Couple Matt and Liz Logelin seemed able to make it through anything. From high school to a long-distance relationship, from landing impressive jobs to tying the knot, everything was going great until their daughter was born. Then tragedy turned everything upside down.
Minnesota native Matt and Liz met at a gas station when they were both high school seniors. Liz approached Matt and mispronounced his name. No matter though, it sparked the beginning of a fairy-tale love story, and the two became inseparable until it was time to go to college.
The sweethearts were enrolled in different colleges with Liz going to California while Matt attended a local university. The pair endured the distance, but maintained their relationship. When Matt was contemplating whether to pursue a Ph.D. after completing his Master’s Degree, he made a life-changing decision.
After all those years apart, Matt decided to move halfway across the country to be with his beloved in Los Angeles. From there, the two took life by the horns. They traveled the world and made new memories together. With life and love seemingly on their side, Matt proposed to Liz in Nepal.
After exchanging vows in 2005, Matt and Liz were ecstatic to start their lives together and things seemed to be going great. With Matt being a project manager at Yahoo and Liz a financial executive at Disney, the couple bought a house together. But the happiness didn’t end there.
Two years after their marriage, the young couple found that they were expecting their first child – a girl. They couldn’t wait to share the joyous news with their near and dear. But as they couldn’t all be around, the thrilled parents-to-be started a pregnancy blog to keep them in the loop.
They kept people regularly updated on Liz’s progress with adorable photos on the blog. However, Liz’s pregnancy was not an easy one. Usually healthy and active, Liz suffered with severe morning sickness and was even hospitalized for a couple of weeks after her pregnancy was classified as high-risk.
Meanwhile, Matt kept a watchful eye on his wife and continued to update their pregnancy blog. On March 24, 2008, the pair welcomed daughter, Madeline (Maddy), into the world through cesarean. Weighing barely 3 lbs. 14 oz, Maddy was hurriedly sent to the neonatal ICU after Liz saw her baby girl briefly.
Overjoyed, Matt announced the birth on the blog: “Madeline is here!” “The proud parents will continue to update everyone on our beautiful baby. Look forward to even more good news,” he added. But he’d never have imagined the words he’d soon be writing.
Liz couldn’t wait to hold her daughter. However, doctors ordered her to 24 more hours of bedrest before she was wheeled to see her baby. It was a moment both Liz and Matt had long been waiting for. But when the three of them could have some much-needed bonding time, tragedy struck.
When Matt caringly helped Liz into the wheelchair, Liz suddenly uttered “I feel light-headed” and collapsed in his arms. Though the nurses told him that fainting is common among new moms, Matt felt that something wasn’t right with his dear wife.
Only 27 hours after giving birth to Madeline, a rare, fatal pulmonary embolism tragically took Liz’s life at just 30-years-old. Devastated, Matt was left reeling. “She was never going to hold her baby,” Matt painstakingly recalled.
In just one day, Matt had gone from an ecstatic new father to a devastated widower. He had expected to fill the pregnancy blog with doting pictures of the happy family, but instead, his next post was a heartbreaking one. “On that same day, my world fell apart,” he mournfully wrote.
Matt simultaneously found himself to be a grief-stricken widower and an enamored new father. Left navigating the confusing onslaught of emotions, he was floored by the thought of raising newborn Maddy by himself. He went to the ward and held his infant daughter for the first time.
When Matt finally got to bring Madeleine home for the first time, he felt the house alive again. The first few weeks after Liz died had been agonizing, but Matt was emboldened by the thought that his daughter needed him and that a part of his wife lived on in her.
To channel his intense feelings, Matt started posting to an online parenting forum. He also refashioned his and Liz’s pregnancy blog into a personal parenting blog. The single father found some solace in writing. He also received useful advice on how to care for a baby from parents in similar situations.
Matt’s blog, now called “Matt, Liz and Madeline: Life and Death, All in a 27-Hour Period,” would be a meaningful virtual scrapbook for Madeline. It produced something inspiring and incredible out of tragedy. Soon the forum became a widespread cathartic outlet, attracting tens of thousands of views a day.
Along with their valuable words, the blog also proved a rallying point for something truly heartfelt. Apart from well-wishes, the single father started to receive a variety of items like diaper bags, baby nail clippers and baby clothes that soon filled the modest living room of their home. “I never imagined that people would care about us the way they do,” Matt gratefully said.
With the help of some of his avid readers, Matt set up a charity organization in Liz’s name. Considering Liz herself was a runner, the foundation organized 5-K walks and runs in Liz’s hometown, and all the money raised was given away to the widows and widowers Matt had met through his blog.
Run by volunteers, the Foundation also held a Celebration of Hope gala on the weekend closest to Liz’s birthday on Sep. 17, and an event called 5K Walk/Run/Hope Around the World. All the profits from these activities go directly to the Liz Logelin Foundation. But the story doesn’t end there.
As time passed, Matt was struck how much his daughter resembled his late wife. He realized that “In many ways, it (his blog) is a love letter to Madeline and Liz.” “I want Madeline to know that her dad didn’t just curl up in a ball and start drinking heavily. I want her to know I was out there, doing as much as I could for her, and trying to make her as happy as I could,” Matt said.
In 2009, with Maddy by his side, Matt traveled to India where he penned a memoir titled Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss & Love. India was a place of particular significance as Matt and Liz had traveled there after their wedding. The book became an instant New York Times bestseller, and there was more good fortune in store.
In 2016, word started to circulate that Channing Tatum was going to take on a big-budget Hollywood film adaptation of the book. The famous actor is slated to serve as executive producer and might even star in the pending father-daughter drama. So where does it all leave Matt and Maddy?
After the memoir, Matt co-authored with his friend Sara Jensen a children’s book named Be Glad Your Dad…(Is Not an Octopus!). It’s a humorous, G-rated version of the “would you rather” game, accompanied by adorable illustrations by Jared Chapman, and has been getting rave reviews.
Maddy turned 10 years old on March 24, 2018. That date also marked 10 years since the tragic death of her mother. Over the years, Maddy has grown to know her mother through stories and pictures. She also got involved in the Foundation’s activities and even tried to raise money for people in need outside of the organization’s usual activities.
All these years, Matt has done everything in his power to surround his daughter with love and happiness and to honor his late wife Liz’s memory. His story provides a valuable learning example for others on how to pick yourself up from tragedy and make the best out of what seems like an impossible situation.