Out of so many tragedies involving children come stories of unfathomable heroism and inspiration, and teen Madison Leigh Wallace's devastating drowning is no exception.
The 16-year-old's body was found Friday in an icy river in South Dakota's Falls Park, after she'd jumped in Thursday night to save her 6-year-old brother Garrett. Police think Garrett either slipped on rocks and fell in or was covered in the bubbling water's rising foam, which reached 10 feet high. The little boy lived because Madison -- and another man passing by who also leaped in to help -- saved him.
As wracked by grief and shock as Madison and Garrett's parents must be, they also are probably overcome with love -- and yes, pride -- that their daughter died doing something so noble for their son. Wouldn't you be?
What happened to Madison is one of every mom's (and dad's) darkest nightmares. The death of your own child is the worst loss any parent could ever experience. But losing one of your kids because she was saving her sibling's life? I can only imagine the array of emotions that mother must be feeling. Overwhelming sadness mixed with overwhelming gratitude. Love, emptiness, pride, shock, horror. Anger at the whole situation. And of course immeasurable pain over the death of her daughter tinged with joy over her son's survival.
Madison, the oldest of Jay and Lara Wallace's six kids, died when she was only a teenager with her whole life ahead of her. But Madison Wallace died a heroine, a brave sister who loved her baby brother so much that she gave her life for his. And the 28-year-old stranger, Lyle Eagletail, who jumped in to help both children and who was also swept away, died a hero too.
If Madison were my own daughter, my heart would be full of every emotion in the book right now. But through the terrible grief and loss, I would be so proud of my little girl for doing what she did for my son. I hope that one day, those poor parents will be able to focus on that pride and love, and feel inspired by and in awe of the selfless young woman their daughter Madison was growing into. Maybe that will carry them through this tragedy and the lonely times ahead to a place of peace. I can only pray that it does.
Do you have any words of comfort for Madison and Garrett's family?
Image via jacjac.dk/Flickr