday party. She answered "Yes," then added "maybe Mommy will come." (ADDENDUM: I then knelt down beside Maddie, and gently said "Darling, you know that Mommy had to go away, and can't be there." There was a pause, then Maddie threw her arms around me like she was going to crush me, and said "I love you Marky."    It was the most touching moment of my entire life).

You are still always in her thoughts Cec. Maddie loves you, now and always. As do the rest of us. xoxo Mark. PS - Thanks for visiting me in my dream last night. I actually woke up feeling OK. Maybe I should watch a clip of video of you every night, so that you come to visit. Be well, and try not to give St. Peter such a hard time. :-)


 

16 Aug 2004

Hi Maddie. Your third birthday party today was wonderful. Hopefully the Castle Bouncer that I got for you will arrive later this week. Your Aunt Stacey had to be out of town, so I wrote her the following about your party:

Maddie's party was wonderful ... we have 17 hours of video. Maddie was 180 degrees from the way she was last year at this time --- I remember Cec crying through much of it. Of course Cec's absence was very obvious this year. Her cake had Winnie-the-Pooh on it it, of course. Interestingly, back at home Maddie played on and off in the afternoon with the Merry-Go-Round that Cec gave her for Christmas. I said "That was your present" and she immediately said "from Christmas." She has told me in the past that it was from Mama ... I don't think it was an accident that it was special to her today. Just a few days ago she said of her party today "maybe Mommy will come."


 

26 Aug 2004

Hello my darling Maddie. This is a copy of an e-mail I sent to your Daddy tonight. Some day this information may be valuable to you in trying to work through your childhood feelings. Love, Marky.

Hi Jim. I'm glad that you arrived in time for the Chinese dinner. There is such joy in Maddie when you guys are together. It was a really nice event. I didn't have a chance to debrief you on some questions that Maddie asked me. We were watching a "Baby Genius"-type video while waiting for Russell. It was one I'd never seen before ... a "Baby Genius"-type tape. Maddie had requested the "Cat and Dog" tape, and at first we couldn't figure out what she was talking about. Then Lanie found a VHS jacket with "Cat and Dog" written on a blackboard in the cover picture.

At one point the image became one of a woman with a baby; a voice-over announced "MOMMY." Maddie asked me "Where is MY Mommy?" She was not agitated, but she was firmly puzzled and really asked like she seemed to want an answer. It didn't seem a whistful question in passing --- it was like she was genuinely using the opportunity presented by the video to ask something with firm intent. That was my gut feeling, anyway. I answered just as I have on the handful of occasions that anything has come up in the past; with what you once quoted in an e-mail. I said gently: "You know that she had to go away, darling." Maddie then really surprised me, since I've never experienced a follow-up question. "Where did she go?" I continued: "Mommy didn't want to go, because she loved you so very much." And then Maddie just blew me away: "But where did she go?" with an emphasis on the word "go," like maybe I just wasn't getting the point of her question. I fought back emotion and felt that the only appropriate way to answer was to say "I don't know, darling. That's something to ask Daddy." Mark.


 

01 Sep 2004

Dear Cec --- Today Maddie kind of caught Jim by surprise when she asked him with a note of distress: "Do you miss Mommy?" I was standing there, and I too was taken aback. Jim answered "Yes I do. We ALL miss Mommy." Then tonight, Jim sent out details in his nightly e-mail to family and friends of what happened later on:

