To Maddie Whittsett’s Momma-
I read about Madison on AL.COM and while I was reading I selfishly found myself crying for myself. Your daughter’s story is my worst fear & it happened so close to home. I spent the better part of an hour crying after I read the article. That night I laid in bed and cried to my husband about Maddie. Later that night, as the clock ticked past 1am, I found myself still crying. That is why in the wee hours of the morning I started writing this letter to you.
I should step back a second and introduce myself. My name is Leah.You don’t know me but I can’t help but feel like I know you. I know the fight you put up in that IEP meeting to get that one on one aide for Maddie. I know you thought this aide would ensure she would have a successful school year. I know you also selfishly thought this aide would be a little bit of a buffer to keep the bullies at bay. I know all this because I fought that same fight. Like Maddie, my son has a one on one aide at school. I know the struggles that ADHD brought to your home. I know how tough disciplining Maddie was. I know that you repeated yourself day in and day out. I know that the ADHD diagnosis rocked your world. I know all this because ADHD is ever present in my home. Like Maddie, my son has an ADHD diagnosis. I know the internal struggle you had with yourself when the doctor recommended medication. You heard the side effects. You trusted the doctors. I know you were out of options and desperate. I know all this because I have dealt with that same internal struggle. Like Maddie, my son is also on ADHD medication. Like I said, I feel like I know you really well.
I’ve never been in the shoes you are in now. I don’t know what losing a child is like but I can imagine that you have played the “What If” scenarios in your head a thousand times. What if I wouldn’t have put her on medication. What if I wouldn’t have gotten the aide that so obviously made her a target to bullying. What if I would have fought for her harder. At least that is what I think I would be doing. Beating myself up over every decision I made. I want you to know that you were a good mom. You did everything right. You fought hard enough. You made the best decisions. You loved her enough. I know that you are still a good mom because you are screaming your daughter’s story from the rooftops to make sure that the issue of bullying is heard.
Ironically enough, my last blog post was about my new mantra, Stick With Kindness. In that post, I tried to talk about why this mantra was so important to me but reading it now, I feel like I tiptoed around my fear. Saying just enough without saying anything. What Maddie experienced, from the bullying to the thoughts in her head to the unfortunate outcome, are what I fear most for my son, Quin.
I’ve never met you but if I get the chance, I want to give you the biggest hug. I also vow to tackle the issue of bullying with you. You keep telling your story and I’ll keep yelling “Stick With Kindness” from the rooftops. For my son, Quin. For your daughter, Maddie.