As a young teenager Elijah met his girlfriend Madison Lokensgard, and we watched our son fall in love for the first time. She would be the only girl he ever loved. We knew his life would never be the same. What we didn’t know was how much Elijah’s life, and tragic death, would change Madison’s life forever.
Madison met Elijah before his concussions. But there were several years after his brain injury that Elijah avoided contact with people. He felt broken, and he stopped seeing Madison. Then this past summer they reignited their love for each other.
In Madison’s own words: “He just came back into my life, after months of silence and completely turned my world upside down. I remember how nervous I was to see him again, but as soon as our eyes locked and he smiled at me it felt like we’d never been apart. After that summer night we talked every day. We spent as much time as possible together before I had to leave for college in Arizona. What we had was true love. He was so encouraging, and just wanted me to be happy and successful. Elijah had me grinning from ear to ear every day.”
“Elijah’s life was so filled with Gods love and support. He had such a wonderful perspective on life. Where others saw barriers, he saw possibilities. He trusted in God with all his heart. Elijah’s faith was strong and passionate. He told me that once I found God, I would always be happy and protected. I have never been more thankful to have taken the time to find that relationship with God.”
“For years I had struggled with terrible depression. I thought I was doomed to suffer forever, but then Elijah came back into my life. He taught me how to be strong on the inside without depending on relationships to make me happy. Since then my life has never been the same. I remember him reiterating to me many times “Madison you are so strong and you cannot forget it”. Now I find myself playing those words in my head daily.”
“Elijah’s unique perspective on life has forever changed the way I look at problems. Because of him I smile more often, and cherish my family more. I finally feel proud of the woman I am becoming. Elijah and my growing relationship with God are what have gotten me to this point. It’s so bittersweet to have grown and learned so much from such a tragedy. I get emotional when I think of how far I have come in just a short year of my life. And my heart breaks when I am reminded that I cannot share my future with Elijah.”
“But he wouldn’t want me to stop reaching for the stars just because he is no longer here with me. He was always telling me how much he believed in me. So now I work hard to believe in myself the way he did. I strive to cherish the good in life. I will continue to strive for maximum happiness, and to love people more intensely. That is the way life should be lived. I hope Elijah knows how thankful I am for all the things he taught me. I want to live my life on purpose and share the things he taught me with anyone who is willing to listen.”
The love story of Elijah and Madison ended tragically with Elijah’s death. That story cannot be rewritten. But true love is not always about happy endings. We have the chance every single day of our lives to rewrite our own love stories. We can turn tragedy into triumph if we so choose. We can become a blessing to others. The happiest ending to a love story is when the other person is forever changed for the better.
And you know you have found true love when you find someone who spends their time and energy trying to make your life better. “There will always be certain people that just bring out the best version of you. For me, that person was, and will always be Elijah Buchanan.” (Madison, 2015)
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