She also suddenly, unexpectedly, started asking questions about her mom. She asked "Where is Mommy?" I told her Mommy had to go away, that she had to go even though she didn't want to. Maddie then asked, "But WHERE did she go?" I told her I didn't know. (There are clear psychological guidelines against telling a child this age that "Mommy's gone to Heaven.") I told her Mommy got sick with cancer and she died. She doesn't know what it means now, but when she does learn what it means, it will not require changing my story later. And since she doesn't know what it means, it means it has no trauma quotient for her. We just talk about the fact that Mommy loved her very much and wanted to stay with her, but couldn't. We've gone through this before, but today, she asked a lot of questions. Nothing about it seemed troubling to her. She just seemed curious about it, and seemed to miss her mommy. After her questions, she said, "Let's go in the living room and see her." There are two framed photos of Cec on the mantel and a large poster-sized photo on the wall, still there where I left it after the memorial service. Maddie asked questions about Cec, looking at the pictures. I told her Mommy was beautiful, just like Maddie, and that she looked like her mommy. She pointed to a picture taken around Maddie's first birthday, with Cec holding a bald Maddie, both of them grinning so delightedly. Maddie said, "Tha's when I was little. I didn't talk then. I didn't hab no hair." It was bittersweet. We got through it, okay.


 

08 Sep 2004

 

Hi Maddie, I sent the following e-mail tonight to your family and close friends:

I was really, really missing Cec today, and was grateful that an unscheduled visit took place: because it was too hot out for the park, Maddie and Maribel popped in to say hello, and we watched videos from Maddie's recent birthday party. Maddie was delighted to relive the whole event --- especially the part where everyone sings happy birthday to her. We made plans to have dinner at the nearby Leonore's Restaurant, the only Cecily-approved dining facility for Maddie. It was all so impromtu that Jim couldn't join us, but we promised to bring him back some pizza. Back at the Casa Beaver before leaving for dinner, Maddie dropped Henry the Octopus on the floor, and pronounced that Henry was hurt. I offered to give Henry a kiss, but it was apparently much too serious for over-the-counter medicine. Maddie told me that Henry needed to go to the hospital right away to see the Doctor. I asked where the hospital was, and while taking me by the hand Maddie informed me that the hospital was in her "Jumper" outside (an inflatable Castle that has an inflated floor, and which resides in the front yard). We arrived at the Jumper, only to find the Doctor (Elmo from Sesamie Street) laying down ... literally --- asleep on the job. Maddie was uncertain that treatment could take place under such circumstances, but I reached in and sat him upright --- apparently correcting the problem. At that point Maddie scurried inside the hospital with her patient --- a week ago she was terrified to go in the thing. She grabbed Dr. Elmo, who immediately kissed Henry the Octopus to make him better. Maddie was then given the option of bringing Henry to dinner, but announced that Henry had to stay in the hospital. Maddie then had two huge slices of Pizza at Leonore's Restaurant, and made small talk with virtually every patron in the place. When we returned from dinner, Henry was released from the hospital and into Maddie's custody. Maddie then ran in the front door, excitedly announcing at the top of her lungs to Daddy that she brought home a slice of Pizza for him! (To see Maddie race into her Daddy's arms is wonderful; it is like a magnet brought near a piece of metal). Cec would be so unspeakably euphoric at how Maddie is doing, and how well Jim has kept it all running. Mark :-)


 

08 Sep 2004

 

Dear Cec - Tonight I was taking videos of Maddie and her friend River after dinner. I said "Maddie, can you hug River?" Maddie turned to him and said in a strong voice "Kiss me, River." He ran away and she chased him! xo Mark


 

27 Sep 2004

 

 

Hi Maddie, I sent this note to your Aunt Stacey:

 

Last night Maddie looked at the ceiling fan in the livingroom, and it apparently triggered a memory of the ceiling fan in the house that Cec, Jim and Maddie stayed in last fall for 2 months. While looking at the fan Maddie mentioned that "there was a ceiling fan in Mommy's house," and she added that "Mommy slept." I just answered "Mommy had to sleep a lot because she had a boo-boo, but she loved you more than anyone in the world."   {ADDENDUM: Maddie also recalled that "Mommy cwied."}

 


 

02 Oct 2004

 

 

Maddie, another note sent to Aunt Stacey:  

 

Had pizza-in-the-park with Maddie today. It is amazing to contrast the total emptiness in life that I feel with Cec gone, with the joy during those couple of times a week when I am with Maddie for a few hours. I both love Maddie, and feel a close connection to Cec knowing that I am contributing in any way to the baby that was the major thing that really mattered to Cec in life. And Maddie has so much affection to give anyone she meets that the energy could light the National Christmas Tree.  

