You knew her when she was just a little thing. You came to my baby shower. I have pictures of you holding her…all swaddled in pink. You know her name. Her name is Madison Charlotte. How dare you refer to her as that thing that happened?! Granted…maybe that thing you were referring to was actually her death…but even still…THAT is not just a thing that happened. You did not come to Madison’s wake. You didn’t stand in line in the freezing cold as almost nearly 1,000 people did that cold February night. You didn’t hug us….with tears streaming down your face….and tell us how damn sorry you were. You didn’t come to her funeral either… you didn’t hear her best friend talk about how much she loves Madison…or the story about how Madison let all the fish go back into the lake when no one was looking. No. You did not. You did not come to our home. You did not send us a card. You did not send us flowers. You did not call. And then…nearly four years later…you see me. And…you didn’t know what to say… Well…let this be a lesson for anyone who doesn’t know what to say when you see someone who has lost a child…or has lost anyone for that matter. What happened today…what was said….is how NOT to speak to me or anyone else.
I walked into your place of business…unaware you still worked there. It wouldn’t have mattered had I known…I still would have come in… There were many people…looking back…because in those moments…the worst moments of your life…you hardly care who is there….faces blur…the I’m sorrys bleed into one another… but there were many people who I expected to see and hear from and never did….and although it hurts….I don’t hold a grudge. It is what it is.
But today I walked into your place of business… and there you were. At first there was a “Hey!” and a bright smile. Then…. you looked at me and then at my daughter and you said… with awkward hand gestures, “I…uh….know about that thing that happened but…uh…who is this?” You were referring to my little one. I swallowed hard. THAT FUCKING THING THAT HAPPENED????!!!! The words screamed in my brain. THAT THING THAT HAPPENED???!!! I took a breath…. “This is Carly. Can you say hi, sweetie?’ Now my gaze was fixed on Carly….I couldn’t look at you. Had you really referred to the death of my precious daughter…the death of Madison Charlotte…as that thing that happened? You did and you didn’t stop there. “I’m sorry about that bad thing that happened to you. I heard about it…well, it’s actually funny how I heard about it…my best friend is neighbor’s to someone related to your husband’s family. It’s funny I heard about it that way. Funny.” My heart…at this point…is pounding out of my chest. THAT BAD THING THAT HAPPENED???!!!! Can you not bring yourself to say the words? Can you not bring yourself to say her name???!!!! You think it’s fucking funny how you heard about it. Are you fucking kidding me? I couldn’t say another word. I just stared at you. And then down at the counter. You took my order and walked away.
I wanted to scream at you. I wanted to shout out, “Her name is Madison and that thing you are referring to was her DEATH!!!!! And NO it’s not fucking funny how you heard about it…NOT AT ALL. There is not one god damn thing that is funny about losing Madison. NOTHING. And the fact….the fact that you KNEW and you still didn’t come. You still didn’t send a card. You still didn’t call. There is nothing funny about that either. Like I said, it is what it is. Did your absence change my perception of you? Yes it did. Does that mean I hold a grudge or expected some kind of apology from you? No. No it does not. So for anyone wondering how that could have gone….I have a few thoughts.
First…understand….I don’t expect…if you did not attend her services or reach out to us at all…I don’t expect an apology. We all handle grief in our own way….so maybe you just couldn’t. I accept that. But with that being said….
SAY HER NAME! Do not refer to my daughter….my beautiful, intelligent, funny, kind daughter…as an it… or that thing that happened… She was not and is not…an “it.” She IS my daughter…my child… and saying what this person said was far worse than saying her beautiful name. Her name is like music to me. It’s like the beginning notes of a lilting tune…one that each time you hear it brings…it brings you uplifting joy and crushing sadness. Understand that saying her name is not reminding me she is gone. Not a moment has passed in 3 years, 7 months and 20 days….that the painful reality of Madison’s absence doesn’t envelop every breath I take. Saying her name only reminds me that she is missed by others.
If saying her name is too hard for you… then say nothing. Do not refer to her passing as that bad thing that happened. Do not laugh about how you found out about her passing. Just have a basic conversation. And continue on with your life…and leave me the hell alone. What you said today…I will never ever forget. And now I will hold a grudge. Now when I see you…my stomach will knot…. the words will replay in my mind… and I will make it a point to avoid you if I can. They say sticks and stones may break my bones…but words will never hurt me….this is just one more untruth. Your lack of action 3 years, 2 months and 20 days ago didn’t sit well with me….but your words today hurt me much more deeply.
Madison Charlotte. Your loss…your death…was so much more than just “a bad thing that happened.” And you were…and will always be…so much more than an it. You are our everything. We love you more than words could ever express….and will miss you until our last days.
Until we meet again…my love…Madison Charlotte.