Monday March 10, 2008

Cindy writes:

Well I just have to laugh. Louisville has been pummeled by an early spring snow storm and I love hearing back how many people got out the DUCT TAPE to keep their kiddos feet dry! I love it. The stuff is magical I tell ya. You should see what Dave can do with a transmission and duct tape!Last week was a hard week but we got a lot done that needed to get completed. We purchased Maddie's headstone on Wed. It's taken us a really long time go in and buy one because we didn't want her memorial to be just a name and a date. She was so much more than that and I really wanted anyone that walked by to know that. It took us a while to "design" it but I'm glad we took our time and I think the end result will be worth the waiting for. I'm sure we'll take a picture of it at some point. Speaking of the cemetery I must tell you of a headstone that we pass every time we go visit Maddie's grave. It really makes us giggle and adds some brevity to the whole experience. There's a little old lady buried somewhat near Maddie. Her headstone has her name, date, and then one lone quote and it says, "I just love Poulsbo!". I don't know why but I think it is the funniest thing and so now it is our family catch phrase. When things start getting heavy and overwhelming it's amazing what letting lose of one round of "I just love Poulsbo!" can do to change a mood!

The other "thing" that has been done this week is that we went back to Children's to go over the autopsy report with Dr. Baden It was disappointing in some ways that in the end there was no "smoking gun". Results showed that Maddie did not have either a bacterial or a fungal infection so it will continue to be a great mystery as to what really went wrong to cause all her fevers and the result of putting her back on ECMO. It shows that she didn't need to come off the transplant list after all. However, it also showed (and was the impression of the coroner) that her kidneys were even more damaged than we thought and he speculated that she probably would have needed a kidney transplant eventually as well. It showed that there were many many areas of her body which were infarcted which basically means suffered tissue death. Presumably from the last round of CPR. It was sad and quite hard to sit through, but in the end Dr. Baden pointed to the papers in his hand and said, "you know what, this isn't Maddie". And he is right. I just have to assume that in the end it was ultimately the Lord's mercy to say "enough Madeline, come home". No more pokes, no more blood draws, no more feeding tubes, no more surgeries, no more stranger's, no more fear, no more pain . . . it is enough.

We spent the rest of that day visiting with "old" friends and making our rounds of "howdy's". It was so good to see everyone. Afterward we went out to dinner and met a few of our closest hospital buddies (ok maybe it was a little bit more than "a few", more like 18 to be exact). It did our hearts good to be around everyone and we treasure that time. It's like a little piece of Maddie that we can hold on to through them and we value these friendships as one of our greatest blessing's of this whole experience. They are the bright lining through so much of the darkness.

Friday March 21, 2008

"But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Matthew 6:20-21

The kids have a lot of scripture memory cd's. The other day we were listening to the "Seed's of Purpose" CD and the above verse's song started playing. I started singing along and the realization hit me. One of my greatest treasures is now in heaven and yes, that is where my heart is now as well. It gave the verse a whole new perspective for me. Hopefully Madeline is my only earthly treasure (as far as my children goes) that beats me heavenward, but having one child there certainly helps me view my time here on earth different. It definitely helps me to live with one foot here and one foot in heaven. There is no longer any fear of sickness or disease or accident. I'm either here living life with Dave, Sam and Anna and for God's glory - or I'm there, in the total awesome presence of the Lord with my Madeline. It's a win/win situation and I am good with that.

After a few mention's from a few people I realize now that not everyone that reads this is from Washington and some of you are sitting around going "what's a Poulsbo?"... oops, my bad. For a really great definition my father-in-law left a message on the message board all about the history of Poulsbo, it's name and everything else you could ever want to know about the town. For those of you not so inclined to look back, Poulsbo is a town. A cute little town near us and it is the town in which Madeline is buried (and so for that matter is the little old lady who loves it so).

With the approach of Easter also comes the approach of Madeline's birthday. It seems that Easter is always a very melancholy day for us in regard to our little miss. It was 4 years ago on Easter morning that she was first diagnosed with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (after a night of emergency calls, ambulances, airlifts and ICU's). It was 4 years ago that our hearts were forever changed by a little girl with a lot of Attitude. Four years ago God embarked us on this whirlwind tour of life. I am so grateful He gave her to us and that we had the awesome privilege to have been called "Mommy" and "Daddy" by one such little girl. With Easter comes the promise of hope eternal. The tomb was empty, our Savior lives, and with that life so does our precious Madeline. With that empty tomb comes the promise that because of our love for Him we will spend eternity with her. Easter may be a hard holiday for us, but it is one filled with a promise of what's to come.

