A Tribute to Love and Loss The Madison Rose Memorial Library

Partner Voices | 
Sponsored by Jenny and Don Rose

By Dennis Taylor

Jenny and Don Rose were lost in a mourning fog when they first came through the door of the Papillon Center for Loss and Transition in the summer of 2015, searching for clarity, comfort, pain relief, and so many other things that are elusive — perhaps even unattainable — when the wounds are that deep.

Days earlier their 25-year-old daughter, Madison, had been killed in an automobile accident while driving north from Los Angeles, toward the Bay Area. Her parents believe “Maddie” might have been staring at her cell phone when her car slammed into the back of a truck that had rolled to a stop in the freeway traffic. That theory is based, in part, on the fact that they just ended a conversation with her as they drove south toward their Carmel home from Lake Tahoe.

“We hung up from this beautiful, wonderful conversation with our daughter, looked at each other, and said, ‘You know, that’s a good kid … we raised a good one,’” Don remembers. “That was at 10 o’clock in the morning. We didn’t get the news until 7 o’clock that night, but we’re pretty sure Maddie was dead a few minutes after we hung up.”

Madison, the youngest of four children in the Rose family, was an affectionate kid, close to her parents and siblings, fearless and independent. Her natural talent was as a fashion advisor — people paid her good money to teach them how to dress, show them how their garments fit with other clothing in their closets.

As an adult, she grew especially close to her mom.

“She got to a point where she called me every day, and sometimes she’d say, ‘Mom, I just want you to listen…’” Jenny said.

Don laughed at the memory: “Yeah. I’d pick up the phone and she’d say, ‘Hi, Dad … can I talk to Mom?’ And I’d say, ‘Uh, hello? What about me?’”

What the Roses found at the Papillon Center after their daughter died was a sanctuary, a space for healing, and a hospice, of sorts — a place where grief goes to heal. 

‘The people here are angels,” Jenny says of the compassionate, multi-faceted facilitators that cumulatively holds degrees or certification in nursing, social work, neonatal intensive care, palliative care, marriage and family therapy, and other specialized skills.  The  facilitators lead the drop in groups for adults who need a safe and welcoming place to grieve, connect with others who have lost a loved one or pet, and heal.  

What they also found at Papillon’s original Munras Avenue location in Monterey was a rack displaying a small collection of books dedicated to grieving. The library.

 “And I remember thinking to myself, ‘uh … this isn’t a library,’” Don recalls.

When Papillon Center relocated to its current, much-larger space at 70 Garden Court in Monterey, the Roses stepped up to fill a need, creating The Madison Rose Memorial Library, and expanding the book collection (which is still growing) to 318 titles for children, teens, and adults. Topics include grief (general), grief (sudden death), loss of a child, loss of a parent, loss of a pet, miscarriage and loss of an infant, suicide, widow and widower, children, young adult, adult fiction, meditation, poetry and prayer, rituals and customs, and manuals and workbooks.

Two of the children’s books, “When the Day Ends … Dream’s Begin” and “When the Day Ends … Dreams Begin 2” were co-authored by Don Rose and his son-and-law, Javier Lopez, and are colorfully illustrated by Rayanne Vieira.

Copies of all books at Papillon may be checked out and some are available for purchase.

The wide variety of topics is important, the Roses believe, because dealing with grief is a personal process, and nobody grieves the same.

Jenny Rose says she took comfort in the messages she found in children’s books after losing Maddie, in part because she was unable to concentrate for any length of time on more-elaborate adult readings.

“The children’s books were pretty cut and dried — very simple — and that’s what I needed at that time,” she said.

In addition to the books, the Roses have stocked the library and bookstore with poignant cards and mementos, including memorial medallions, bracelets, heart rocks, stuffed animals and other gifts. 

The books and gifts are helpful and educational for another reason, Jenny says: It’s often difficult for people to find appropriate words of comfort for a friend who has recently lost a loved one.

“When Maddie died, people said things like, ‘Well, thank God that you have other children’ … as if that somehow made losing Maddie easier for me,” she said.

“I don’t put them down for comments like that,” Jenny added. “Death is such a hard thing to grasp — such a forever thing.”

Nearly five years after the tragedy, the Papillon Center remains an important part of the Roses’ ongoing grieving process. They still attend groups and interact with support groups to share their daughter’s story.

“We go to a Wednesday-morning group where there are probably 12 people who have lost children,” said Don, who served on Papillon’s board of directors for the past three years. “Pretty soon you feel like you knew all of their kids, and those people feel like they knew Madison.

“It kind of keeps her alive,” he said. “When we’re in that room, I want to talk about Madison. I want to tell her story.”

Information about Papillon Center for Loss and Transition and more about the Madison Rose Memorial Library can be found online at https://www.papillon-center.orgThe office is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

Dennis Taylor is a freelance writer in Monterey County. Contact him at scribelaureate@gmail.com.

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