What had been one of the greatest nights of Madonna Badger’s life quickly turned into the worst.
Madonna’s parents had come over on Christmas Eve 2011 to celebrate the holiday with her and her three young daughters, Lily, Sarah, and Grace.
“My life was fantastic,” Madonna said later. “It was beyond my wildest dreams, and we had the most amazing night together.”
Her mother, Pauline, had brought over homemade pies and bread for the family to enjoy. Her father, Lomer, who had been the director of safety and security for Brown-Forman and, since his retirement, dressed up to play Santa in stores at Christmastime, was enjoying the time he got to spend playing with his granddaughters.
The family went to bed that evening dreaming of Christmas; but in the middle of the night, those dreams turned into a nightmare.
Madonna woke up to smoke filling her lungs. It didn’t take her long to realize her whole house was on fire.
She desperately tried to get to her girls, but the flames and ember-ridden timber pushed her back.
As firefighters led her away from the house she screamed, “My whole life is in that house!”
Tragically, Madonna’s parents and all three of her daughters perished in the blaze.
In the wake of the fire, Madonna felt as though her whole life was shattered. She wished many times that her life had been taken in that fire as well. She felt like she was going insane – the grief was too much to bear.
Then one day as Madonna was cleaning her bathroom, she began to weep. Her grief was so intense that her sobs were physically painful.
She happened to catch a glimpse of herself in the mirror as she wept, and that’s when she saw something else. At first, she thought she must be going crazy, but now she swears what she saw was real, and it has given her hope to move on.
As she looked in the mirror, Madonna saw Sarah, Lily, and Grace, as real as if they were standing right there. Sarah told her mom not to be afraid – there wasn’t anything to be afraid of. She also told Madonna that love was the most important thing in the world and that dreams are more real than this life.
While Madonna first thought she had gone insane, she now believes her daughters were really there. Their words of comfort and hope gave her the strength she needed to carry on.
While nothing can ever take away the pain of losing her family, Madonna has found hope and peace in the midst of tragedy and she is using her story to help others find hope and peace in their struggles too.
We can’t imagine the heartbreak and devastation Madonna has been through these past few years, but we applaud the heroic way she has used her pain to help others overcome theirs.
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