I'm one of Maddy's big sisters. I will be posting more, but I first wanted to share the tribute I wrote and read at the gathering:
As the story goes, I was less than enthusiastic when I heard I was going to have a baby brother, and not a sister.
But when the man himself finally arrived, I declared ‘Madison, that’s a fine name’
…. and I would love to say we were best friends from that moment on, but that would be omitting some very sibling-y truths.
Maddy perfected the art of bothering me.
Not so much Shayna. Me.
As a baby he liked to bite me and pull my hair, and as he got older, he employed more devious tactics like purposefully and ceaselessly rolling onto my side of the bed on family vacations.
(People who know Maddy may recognise that his knack for and love of pushing peoples’ buttons didn’t wholly disappear post-childhood).
At some point though, around the time Maddy entered middle school or so, the bothering stopped, and our relationship changed to a deep kinship.
We began making each other laugh, talking about real things and thoroughly enjoying each others’ company, whether that be by me sneaking him in to see Pineapple Express without mom and dad knowing or getting the pleasure of riding shotgun while he backed into our mailbox on the first day he had his license.
As many of you know, Maddy achieved a truly extraordinary amount of success academically, professionally and personally. He was also constantly thinking critically about and taking action towards making the world a better place for everyone. Maddy developed into an incredibly admirable human being.
It follows that being adored by someone like this is an enormously meaningful gift.
He joined activities because I did, asked my advice on which clothes to buy, and had me help him navigate relationships in the most thoughtful, selfless and loving way.
I feel so indescribably privileged that the person who I admire more than anyone, looked up to me, too.
But then, I guess that’s what baby brothers do.
Eventually, Maddy and I began travelling together. In Israel and Switzerland and Morocco, it became clear that exploring and learning about the world was something that we wanted to do together forever.
Even if sometimes that exploring meant watching Rick and Morty in bed with snacks during our last night in Morocco, justifying to ourselves all the while that, “It’s fine to not experience once in a lifetime culture- we’re tired, and TV and snacks are, like, totally nourishing for the soul too”.
Some of you may not know that I currently live in Berlin.
Because of covid, I hadn’t seen my brother in person since April 2019.
A couple months ago, he told me about his new car, and he proposed a road trip down to Joshua Tree once more restrictions were lifted.
We both salivated thinking about how many podcasts we could cram in on a drive from Redmond down to this new favorite national park.
At some point near the beginning of Maddy’s illustrious and lucrative career, we began to joke about how much dollar baby brother was making compared to this wandering older sister.
Overtime, that joke beautifully and naturally transformed into a truly warming reality of knowing that we would stick together and support each other throughout life...
and if that meant him being the money and me being the comic relief, then so be it.
We never had a serious conversation about it, but we both knew and felt confident and comforted by the fact that we would be there, complementing and enriching each others’ lives, and having a meaningful, thoughtful and ceaselessly entertaining companionship forever.
As we grew older, our interests, values and senses of humour became more aligned and we began being open, communicative and deeply supportive of each other.
We had plans to live our lives together- learning, travelling, problem-solving and obviously, hiking.
We were a unit in that we were accomplishing and doing different things that the other valued- we knew it was okay that we ourselves weren’t doing some of the things we wanted to, because the other sibling had that covered.
We liked to brag to our friends about each other.
We began independently learning more about US history, fascism and how to combat it.
We carried each other through our emotions visiting the Holocaust museum in Israel and stood strong together against sexism and misogyny, in theory and practice.
Maddy was always fiercely adamant about me being myself, and enabling me to do so.
He would determinedly take up a responsibility I wasn’t capable of or comfortable with.
And after the rest of the family hung up, we occasionally just made faces at each other on Skype for a very very long time before actually greeting each other verbally.
I want to say the perfect tribute, but I know Maddy would say that anything or nothing is perfect, and he would demand that I do only as much or as little as I wanted to.
Anyway, there is no way I would be able to say all the things about, to, or for Maddy that I want and need to right now....
so I won’t. Instead I’ll continue to share anecdotes, wishes, heartbreaks, inspirations and tons of jokes on the forum, on the phone, and in person, with all of you, forever.