Madonna Badger could look around her dinner table in Christmas Eve of 2011 and feel the freshly baked apple pie her mother had just baked elude to the sense of warmth she felt. The people she most cared about surrounded her – retired parents, including a father whose latest past time was to be an in-store Santa Clause, and her boyfriend. But above all, the most important pieces to any one of her holidays could be found in those skipping around and decorating the table – her daughters. Lily, ten, and her seven-year-old twins, Sarah and Grace were thrilled of the prospect of presents in their small town of Stamford, Connecticut. Michael Borcina, Badger’s boyfriend, went to clean out the Victorian home’s fireplace, while everyone else was tucked into bed. When the lights were turned out and the wood burning ashes tossed out the door, everyone fell asleep. What Badger awoke to was a far cry from the typical rising to dawn and an exchange of gifts. Instead fire blazed through her bedroom and the smoke chocked her.
Badger escaped through her bedroom’s front window and climbed towards her daughters’ room. When she was in front of the blazing door, the smoke tinting her teeth and mouth black, she stepped forward. Fire shot back and no matter how much she willed herself through the scorching heat, she could not save her children. By the time the firefighters pulled Badger and Borcina out, the building’s frame was a hollow replication of a doll’s house. That Christmas morning Badger’s parents and three daughters died in the fire. 24 hours later the house was demolished. With her primary family members and home gone, Badger would stumble in the following year from one mental institution to another.
Weeks before this year’s Christmas, Badger is starting to shed away the days of crying. Throughout this year’s hop scotching from one state to another her band of friends have expanded. From a roof over her head to mere affection, this bond of humanity has established a profound foundation in her life. Not only has it expanded forever expanded what ‘family’ means for Badger, but also to me. It shows that support and unconditional love go beyond blood. It shows that even those who attempt suicide and explore the facilities of three mental institutions can be loved by those not traditionally deemed to be her family. Keeping in mind the recent occurrences across the world, it is reassuring to know that acceptance and affection can still coexist in this world.
This Christmas, Badger is heading over to Thailand where Santa Clause does not exist. She will be packing the toys that were salvaged and give them to an orphanage. In that orphanage that Badger will be visiting, the children are all girls who have also lost their families. Among the tragedy and sorrow, Badger has managed to plan one personal gift to herself – riding elephants. This not only will bring her happiness, but within that moment of scarce joy she hopes to feel closer to her daughters.
Prompt: In a monologue from a deceased family member, describe the message in no more than 500 words what they would share with you.
* In memory of his daughters, Madonna Badger’s ex-husband, Matthew Badger, has set up a foundation to commemorate his daughters. In this foundation, all money donated goes towards celebrating and helping teachers who use creativity in their methods of teaching. If you wish to donate, please visit the main website for the Lily Sarah Grace Fund.