Fighting back tears and unimaginable grief, ad exec Madonna gave a moving eulogy to the hundreds who had gathered to mourn the loss of her three young daughters in a tragic Christmas fire.
Grief-stricken Madonna Badger bravely spoke for 20 minutes to the sobbing crowd who had gathered at Saint Thomas Church on Fifth Avenue on Dec. 5 for the funeral of her three girls — Lily, 9, and twins Sarah and Grace, 7. “They left the world at such tender ages that all they left behind was love,” Madonna said, according to the NY Post.
“This is going to be really hard,” she began. “Lily, Gracie and Sarah are not here with us today, and they won’t be here tomorrow… but my little girls are not gone from us entirely.”
“My girls are in my heart,” she said as she placed her hand on her chest. “They’re right here. This is where they live now.”
The mourners openly weeped during the moving words, and dozens of the Stamford firefighters — who had tried in vain to save the girls — couldn’t hold back their tears.
“I want you to remember my girls out loud, to fight for them never to be forgotten,” she said. “This is why I can stand before you today.”
The three caskets each bore a wreath of pink and white flowers. “Why did this happen to my parents and my children, and why now?” she asked. “Nothing will bring my babies back.”
Madonna recalled each girl’s personality and shared “the smallest drops in an ocean of memories” about her “little girl tribe.”
Lily, the oldest, was a dancer and singer. Sarah was “the little whippersnapper” with “a fragile heart,” and Gracie was the fearless child who “loved completely.”
Madonna also recalled how the girls had discussed death and dying. “Gracie asked me a thousand times if she was going to die before me, and I said, ‘No, Gracie, no that’s never going to happen,” the grieving mother said. “But that happened.”
The inconsolable father, Matthew Badger, was too emotional to speak at the service. Folk singer Rufus Wainwright sang an a capella rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and guests included Calvin Klein, Vera Wang and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
“At the funeral today, I saw something unbelievable,” Stamford Mayor Michael Pavia said. “I saw Madonna Badger stand up in her pew, walk to the pulpit and give a eulogy on her three daughters. And what she did — she actually gave everyone in the church a gift, an insight into each of her three little girls. And she did it with such dignity and such class.”