One night at our Vitellos dinner Maddie dragged me by the hand to take her into the back room, where a Piano Player plays and sings. He played a suite of songs for Maddie to sing, such as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Old McDonald, and the crowd joined in singing with Maddie as I held her up beside the piano. The pianist is an older gentleman, and absolutely cherished the enormous hug that Maddie gave him afterwards [Cec must no doubt be grimacing about all the germs Maddie may be picking up from hugging everyone :-) ].   

Maddie is incredibly funny and clever. Today she was rolling in the dirt saying repeatedly "I'm an Oinkee." This is in addition to frequently being Pooh Bear, and sometimes a Monkey (complete with monkey sounds). She loves to climb every tree in sight (to get Honey from the bee hive to share with everyone), and is completely devil-may-care swinging from the bar in the park, then using her hands to move all the way across to the other side (with some adult support, more out of my own fear of her falling), and then sliding down the pole at the far end, (Cec would be panicked, but beaming).  


Maddie's transition to using pronouns is 100% complete --- it happened virtually overnight a couple of months or so back. I think that her year of speech therapy placed all the info in her brain, and then when the last few neurons necessary connected, she became fully functional in one instant in time. There is no question that Cec's aggressive early start of therapy has paid off. (I know of parents with "slow" kids whose doctors tell them to wait until the kid is 4 to decide if therapy is necessary). And even when she was ill, Cec supervised behavioral therapy at home from her bedside.   

Maddie said that she had fun at school yesterday. According to Maribel there are 4 kids in the class at the moment --- 3 boys and Maddie. And 2 teachers. Maribel said that the teachers are very good with Maddie, and that Maddie loves the playground at the school. Jim apparently took pictures, so maybe I can put some up on the web. 

Maribel's kids have become virtual brother/sisters to Maddie. It sounds very much like Cec's relationship with Ida's family as a kid.   

Maddie continues to absolutely gorge herself on pasta  (with tomato sauce) at the Tuesday night dinner at Vitellos (after MY GYM - all are welcome to join us), and pizza-in-the-park on Fridays (3 slices today!).  

Maddie's official trip to the zoo is now scheduled for Saturday October 9th. I don't think she is quite prepared for what she will find --- she speaks of a "zoo" in terms of the local "petting zoo" at the Farmers Market. She has seen the San Diego Zoo video a zillion times on TV, but probably will have a revelation at how big those Elephants are in person. :-)  Mark.

 


 

08 Oct 2004

 

 

Hi Maddie, You had a new Nannie named Sara for a week while Maribel wasn’t feeling well  ---   here’s what I e-mailed your Daddy: 

 

Hi Jim -

 

Maddie was very good with Sara (and vice versa). And Maddie's friend Lili (in the park) was there, played with Maddie, and even had some pizza. I suggested that Sara make a general list for you of food that she thought needs to be bought in order for her to feed Maddie in the house. (I also suggested that she ask you for a typed list of immediate phone numbers to call in case of emergency). Maddie asked once where Maribel was, and I said that she was home because she wasn't feeling well ... that I thought she had some frogs in her throat; at which point Maddie did a fake cough and let a frog escape from her mouth :-) . Mark. PS - Sara said that when they got home, Maddie kept saying that she wanted to give Daddy his pizza. :-) 

 


 

17 Oct 2004

Hi Maddie. Here is an e-mail that I just sent out to your family members:

The get-together with Maddie is on for noon on Sunday at Maddie, Jim and Cec's house come RAIN OR SHINE. It doesn't really matter whether Maddie actually gets to a Carnival, or the Zoo, or any other place. It's all about Maddie spending Sunday afternoon with the people who love her; the people who will someday tell her all about her mother. Of course not everyone will always be able to attend every Sunday, but hopefully there will be enough interest to try to keep Sunday a family day for Maddie for as long as it fits into her schedule.

