On the Christmas Eve of 2011, Madonna Badger’s parents went over to her house to celebrate the Christmas 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.” Madonna’s mom, Pauline, had brought over some freshly baked pies and bread for the family. Her dad, Lomer, who had been the director of safety and security for Brown-Forman and, since his retirement, dressed up to play Santa in stores during Christmas periods, was enjoying hanging out with his granddaughters.
The family went to bed that evening looking forward to Christmas; but in the middle of the night, the unexpected happened. Madonna was woken up to smoke filling her lungs before she realized that her whole house was on fire. The mom of three desperately tried to get to her daughters, but the flames and ember-ridden timber pushed her back and firefighters got her away from the house.
Unfortunately, both of Madonna’s parents and all three of her daughters died in the tragic event. In the wake of the fire, Madonna felt as though her whole life was shattered. She severally wished that her life had been taken in that fire as well, the grief was too much to bear.
One day as Madonna was cleaning her bathroom, she broke down into tears. Her grief was so immense 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 was going insane, but now she swears what she saw was real, and it has given her hope to move on.
In the mirror, Madonna saw her children, 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 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.