Just over 18 months ago, a little girl came into this world on a mission. Unbeknownst to her parents, God sent Madison Alexis to have a profound impact on everyone who met her. And that's just what she did.
Madison was born with Down's Syndrome. Shortly after birth, Madison endured heart surgery and a brave and speedy recovery. Her family, her friends, her parents' co-workers, townspeople, doctors, nurses, anyone who came in contact with Madison fell in love with her determination and tenacity.
I met Madison at work. Her mom, Karen, and I share a cubicle wall at work. Karen would bring Madison to work some Fridays and we all took turns visiting or holding her bottle. Later on, we would sit on the floor and read books or just chat. Although she never said a word, Madison made many days brighter on the 7th floor and served as a constant reminder that life is precious. We found tremendous joy, watching her grow and eventually learn sign language.
Just before Christmas 2004, at the age of 1, Madison had a stroke. Before doctors could determine the cause, she had another. For weeks, she laid in the hospital, entangled in tubes. She had surgery to remove part of her skull and the swelling in her brain receded. The prognosis was not good, however. Doctors were unsure that she would fully recover. They believed she would be paralyzed, perhaps blind and may have some hearing loss.
Back at work, we scrambled to find ways to support Karen, her family and most of all, our precious Madison. None of us were prepared to say good-bye to her just yet. And, apparently, Madison wasn't done yet either. Madison suddenly woke up and, days later, she went home. Against all odds, she recovered quickly. Soon she was back in the office, babbling and playing and bringing joy to everyone she visited. We presented her with a bouquet of hats to hide the scars from her surgeries. She was delighted. Madison was our little Christmas miracle.
For four months after the Christmas miracle, we enjoyed Madison's company and watching her recover at record speed. Once again, Madison did things her way and in her own time, amazing everyone in the process.
This beautiful child taught those around her how to embrace and support one another, to have faith and believe in the impossible (for all things are possible!) and to recognize what is important: Family, Faith and Others.
On April 21, 2005, her mom announced in an email that Madison had earned her wings. After another stroke, Madison died in her mother's arms, surrounded by family and friends.
The memory of who she was and what she did for all of us will go on forever.