Last week I was watching a Winnie the Pooh cartoon with Maddie, and she said to me: "Piglet is sad." I asked why, and she replied "He doesn't have his Mommy." And today we were playing with Maddie's Madeline doll, and I asked in an upbeat voice "Is Madeline (the doll) a happy girl?" Maddie answered "No, she's sad." I asked why, and Maddie replied "She needs her Mommy."

Jim is the most loving father going. I have never seen such a special bond between father and daughter, and Jim has put together an amazingly loving environment for Maddie 24/7. Her 3 nannies are all wonderful, and very giving and caring. But Maddie is deeply aware of the loss of Cecily on a conscious level --- let alone on a deep sub-conscious level. Nothing will ever come close to replacing Maddie's loss. But spending Sunday afternoons with some of her loved ones can at least make a dent. Please keep an eye open for e-mails regarding Sunday, and attend whenever it is convenient. Maddie basks in the presence of many people who love her and who are paying attention to her. These are the people who someday soon, along with Jim first and foremost, will be telling her all about her Mommy. Mark.


 

19 Oct 2004

 

Maddie - It was so much fun spending Sunday with you at the carnival. Here is an e-mail I sent to your loved ones:

The thing that Maddie liked most about the Carnival was the little Zoo they had! Especially the Piggy, Bunnies, Goat and Chicken! I had read Maddie the flier days beforehand listing all the stuff that would be there. One of the things was "rides." Because of the potential rain, though, the rides were cancelled. Maddie had a great time, but amazingly mentioned occassionaly "There are no rides." Her total recall is absolutely amazing. I asked her if she remembered when she went with daddy to see the real "Wiggles" a long time ago when she was only two years old. She answered "With River."  (<her friend)


 

25 Oct 2004

 

Hi Maddie --- I'm copying you on another e-mail that went out to your family and friends:

This is to confirm that dinner is a "go" with Maddie Sunday night with Jim, Maddie, Russell, Alice and Mark. HOWEVER, all others are welcome. You haven't lived life until Maddie has given you a "squeezie." Addiction Warning: Once you have spent Sunday dinner with Maddie, you will want to keep coming back for more, and Maddie loves a hi-carb Italian diet. Further, Maddie has Cec's sense of humor, so that choking while laughing is possible --- eat at your own risk. (Not to leave out Jim's contribution, she does have his hair color and easy-going disposition).

Lovable Maddie story #42,895:

Maddie let out this huge shreek. I laughed and asked "What was that?" She turned to me and said very non-chalantly: "That was a scream."


 

25 Oct 2004

 

Maddie; this is how I described what happened at the restaurant when I took you into the back room to sing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" with piano accompaniment to a packed House:

It was thrilling to see how much she loved it. The room was just packed, and the smiles of joy on everyone's faces was indescribable --- as was Maddie calling out :"THANK YOU!" to people who called out compliments as I carried her towards the exit. It made me think of the show Cec did when she was pregnant, and then said afterwards that it was Maddie's first time on stage (which I have on video).


 

26 Oct 2004

 

Hi Cec: I took Russell's Grief Recovery Workshop this past weekend. Did a lot of crying. I miss you terribly. Yesterday 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!) Well, Ceco, I have to go now. I love you very much. We all do. I hope to see you soon sometime in a dream when you get a chance. Goodbye for now. Mark.

ADDENDUM (written in August 2006, just before Maddie's 5th birthday):

Darling Maddie,

     I last saw you just before Thanksgiving, November 2004. You were 3 years and 3 months old. As I carried you to your house I said "Mommy and Daddy built this house just for you because they loved you so much." You said to me "Mommy died," and then added hopefully "Can we go see her?"

