It's in the eyes....

I spent six hours scanning pictures today, and I still haven't even made a dent.  I started out today on a journey that ended up in a different place than I expected.  I thought I would be concentrating mainly on thoughts of Courtney and Darren since they were the real "victims" of what the evil one had done.  He always treated his "own" children very well and they glowed because of it.  Especially Maddie.  She was adored... as every single little girl on this earth should be.

As I sat scanning photo after photo, Maddie would come in and out of the room.  She's so inquisitive and it can sometimes drive me crazy.  Today she would gaze at the photos and ask things like, "Mommy, which one of your babies was the cutest?"  Of course I said that each baby was gorgeous in their own way.  "Well, which one of your kids was the happiest baby?"  Actually, I think that might be Darren.  "Which one of your babies had the fuzziest head?"  All my little raven-haired beauties had lots of hair when they were babies, but I think the fuzziest might be Amelia.

As I continued looking and scanning, I always smiled when it came to pictures of Maddie when she was little.  Hands down, I think she had to be my happiest preschooler.  And I have no doubt that comes from the fact that she felt so loved and so accepted.  Boy was she happy.  If you look at pictures of her, she beamed from the inside out!  She was such a pretty little girl and she was simply joyous.  Is that a word?  I just checked, it is.  She was happy, giggly, and I could never get a picture of her with a clean face because she was just a happy-go-lucky kid that was so confident that she could care less if she just ate a sucker or a piece of barbeque and had sauce all over her face.  She didn't care!  Life was great!

I found my own soul becoming joyful as I went through her pictures.  I thought, there might actually be something to this picture idea!  Maybe I can let some things go.  But as I moved through the photos chronologically, I came to her kindergarten graduation pictures and then it hit me like a ton of bricks.  That grief that I'd been stuffing and trying to make all fluffy with happy pictures.  The wave came over me.

I had forgotten, completely forgotten how grief-stricken little Madelaine was when her daddy left.  As he ran down the stair in his boxer shorts toward the front door, she stood at the top of the stairs crying and screaming "Daddy!  Don't leave me!"  But he did.  He left her.  He betrayed us all, including her.  Gone forever for a heinous crime.  This beautiful little golden girl, so joyful and full of giggles and delight was now silenced.

It was half-way through her kindergarten year and her grades, which had been perfect, bottomed out.  Her teacher called with concern because "happy little Maddie" was now quiet and only stared at the floor.  She no longer had quite the same sparkle in her eyes because her heart had been broken.  In the very moment that he ran down the stairs, he changed who she was.  I watched as my buoyant little girl sank.

I had forgotten about that.  Had forgotten that she had been unable to even say the words "dad" or "daddy", substituting instead with "that man."  How long did she do that?  Six months?  A year?  Maybe even two.  A long time, that I do know.

When I looked through her photos, she radiates joy.  When I look at her kindergarten graduation picture?  She's kind of far away and it's not great quality, but if you look at it with knowing eyes, you can see it there.  The grief.  The change.  You can see that her head is down, she is timid and sad, looking at the floor.  She tried so hard to be pretty and go through the motions.  I remember her picking out her pink dress and little hat to match it.  Such a little lady.  But it's the eyes.  If you look at her birthday pictures.... year 3, 4 and then five.  There it is.  That slight change in the eyes.  The sadness.  Not quite the same sparkle.

Seeing this today was the first bit of anger I had toward him all day through this process.  It was the first time  tear came to my eye, and I don't know if it was from anger toward him or from sadness for her.  I'm sure it was both.  I don't know if she's ever been the same again.

Driving home tonight in the quiet car, my thoughts toward him were not quite as acrid as they normally are.  They were more pitiful and sad.  I thought, Shame on you.  You were so protective of "YOUR" children.  When asked if you had hurt Maddie too, you looked at me in horror and said, "OF COURSE NOT!  SHE'S MY CHILD!"  But you did hurt your child.  You not only stole her birth-right of having a father who loves her and is there to raise her and protect her, but you changed the very person that she was supposed to be.  Shame on you for the damage that you have inflicted upon the people who were called your family.  People who were entrusted to you.  Don't worry, I have taken care of my own.  I may not have done perfectly, but I did the best that I knew how and I didn't need you then and I don't need you now.  SHE doesn't need you now.  I loved her back to life like only a mother knows how.  I did that for ALL of MY children.  The damage you inflicted ended that night for all of us.  You may be on the prowl again soon devil, but never again will you hurt one of my children. 

This is going to be a long journey.

This is how I remember her the most.
Silly little princess always playing dress-up,
laughing and giggling with a sucker in her mouth.

Now, here's her kg graduation pics....

 Can you see it?

Won't even make eye contact with the camera.

Here's her 5th birthday....

By this time, she was trying to be happy again.
But something was still different.
It's in the eyes.

God bless her.
I love you Maddie.
You are beautiful,
you are loved.
You are perfect,
and I am so blessed 
every single day to have you.
I am sorry that you had to ever
feel sadness and loss.
I would have protected you
if I'd known how.

lurve you, xoxo v.


Barbara said…
So true...her eyes sparkle! I never connected her change with that one.....but it makes perfect sense, she was a "daddy's girl" all the way. It hurts my heart that he did such damage to our babies the way he did - and he hurt all of them in one way or another. I pray for them (and you) everyday for a joyful life and will add "easy, happier memories" to that list

Love you lots, Mom
Dory Babe =] said…
this made me cry :( You are so right, it affected her a lot. What a beauty. I think of all of your beautiful children V, they are amazing, each in their own way! God has never left them or you, and I realize you have had more than your fair share of grief over the years. I'm always praying for you, you're such a strong person. I'm so proud of you for having such a positive attitude and allowing whatever you feel just be, and move forward. *hugs*