In the days after Madeline died, my Aunt Kathy and Uncle Bill made the drive from San Diego to Los Angeles to join us at our apartment. After they arrived they gave us quick hugs and then retreated into the bedroom – Maddie’s bedroom – with my mom. It was a sister comforting her sister. I was numb. I didn’t mind.
At some point my Uncle came to where I sat clutching Rigby on the couch, and asked me if I would come with him into Maddie’s room. I remember he called it Maddie’s Room, at a time when everyone else was avoiding calling it anything at all.
They sat me down in the green rocking chair I’d held Maddie in only days before. I felt a sense of dread. I didn’t want to talk. I didn’t want them to tell me they were sorry, or that they were hurting. I would have to comfort them, and I was tired of telling people, “it’s okay, it’s okay.” It wasn’t okay.
I pulled out a card with a line from The Little Prince: In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars will be laughing when you look at the sky at night..You, only you, will have stars that can laugh!
Inside my aunt had written, simply, “We love you.”
I looked up at my aunt and uncle and realized they were handing me a small box. Under its lid was a beautiful Amethyst on a delicate gold chain. My aunt fastened it around my neck.
It was slightly longer than my other necklace, but not so long that I couldn’t grab all of them in my desperation. I’d push the stone into my chest, hoping the pain on my skin would distract me from the pain in my heart. It didn’t.
That day, purple wasn’t just Maddie’s color – it became mine as well. I find that when I am feeling sad and overwhelmed, I unconsciously slip into purple clothing. People always notice when you’re wearing purple, even strangers. I save the Amethyst for the days I need extra strength. It’s been tucked away for a while, but soon it will be around my neck again.