     Your Grama Dell told me that when she visited you at Easter, March 2005, you said to her "My Mommy died. And she can't come back forever." You were very, very saddened, nervously tugging at your sweater. Sometime thereafter while in the car, you were looking out the window intently. Grama asked what you were looking at, and you replied "I'm looking for my Mommy." And in January of 2006, when you were 4 1/2, Grama raced after you when you ran into the road chasing a car (she was 82 years old!) and asked why you were doing that. You answered "I was trying to find my Mommy."

     It may also be helpful for you to know, my darling, that when you saw the DVD of the movie NEMO --- in which Nemo's Mommy dies and is eaten by the fish at the bottom of the ocean --- you told your Grama that your own Mommy was eaten by fish. Grama gently explained that this only happened to fish, not people, but very often you would put on the NEMO DVD and just watch that opening scene.

     Grama also told me of a time, after not seeing or talking to you for many months, that you asked her on the telephone: "Grama, did you die?"  It is so tragic that you learned of death of your loved ones at such a young age, my sweetheart, and also associated the concept with people being away from you for a long time. I hope and pray that you will find a way to deal with, and to resolve, this very sad childhood issue when you are older. I hope that the things that I have told you about on this page will be of help to you in knowing about your past, and about the unresolved issues that may be troubling you subconsciously as an adult. Just never forget how much your Mommy LOVED you, and how hard she was willing to fight to have every extra month, or week, or day to be with you. It was her dream to be able to take you to Disneyland for the first time on your third birthday.

     In the weeks after you were told that "Marky won't be coming to visit anymore," Grama said that you would ask your Nannies "Is Marky coming?" and they would sadly tell you that I wasn't.  I am deeply, deeply sorry to have been away from you for so long, my Darling. Always know that I love you more than I love anyone in this universe. Also remember that when anyone hugs and kisses you, it is as if they are giving you a hug and kiss directly from your Mother. Your Mother's love for you was so strong, that she is inside of you all of the time. And her spirit is surrounding you. You are never alone; never without her. And when the day comes that you and I are together again --- and I promise that it will come --- I have more stories to tell you about your mother than you will have the time to hear. I have all kinds of videos of your mother that I can show you. I will hug you so much that I will probably never let go. And that hug will be from your Mother as well.

     I love you, my darling Maddie, with all my heart and soul. Your Friend, Marky.


 

19 Mar 2005

We love you, Cec, with all our hearts. It's hard to believe that a year has gone by. If I could have traded places with you, so that you could still be with Maddie, I'd have done so in an instant. I've tried so hard to do what I know you'd have expected of me in your absence, Cec. Not everything has been possible. You were the glue that held everything together. I've tried to give Maddie the love that I know you would have wanted her to have. I've been in constant contact with your Mom to make sure that she is OK ... and frankly she has also been a shoulder for me to cry on. I even got your mom the i-mac that you always wanted her to have. Things haven't been easy for anyone. Life without you just seems so empty. But we are trying as best we can. You are the most special person that I have ever had the privilege to know, and to care about, and I am honored that you were my friend .. that you are my friend. The idea of going on without you here in the flesh is more than I can bear. I'll do my best. But it's really hard Cec. There isn't a moment of any day when I find myself not needing your advice, or for you to make me laugh. None of it has been fair, Cec. I'd give everything I own, I'd give my life, for just another instant with you. For Maddie to be with you for another moment. I'll do whatever I can do in your absence, although in many respects my hands are tied. I await the day when we can hang out again, and go roller skating, and just hang out and make each other laugh .. and argue. You are the most special person to have ever lived, Cec. I love you so, so much. Please watch over all of us, We need you. Your most caring friend ever in life, Mark.

My last words to Cecily, while she was asleep in those final hours: "I love you forever Cec. I am so proud of you, and so honored to be your friend."

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