After Losing 3 Daughters, Mom Shares Her Biggest Lesson
byKaitlin StanfordOct 27, 2014
On Christmas Eve 2011, Madonna Badger's world was turned upside down forever.
The headlines were so tragic that you probably still remember them. They told the heartbreaking story of how an accidental fire was started in Badger's home and quickly swept through her Connecticut farmhouse while her family slept. So fast and devastating were the flames that before she knew it, they had taken the lives of all three of her young daughters, as well as her parents. Only Badger and her boyfriend at the time, Mike Borcina, escaped alive.
But in her survival, the devastated mom faced a long, hard road ahead, fighting off thoughts of suicide that would soon land her in the hospital. "The first time I smiled or the first time I laughed," she shared on the "Today Show" in 2012, "I felt so bad."
In the years and Christmases that have passed since, Badger has somehow found a way to find happiness and forgiveness, as well as love.
In a Vogue essay she wrote in December 2013, Badger shared for the first time how she escapes the deep sadness and depression that could easily return if she only let it.
"Basically, I go to wherever the light is," she wrote. "Because anything else is darkness, and it can be a deeply black darkness."
More recently, the ad agency exec, who married longtime friend Bill Duke this summer, shared with Oprah how she's managed to cope with their loss, and what she's learned since that terrible day in December.
"I wish I knew then what I know now," Badger tells Oprah in the latest episode of "Super Soul Sunday." "Like, when I was so worried about having them eat organic food all the time. Or when I was so worried about them getting into the 'right' school. Or when I thought that that deadline was so important at work and I stayed and worked late. Or the time I missed a recital that Grace did because I was traveling. I wish I knew how important ..."
"Being present [is]," Oprah finishes, as Badger struggles through tears.
"Yes," Badger says. "And that all that stuff—organic food—doesn't matter."
In another moment from the show, Badger says she struggles at times when she sees other girls hopping off the school bus, or calling to their moms in the park. Her own daughters—Lily, and twins Sarah and Grace—were just 9 and 7 when they died.
You can watch the full episode of Badger's interview on "Super Soul Sunday" below, which originally aired October 26.