Yesterday I wrote a blog post on the fragility of our human lives, the time limits on all of us that we simply cannot see. I know that I wrote it yesterday, yet I had no idea I was actually writing about one of the most beautiful souls I have ever known. I was yet to realize a wonderful friend and kind heart had just been lost.
This is for Madeline Elliott.
Though I knew her through classes and crossed paths throughout the years, even I could tell that Maddie was truly one of a kind. She was the kind of girl who could bring a smile to anyone’s face with one of the most infectious laughs I have ever heard. Every time I talked to her, whether it was about something important or simply trivial, we always ended up talking for so much longer than we had planned because she was just that kind of person—she could connect with anyone.
From the moment I met her I knew one thing: this girl is going to touch so many lives. And she has. Because it isn’t about how long you live, but truly how you live. She did it beautifully. From someone who keeps their phone password as her birthday and the best friends whose lives were changed with her in it, to the strangers she passed on the street with a simple smile to lighten their day and the people who knew her, adored her, and she didn’t even know… This girl was incredible. Her presence was a light in so many peoples lives, including mine, and when I said in my post yesterday to tell people you love them, I meant it. Because things like this happen, we lose people, and loved ones are gone before they had a chance to make this life their own. But I know that Maddie did, she lived a beautiful life of faith, impacting so many people with who she was. Her loss is a great one, her love was infectious, and her memory will last forever in each one of us.
I wrote this for you Maddie.
I live for the strangers who smile at me as they pass by and those who always remind me that they care.
I live for the “have a good night”‘s from the elderly because they’ve seen enough of bad ones, they know life can be unfair.
I live for the people who know how to laugh, straight from the belly with their heads tipped back in abandon.
And I live for the people who have changed my life, and they never even knew how many pieces of me came from them.
There’s something about free spirits, the ones who’s hearts beat and it feels like the world is beating along;
Every breath they take, the wind blows a little longer. Every connection they make, their life grows a little stronger.
There is warmth in their smile, their hope, their being— that irreplaceable kind of energy that makes the world keep moving
and time keep changing, as the world around us moves, these are the kind of people who help us to get up and move along too.
But sometimes we have to slow down, we lose something big, someone important, and we forget about the moving,
the loving, the changing, the hoping… We might forget about the living to mourn those who can no longer do so.
So what do you do when the one who embodied the idea of life with their own, with their living and loving and hoping;
The idea of making every breath one of beauty, of light, of changing the world by just being part of it.
What do you do when they’re gone?
You stop, take a moment, maybe two— take as many as you need— and you hold on to the blessing it is to know someone like that.
Take a breath, take a few, and remember what it means to tell someone those three little words, “I love you.”
Remember their heart that beat for the world to beat with them, remember the smiles they offered, the hope that they held.
Remember the moments they changed your life, the laughs they abandoned themselves to, the memories they made.
You hold on to the love they left behind for you.
And you spread that love, that hope, that faith; you spread it until there is no place in this world left untouched.
Make the laughter they held the healing you feel as time goes on and the wounds of loss begin to close.
Say what you mean, those three little words, as many times as it takes for someone else to hear your voice.
And be there, in this world, be present in the lives of those you love. Because we never know how much time any of us have
to leave something good behind while we can.
My prayers go out to her family and her friends, to all those who knew Maddie, for my heart is with you. If anyone would like to support them in this time, here is the link to the gofundme page for Madeline.
In the words of Helen Keller,