Sunday, 19 November 2017

The Real Legacy of Maddie Coulter

The Things I Miss Most About Maddie

I've not written about Maddie in more than six months.  I get emotional while writing about something that is so near and dear to my heart.  I often ask if I'm writing for myself or for others?   Does reliving the pain help me to deal with my grief?  I realize that not writing about Maddie makes me lose the vividness and clarity that will always be my daughter and one of my three children.

Much of my writing about Maddie stems from our experiences that started about six months before her passing.  In my writing I've talked about: strategies that parents can hopefully learn from our loss; how it's affected our family and friends; sharing the awareness that has come from our loss; and some of my innermost thoughts, feelings and emotions that largely I'm asked about by people that have reached out because of my writing or shared experiences.

Much of the messaging over the course of the last two and a half years has been centred around awareness and prevention.  Not enough has been focused upon the life lived for the lion's share of Maddie's almost fifteen years.   The real legacy of Maddie Coulter should be focused upon the tremendous person she was and not the kid who ended her life so suddenly with so much promise.  Those fading details are the things that I want to cherish and honour my daughter's memory with.  For all the good that has been achieved in Maddie's loss, it would be lost upon us if we didn't acknowledge the life that she lived, the person that she was and the lives that she touched along the way.

These are the things I miss most about Maddie.

  • I miss the huge collection of girls shoes and boots at the front door that makes opening the door a challenge at times.  
  • I miss the constant requests for Maddie to clean her room and my pleas being ignored for the most part.  On that occasion that Maddie would clean her room, she would come to me all proudly and ask me to look at her clean room, even though I knew she shoved most of the clutter in her closet, drawers or under her bed.
  • I miss those special requests of items to be added to our grocery list like quinoa, kale, special shampoos, conditioners and special bubble bath salts
  • I miss the shouts from her bedroom after she posted something on Instagram to "Like my picture"
  • I miss her singing Adele at the top of her lungs in the shower
  • I miss the goofy SnapChat photos that she would want me to pose for while driving in the car or the selfies she would take constantly
  • I miss all the comments about my wardrobe she would make and that we were not living in the 1980's or the comments about how I got it all wrong when buying her a birthday or Christmas presents and should stick to giving her gift cards
  • I miss her sitting with me while combing online dating site profiles and her giving me the thumbs up or thumbs down (by the way very few got her approval)
  • I miss her and I watching classic movies together that she would let me select (her favourite was Stand By Me). 
  • I miss our trips to go eat at Freshii or the Sushi Shoppe
  • I miss her sensitivity and empathy when she knew I'd had a tough week, giving me a big hug, seeing how I was doing and saying, "I love you, Daddy"
  • I miss that ruckus laugh and bold outrageous character that she often had and didn't care who she was around when she had it that could shake a house and light up a room when she was in it
  • I miss her bossing Zac around and Zac being only too happy to conform to her wishes
  • I love the way she automatically held the shotgun position in the car and the boys didn't even dispute the issue.  She would allow Zac to be in the front seat of the car only on Wednesday mornings 
  • I miss her absolute love of music and her ability to recite every lyric from every song and her unabashed way of singing at the top of her lungs
  • I loved the way she started a One Direction fan club on Twitter well before they became popular and had over 1,500 followers within a couple of weeks
  • I miss her intensity, focus and the way she would motivate herself before every swim meet or race.
  • I miss how non-conforming and individualistic she was.  She only did the things that she wanted to do.  She was one of the first kids to go to Camp Wapamao but left because too many of her friends started going and there was too much drama about who would be in her cabin
  • I miss all the videos she would create within PhotoBooth that would mysteriously appear on my computer or iPhone.
  • I miss E-Mad.  Madeline and her cousin Emma who would perform comedy skits and entertain everyone after dinner each night at the cottage.  They would include Zac and Sawyer in the production but make no mistake, it was all about Emma and Madeline
  • I miss how Maddie and Emma could absolutely make my mom lose her mind in frustration with their antics
  • I missed all three kids sleeping the same bed on Christmas Eve and waking up at 4am and try to negotiate with me to get up and start unwrapping presents.
Admittedly, some of the details and vividness are starting to fade.  I never want this to happen but unfortunately it is happening.  We can capture things with pictures and videos but the very essence of Madeline's personality needs to be constantly refreshed in my memory banks.  The place she holds in my heart will always exist but those individual stories, the personality who was Maddie needs to be replenished.

The Maddie Project is a wonderful initiative and continues to address some fundamental challenges within our society as it relates to youth and adolescent mental illness.  Let's not forget the young girl that made this initiative so important, so necessary and so relevant.

If you have a particularly special memory or story of Maddie, I would love for you to share it with me.  You can either leave it in the comments section or email me privately to  If you could put "A Personal Maddie Story" in the subject header and if you'd like to share it publicly or keep it private.

Let's continue to keep the spirit of Maddie Coulter alive.  Thank you!