“It is not length of life, but depth of life”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Since February 9th, 2009, my family and I have had a constant day-to-day struggle understanding the meaning of the human condition. Questions of why, how, and for what cross our minds recurrently as we deal with the passing of our 25-year old beam of light, Madeleine Beverly Bahar, whose qualities of genuineness, caring, and generosity left a permanent mark on all of the lives she touched on her all-too-short stint on earth. When you lose a loved one, in my case an older sister, there is no specific amount of time that exonerates you from the feelings of grief and sadness you experience daily, no answer for the infinite number of questions surrounding her passing, and no expressions of condolences that can bring your sister back to life. Maddie’s time has passed and, while we know we will see her once again, it unfortunately will not be here on earth. She rests in a better place now and, as hard as it is to cope with her passing from our perspective, we take faith knowing she no longer has to suffer.
Maddie’s legacy is one that is strong and one that transcends time. Her imprint on our world remains through the profound memories she shared with friends and family, the charitable efforts she displayed to those less fortunate over the years, and the resilience and optimism she exhibited in the most trying of times. She displayed her selflessness, grace and character during both her best of times and her worst of times, through sickness and in health. She will always be remembered as somebody who put the well-being of others first, something not only seen through her work with Greater DC Cares and Loaves and Fishes, but also with her daily treatment of others. Regardless of her situation, she never wanted somebody else to have a bad day. Others always came first in Maddie’s world.
Since her passing, my family and I have taken part in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night walk. Every year communities throughout the United States and Canada, through teams of families, friends, and co-workers, come together to raise money to bring hope to people battling blood cancers as part of a 5k walk. In 2009, our family formed Maddie’s Team and has since raised over $60,000 to support those battling blood cancers nationwide. The Light the Night walk is a terrific event to honor of Maddie, as it brings people together in an incredibly positive atmosphere and raises a substantial amount of money to help others. The event symbolizes the altruistic manner through which Maddie lived her life and serves as a way for our family to carry on her beautiful legacy. Information regarding our team’s fundraising efforts and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society can be found at: http://pages.lightthenight.org/nca/Montcomd12/MaddiesTeam.
One difficult thing I do occasionally is read through Maddie’s blog that she started when she entered the hospital in June 2008. It is hard not to get emotional reading it as it brings up so many memories, both good and bad, about my late sister. One consistent thing she conveys throughout her struggle is a beaming sense of optimism and grace through adversity. I encourage you to check out her blog at http://maddiebahar.blogspot.com/ to get an idea about the type of person Maddie was. It has not been updated and, likely, rarely visited by others since her passing, but it serves as an available means through which somebody can realize the type of person Maddie was without ever having met her. I hope her words can encourage all of us to dedicate or rededicate our lives to improving other people’s quality of life while we all are fortunate enough to do so.