Meet Maddie. This is her story, as told by her mother, Carri.
Madison Daley Funk
September 26, 2005-October 23, 2007
October 23, 2007, the day our life became a blur, the day where our family was rocked to the core. It was late afternoon, I was at work. My husband and I worked for the same company in the same building. I remember the executive assistant came running out to find me, telling me there was an emergency and I had to go home. At first it didn’t really hit me how bad this was… We hopped in the car and my husband frantically drove us home. We lived a short 3 miles from our office but the drive felt like 3 days. The whole way home we prayed that everything was ok. The only thing we knew was that our daughter had been injured. We pulled onto the street where we lived; it was like a scene from movie police cars, fire trucks, ambulances—one of which was pulling off as we pulled up. I’ll never forget jumping out of our moving vehicle to chase that ambulance that was carrying my daughter. They stopped for me, but they wouldn’t let me in, they wouldn’t let me ride to the hospital with them. They left me. We go inside to find my babysitter (who is also a family member) and 4-year-old son hysterical. This next part of the story, I have to tell second hand as I was not present to witness these next few details.
I am told when she went to get Madison up from her nap, she found her underneath her dresser. She frantically removed the dresser from our daughter’s body; her face was blue but quickly regained normal color when the dresser was off of her. She thought there was hope. She immediately administered CPR while calling 911. What she experienced that day and what she saw has changed her life forever. We can only imagine that Madison was trying to get her juice cup sitting on top of her dresser.
As my husband and I go in the house, we realize the severity of the situation. The police question us on Madison, what WAS her age, what WAS her full name… I lost my cool. I didn’t know my daughter was dead at that point, so I asked what do you mean what WAS her name…her name IS Madison Daley Funk!
My husband and I are driven to the hospital in the back of a police car, like criminals. We are making phone calls along the way, calling people who we felt were closer to God than we were, people who God would listen to their prayers, please don’t let our daughter be dead. As we arrive at the hospital, we knew it was bad. The staff was positioned methodically along the corridor as we were escorted in to a tiny room just out side of the ER. When we got there, we already had a few close work friends who had arrived just prior to us, so we weren’t exactly alone. Almost immediately the emergency room doctor joined us, she knelt down next to my husband and me and very clearly said, “Mr. and Mrs. Funk, your daughter has died. We did everything we could for her. We are preparing her now for you to be able to see her. We will come and get you as soon as she is ready. “
A Blur. That’s how this felt. How could this be happening? Not to us, not to our family. We are good parents, good people…things like this don’t happen to good parents right? Wrong! I had only seen one other dead person in my entire life at this point, and now here I am holding my dead daughter. I didn’t want to let her go. She didn’t look hurt. You couldn’t even see any injury. She died from blunt force trauma/ asphyxia. She had died immediately we were told. No suffering we were told. We would suffer from that moment on.
I couldn’t believe how quickly my husband and I were separated and then questioned each by different detectives, while we were still in the emergency room. I guess time is of the essence. I know NOW that is standard protocol, but in the moment it felt terrible. While we were being questioned at the hospital, detectives were in our home. Imagine how my children felt listening to them lift the dresser and then tip it over, repeatedly … testing to see if the force of the dresser “could really kill a child”. Trying to determine how someone “couldn’t hear it fall” from downstairs. (Hey for the record, our daughter took the force of the dresser, which is why no one heard the fall- that is logical, common sense!) We were investigated intensely by Virginia Beach police along with Child Protective Services. What a process. I would not want their jobs and am super grateful for their service, non of that gratitude made this process any easier.
Once we arrived home that evening, I remember the hardest thing was telling my then eleven-year-old and four year old sons that their sister had died. She was in Heaven now. The coming months would be challenging as we helped them navigate their grief journey, all the while trying to navigate our own. Within the hour of our getting home, we got a phone call from LifeNet Health, asking for our daughter’s organs. We said YES. It never occurred to us to say anything different. If we could help save another life, we would. We are proud to say that Madison’s heart valves were placed with two different children! The miracle of organ donation is amazing and LifeNet Health has been a critical part of our healing.
Madison Daley Funk was two when she died a very preventable death. We could not sit back and do nothing. We knew if WE didn’t know about furniture tip over dangers, other people may not know about it either. We called a furniture strap manufacturer and she sells us straps at cost. We give them away every chance we get. We designed our website (www.maddiesmessage.com) as a place to read our story and learn about furniture safety. We love to do Random Acts of Kindness in her honor to help share our story outside of our circle of friends. I regularly say, “Please strap your furniture –Don’t wish you WOULD have”.
Founder, Maddie’s Message
Donor Mom/ Grief Companion
Furniture Tip Over Advocate