April 7th is Madeline's birthday. She would have been four years old. To honor her our church is doing a blood drive on her birthday (if you gave at her "visitation", enough time has gone by, you can give again now!!). I love that. It was hard to figure out "how do you celebrate that day?" and that is the perfect answer - by giving life! And so once again you can do so on April 7th at Cornerstone Missionary Alliance, if you don't live close by you can go to any blood bank and give in her honor. We could only get the bus this time so signing up will be even more important than last time. If you don't go to Cornerstone you can call the church at 360-697-3777 and they can sign you up. There is also a young woman who is doing a toy drive in Madeline's memory to benefit Children's Hospital as her high school project. She will be there that day collecting toy's. So if you want just drop by a toy (not wrapped) and forgo the blood thing that is also do-able. It's good to know that we will be doing "something" that day. I think it will help.Happy Easter!

Monday March 31, 2008

Next Monday (April 7th) is Maddie’s birthday.  She would have been 4.  To honor her, there are two blood drive / toy drives being held.  One is through our church family in Poulsbo (there’s that name again) and the other is through our Kentucky family.  The details are as follows:

(Both crews made flyers for the occasion.  I tried to duplicate them here, but I know I messed them up.  The originals looked much better.)

April 7 th Cornerstone Church in Poulsbo 15350 Cox Rd NW

In Celebration of Maddie Lester

Puget Sound Blood Center will also have a bus in the parking lot.
To reserve a spot call Angie Evans (360)697-3777
12:00 pm - 3:00 pm  & 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

*For health and safety reasons Children’s Hospital can only receive new toys that are washable and non-toxic. For a list of needed toys go to: http://waystohelp.seattlechildrens.org/donations/toys.asp


Give the Gift of Life
A Red Cross Blood Drive
In Memory of Madeline Lester   When: Monday April 7, 2008
4:00p.m. - 8:00p.m.

Where: St. Gabriel School
5505 Bardstown Rd.

Fern Creek , Ky. 40291 We will also hold a toy drive, Toys will be donated to the Lester’s charity of choice Go Maddie, Go


Cornerstone Alliance Church
15350 Cox Ave NW
Poulsbo, WA 98370
(360) 697-3777

Blood donations are by appointment, but toys may be dropped off any time!
There are still about a half dozen open slots.  Call the number above to claim one.

Monday April 7th from 4-8 pm
Saint Gabriel School
5505 Bardstown Road
Fern Creek, Kentucky 40291
For more info, check out: www.maddieshirts.blogspot.com

Thanks in advance to everyone who participates.  We can think of no better way to celebrate Maddie’s life and memory than to give life to someone else.  By the way, if you can't make it to one of these locations, you can still give in Maddie's name at any local blood center.  God bless.

April 12, 2008
From the Amplified Bible:

"...and our hope for you (our joyful and confident expectation of good for you) is ever unwavering (assured and unshaken); for we know that just as you share and are partners in (our) sufferings and calamities, you also share and are partners in (our) comfort (consolation and encouragement)."
2Cor. 1:7

Cindy writes:

Sorry it's been a while.  We really meant to update sooner but Dave was out of town and I am technologically challenged.  We really wanted to update this time with pictures.  And so, now that my man is back - voila!!I believe I will begin with Maddie's birthday:Monday was a wonderful day (maybe not weather wise, but for "feeling loved").  Once again we could so completely tell that we were being prayed for.  What we anticipated as being a very hard, very emotional day, was one of blessing, encouragement and honor.  Not only in Washington, but in Kentucky as well.  It still is staggering to us how loved that little girl of ours was/is.  There were 39 pints of blood donated here and 29 in Kentucky.  And the toys, oh my word, the toys!!!  We were laughing about how Mad's was probably looking down going, "dag, I never got that many presents!  What gives???"  It was such a beautiful day to honor such a beautiful little girl.  I can't thank you all enough for coming out and loving us like you do.  Since Dave had to travel to New Mexico on Monday I tried to take as many pictures for him as I could.  Since we couldn't be at two places at once, Louisville did the same for us.  WAY TO GO LOUISVILLE!  I must say, Diane and Wendy (and also most of Dave's family) are amazing that they could pull together the entire event in about one weeks time!  Diane did say she worked best under pressure... I must say, "I do declare... it was amazing!!"  Thank you, y'all!  We are humbled by your efforts to bless us.  It worked!

