Mother of Family Killed in Christmas Fire Shares Her Story

Madonna Badger said she will spend Christmas in Thailand, in what she called a “Santa Claus-free zone.”

On Christmas Day 2011, Madonna Badger’s three young daughters and her parents were killed in a house fire in Stamford.

After going through almost a year of devastating grief and healing, she plans to spend Christmas in Thailand, working in an orphanage. She will be far away from reminders of the tragic day that took her daughters Lily, Sarah and Grace, and her parents Pauline and Lomer Johnson.

“I am going to go to Thailand. It’s a Santa Claus-free zone,” Badger said during an interview with Matt Lauer on the Today Show on Thursday morning.

She said she will be bringing along toys that belonged to her children.

Badger was smiling in the interview, something she said she is shocked by. The last time she appeared on the Today Show, six months ago, she said she felt guilty when she smiled and laughed.

“I am doing really well. I’m shocked that I am doing OK, but I am doing really well,” she said.
When she experiences moments of joy, these  are the times when she can feel the presence of her daughters and parents the most, she said.

Badger said she has received messages from her daughters.

She sees them in her dreams and when she prays. At first she thought she was delusional, but she read “Proof of Heaven” and met with the author and said those messages have helped her go on.     

“Lily came to me very early on and said, ‘Don’t worry Mommy, I am right there in your heart, and I love you,’” Badger said.

One day, as Badger cried intensely, she said she saw Sarah in the mirror and the little girl told her she did not have to be afraid and that everything would be OK.  

Badger said seeking professional help through therapy, including at the University of Arkansas, has helped her.

During times of grief, most people turn to their family for help, but the Christmas Day fire took Badger’s entire family, Lauer said, so Badger has relied on a circle of friends in New York and in Little Rock, Arkansas.

“I never felt judged. I always felt they were there for me,” Badger said.

Badger also addressed statements her ex-husband, Matthew Badger, made about his grief. He said, at one point, he wanted to kill Madonna and her boyfriend at the time, the man police believe placed the ashes that caused the fire. 

“I thought that was perfectly normal,” Madonna  Badger. “I would have felt the same way.”

She said she does not judge her ex-husband’s grief and is proud of what he has done with the fund he has set up in memory of his daughters. 

Madonna Badger said she intends to donate money given to her, “The Other 364 Foundation,” which was developed in honor of Lily, Sarah and Grace, to the Lily, Sarah, Grace Fund.

To donate to the fund, you can write a check to payable to The LilySarahGraceFund, Inc.
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