Madonna Badger suffered through the worst tragedy any mother could suffer. She lost her three precious little girls and her parents in a tragic house fire on Christmas Day. The story was so unbelievably gut-wrenching that it made headlines around the country. But two years after that horrific morning, Madonna is recovering. In fact, she is newly engaged!
Even if you don't read the news every day, you probably remember hearing something about Madonna's horrible fate. She and her boyfriend at the time, Mike Borcina, and Madonna's three beautiful little girls, 9-year-old Lily and 7-year-old twins Sarah and Grace, were spending the holiday together at Madonna's Victorian home in Connecticut. Also there were her parents. The place was in the middle of being renovated by Borcina, the contractor.
Early Christmas morning, Madonna awoke to the smell of smoke. The house was already in flames. Madonna was able to crawl out a window to safety, as was Borcina. But she was unable to rescue her children or parents, who perished.
I can't think of anything more unimaginably horrific.
Not surprisingly, Madonna went through a very difficult time with depression and thoughts of suicide. She twice stayed at psychiatric facilities and then a trauma therapy center. She says when she wasn't knocked out with drugs, she would be screaming, "Where are my children?! Where are my parents?!"
I simply don't know how someone recovers from something like this, but there are only two choices with this amount of emotional pain: Live or die. And there is no point in living so you can be in excruciating pain. So you must learn to find some sort of peace, somehow, somewhere.
Madonna says she found it in Little Rock, Arkansas -- she lived there with friends while trying to recover. There, she was able to get away from her high-powered life in New York and reminders of her home in Connecticut. She found a great therapist and started yoga classes and acupuncture.
She also took a job helping a friend who was an antiques dealer and says going through old stuff made her feel better. Looking at pictures of people long gone by helped her come to terms with the transitory nature of this life.
Madonna then went to Thailand to volunteer at an orphanage. Most of the young girls had also seen unimaginable tragedy -- one girl had lost her entire family; many girls had been sold into the sex trade by their fathers. Madonna gave out gifts that had belonged to her children. She writes in Vogue:
If these little girls were living their lives with joy and happiness, I realized -- and if they could give their love to me after all they had been through -- how could I possibly feel sorry for myself?
An old friend, Bill Duke, suddenly asked her out on a date. She said yes. More recently, he asked her to marry him. She said yes to that too. Madonna is also back working at her old job running her advertising company. She writes:
I'm also still a mom, and I'm still my parents' daughter. Just because they’re all gone doesn’t mean that any of that stops, and what better way to honor their lives than to not give up? I chose this life.
She deserves every happiness. Her daughters and parents would be proud.
Have you ever had to come to terms with horrible grief? How did you do it?
Image via Randy Son of Robert/Flickr