I've written and re-written this first paragraph 4 or 5 times tonight, hating everything that I put on this screen. How can you capture the feeling that washes over you when a beautiful sweet little girl who just a few weeks ago made you smile for no reason other than her flashing you a "who the hell are you?" look is suddenly taken away from this world? I'm pissed. Pissed that it happened to such a pure soul. Pissed that a mother and a father now have to live through the heartbreak of it all. And saddened to the core.
I didn't know Maddie, Heather or Mike that well, and I only met them once at a gathering recently at their home (of course Maddie won me over right away - who could resist a smile like hers!). But I'm a parent. And that is all the commonality I needed to share with them to feel a stab in the heart when I found out about this last night. If you are a parent, I don't need to go on. You understand.
If there is any ray of positivity at all that I can squeeze from this, it's that Maddie's smile is in the hearts of hundreds if not thousands right now. Her smile has manifested itself in an outpouring of generosity from people like you and me, donating to the March of Dimes in her name; mobilizing to walk as one in her memory; and using our collective voices online to keep that smile alive across the internet.
This isn't a plea to donate. This is simply a request to look into your heart and do what it tells you to do.
Rest in peace, Maddie.