Monday, February 09, 2009

Caren Explains Maddie

I want to write about my friend, Maddie Bahar, who left us too soon. I take solace in knowing that the Lord has great plans for her -- plans that none of us can understand in this life.

When I think of my own faith story, it is impossible not to think of Maddie. We shared in the type of fellowship that makes Christ's love very real. She cared deeply for her friends and family. She loved her parents and siblings very much. After seeing the great relationship she formed with my own sister, Meghan, she inspired me to be a better sister myself.

Maddie and I went to Sunday School together throughout middle school and high school. We continued our friendship and fellowship through college and beyond. Maddie had a wonderful, quirky, pop-centric sense of humor. Inside jokes with Maddie could last weeks, months or years. For example, there is a scene in the movie "Blast from the Past" in which Brendan Frazier is dancing in slow motion. Maddie did a great imitation of it and would do so without being prompted, just to make me laugh (see minute 1:35 of this video)...

It was so easy to have fun with Maddie that we could occupy hours of time doing little at all. We were once successful in finding the real Michael Cera on Facebook, but he could not be "Friended" or "Poked." Maddie made a screenshot to document the effort.

But what I will miss most about Maddie is her kind heart. She never asked for anything, but was always quick to help others. We went on a few mission trips together, and I got to observe Maddie at her best -- befriending strangers, especially ones who needed someone to talk to or to laugh with or just to care about them. We spent time at Surf City camp in Michigan as volunteers, and I remember that she struck up a friendship with a high school camper from Pennsylvania. They remained pen pals for years after the trip. Maddie genuinely cared about people, no matter how long she had known them.

(a picture from Surf City with our friend, Sam)

I always looked forward to seeing Maddie when we had college breaks, or when the holidays came around. I would get so excited if she was at church when I was. It really made St. Francis feel like home to me when I could see a familiar and friendly face like hers.

When she and I were both studying abroad in Europe, we planned a great adventure to see Robbie Williams. No one in America (except Maddie, me and maybe some displaced Brits) appreciates Robbie Williams, so he doesn't tour there. When he announced a European tour, it sold out very quickly, but Maddie and I found a ticket package for the show in Milan. She came to visit me in London, then we trekked to Milan to see Robbie. We didn't know how to get to the concert venue, but followed the massive crowds in hopes that they were going there, too. It was an amazing show...

(the finale)

After the concert, we took the train to Rome, where Maddie was studying. It was fascinating to see all the ruins and museums, especially since Maddie knew the city so well. She took me to a small church in the heart of Rome, one that housed some famous paintings from her favorite era of art history. She talked so passionately about the art! It was inspiring.

Maddie was strong throughout her battle with plasma cell leukemia, and documented it on her blog. She did not complain about or question what was happening to her. The blog read very much like having a conversation with Maddie -- full of jokes, happiness and gratefulness for her family.

The world is a sadder place without Maddie here, but I am glad she is now at peace and not in any pain. God bless you, Maddie, until we meet again.

(from our mission trip to North Dakota)

I lift up my eyes to the hills- Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip -
He who watches over you will not slumber;
Indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD watches over you
The LORD is your shade at your right hand;
The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all harm -
He will watch over your life;
The LORD will watch over your coming and going
Both now and forevermore.
Psalm 121

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