I don't know if anyone read my mother's note on the message board, but there was some humor to the day (of course).  There was a group of us that went to the cemetery around 4 p.m.  Up until about 3 the weather had been lovely.  Then came the hail, the sleet, the torrential downpour - so we decided that was a good time to go.  Some people had brought balloons to the blood drive and my mom had also gotten some to bring.  We had planned to release them there.  We found out balloons don't fly so well in the rain.  Mom began trying to "volleyball" them up into the air to encourage them to fly... to no avail.  In the end we had sopping wet children running all around the cemetery trying to gather up all the fallen balloons.  It was quite hysterical, and again I could just picture my littlest one just giggling away as she watched us in all our efforts. We would go to any lengths to make her laugh - I guess things haven't changed much.

So how are we doing?  Ok, I'd say.  We have our moments, hours or days.  I have come to call this place "functionally numb".  We all still miss her dearly - and I suspect we will forever.  But we also know that it's not over, and that hope is the thing which carries us.  There was a story in a booklet someone gave us that said grief was like a great big boulder that you can never carry.  And so, you break it off one piece at a time until all you have left is a pebble.  You then pick that up and put it in your pocket, for that you will carry forever.  Yeah, I can see that.  I'd say that's what we're doing.

One of my "outlets" has been to make something that we can take back to the hospital.  I came across a picture of "heart wands" in a craft book and decided to make them to bring to the Cardiac ICU.  About 20 women from our church joined me 2 weeks ago and we ended up making 45 of them to take.  They came out beautiful and it was such a lovely night crafting with all the church gals.  Hopefully they will be a blessing.  I thought they'd make lovely "graduation presents" when a little girl moves from the ICU onto the floor.

Sam and Anna are slowly beginning to "get it" - I believe as well as a 5 and 7 year old can.  They were quite upset about Maddie's birthday - but only for the fact that they didn't want her to be 4, they wanted her 3 when they join her in heaven.  (Then they also made it very clear that they didn't want to be older either - they wanted to be 5 and 7 so that they can all play together!  Try explaining that one!!)  I also found out Sam was a little fuzzy in his understanding of other things.  I was taking him to the store a few days ago to get a friend a birthday present.  He decided to bring his money too because he wanted a spy watch.  While we were driving he asked, "Mom, can we bring things to heaven with us?"  I said, "Well, no Honey, your "stuff" stays here."  To which he began to get visibly upset.  It was then that I found out he had been saving his money (like, forever!) because he wanted to get Maddie a really really nice present that he could take to her.  It was a beautiful picture of his heart right then - I hope that I explained it well enough that I didn't crush his spirit in the process.

May we just once again say thank you to everyone.  Thank you for making both blood drives and toy drives so successful.  Thank you for trying to support us in so many ways.  Thank you for all of your cards, notes, donations, prayers and kindness.  Thank you just doesn't seem like enough, but hopefully you'll be able to see a bit of the depth of our gratitude.  We love you all.

Blood Drive / Toy Drive Pictures

Nothing says Maddie, like a six foot giraffe.  Cindy wanted the 30-footer, but the crane couldn't reach our backyard.

April 22, 2008
Well we had really hoped to take the family back to Kentucky for a visit, and then on to Disney World, but a few things happened on the way to those plans, including a job for yours truly.  Praise God some work appeared or I would be unemployed at the moment.  We told Anna and Sam that our little vacation would need to be postponed, maybe until fall, but once again God seems to have provided a way.  I've been on travel for the past two weeks, and have two more ahead.  We continue to work through the loss of our baby girl, and I'd say we are probably progressing along the normal road, but for me, being separated from the other three is something I really struggle with.  So . . . when I found out I was going to be in Virginia for a couple of weeks, we decided that we should all go.  And . . . as long as we were all in Virginia, we may as well drive down to Florida and pay the mouse a visit!  Yes, it looks like we are going to make good on that promise to Anna & Sam after all.

Since the day we found out that the Make-a-Wish foundation was granting Maddie's wish to take us all to Disney World, we promised Anna & Sam that we were definitely going.  "Maddie's almost home, just a little bit longer," we would tell them over & over.  They used to talk about it all the time.  When we broke the news to them in January, you might expect them to at least mention it, or ask if we were still going.  They never did.  Now, they (we) are all excited about it again.  There will probably be some tough times, like every time we see Winnie the Pooh or a little four-year old blondy running around, but I know mostly it will be a once-in-a-lifetime trip.  Between all of the efforts to fund our vacation, you put over $10,000.00 in the fund, so this one is on you (and now you know why it will be a once-in-a-lifetime!)  From the bottoms of our hearts, thank you Becky, Diane, Damaris, our families, friends and everyone who continues to remember Madeline the way we do -- lots of tears, lots of smiles and amazement at the magnitude of her life.  - so many seeds planted!

"I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds."
John 12:24-26