The turnout for Maddy’s Gathering was beautiful, with friends and family spanning his earliest days as a baby through elementary, middle, high school, college and beyond. Teachers, mentors, gaming buddies, his coach, camping buddies, work friends, girlfriends, and friends from his community services group. I am so grateful that we were able to see Maddy again through the eyes of others. People shared their hearts and we shared ours. It was poignant, funny, crushing, and loving all at the same time. To everyone who came and to those who wanted to but could not make it, your caring and love and respect was immeasurably meaningful to us.
As a father, I love my children without reservation and think they are amazing and the best ever. And, without knowing it, I take that relationship just a little for granted; Maddy is just being Maddy. Of course he’s funny. Of course, he’s smart and challenges my thinking. Of course, he’s got an interesting new story to tell, a new adventure he’s planning. Of course, he’s passionate. Of course, he’s being thoughtful and exploring issues deeply. That’s Maddy, being himself.
But I now know that I did not fully appreciate the impact he had on others, the impact he had at work, the impact he was having on the world. Seeing him through others at the gathering made me realize that he shined brightly, not just for us, but with everyone he met. Thank you all for giving us that gift.
Below are some of the words I shared about Maddy at the gathering. I will add more of stories about him in the weeks and months ahead and I hope you will too.
I can only begin to tell you about what Maddy meant to me. But I’ll start with this: he was the best son I could ever imagine, I was incredibly proud of him, and I loved him beyond measure.
He was deeply curious and adventurous about so many things from his earliest years – and we explored many of them together:
- wrestling on the carpet as a kid, through wrestling in middle school and the varsity team at Fairview,
- dumpster diving as a 4 year old to get interesting junk to build a “rocket” in the garage with duct tape through becoming an engineer to help build real rockets
- exploring nature through family camping as a toddler to more than 15 backpacking trips together
- reading the Hobbit to him as a boy, to sharing sci-fi and fantasy books with each other as adults
But what was so special to me in recent years, is that he also brought new ideas, perspectives, and passions he was discovering to me. He expanded my knowledge and perspectives in unexpected ways and I developed a deep respect for Maddy’s commitment to understanding the world and his compassion for it.
Being with him was always interesting, full of laughter as we poked fun at each other, full of ideas about science or politics or history, and most of all, filled with love for each other. I am so grateful that in recent years, inspired by his grandpa Eddie, that we would end our calls with “I love you, Dad” and “I love you, too”