Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Agony and the Ecstasy

I got a facebook message Friday night from my friend Vicki, who knows I can't turn away from a sad story. (And who, not coincidentally, is the person who prompted me to blog about one not long ago.)

She follows a woman named Heather Spohr on Twitter. Heather writes a hilarious blog called The Spohrs are Multiplying, about the ups and downs of raising her 17 month old daughter Maddie, who was born 11 weeks early. The blog is enormously popular, with untold thousands of people following Maddie's every adorable move.

It's easy to see why. Maddie is just one of those kids that you see once and never forget. That impish little face. Her other-worldly eyes.

Even the quickest of scans through Heather's blog makes you want her to be your mother. And the love she has for that little imp, who struggled so hard to make it into the world, is all but palpable.

Heather was tweeting last Tuesday that Maddie had been hospitalized after a bad cough that failed to respond to oxygen treatment, which was nothing terribly new for the Spohrs. She joked about the hot EMT in the ambulance, and the lack of choices in the hospital cafeteria. Then, at 4 p.m, she wrote "They're going to intubate her, I'm freaking out." At 9:16 a friend updated Heather's blog saying that Madeline had died. Just like that.

It's times like this I wish I could summon something like a semblance of faith. I envy those who believe there is a higher purpose for an event like this one; I just can't muster one no matter how hard I try. I envy those who can take comfort believing that Maddie is now with God. Or Jesus. To me? I can only see a mother and father forced to suffer a gaping, ferocious, unhealable wound. And a dark spot in the world where once there was a very special little elf of a baby girl who should by all rights be snuggled in bed right now, just like my sons are.

The only comfort I draw is that much like the death of Emilie Lemmons, Maddie Spohr's death has created an overwhelming outpouring of love and support.
In just five days, over $23,000 has been raised for the March of Dimes in Maddie's memory. Close to 400 people have blogged about Maddie. The entire site is currently devoted to writings about Maddie. (There's also an article about the Spohrs in today's LA Times.) And thousands of children, including two who happen to live in my house, have no doubt been hugged and kissed with reckless abandon, even after they left half-eaten crackers on the train table. Must. Not. Sweat. Thepettyshit.

Since I'm not a Christian, I don't want to put too fine a point on the fact that today is Easter. But having spent much of the weekend musing on what could possibly be redemptive about a senseless, heartbreaking death, perhaps it's not entirely coincidental that I accidentally stumbled on this today and it made me feel hopeful again.
If there's a faith to be had, I feel confident I have faith in whatever this is.

Sound of Music Train Station @ Yahoo! Video

Rest in peace, Maddie.

And if you're feeling inspired, you can use one of these buttons to make a donation, either to the Spohrs themselves, who are self-employed, to help with funeral costs and loss of income, or to the March of Dimes.

1 comment:

  1. I do it everytime. I always innocently start reading your blog posts. Idol chatter, muddy golf (And by the way--you hate Led Zeppelin--even Kashmir? What kind of neighborhood is this?) Then I hit these kinds of posts--you make-a-me laugh, you make-a-me cry--I'm exhausted and have to go home. It's a killer to read about these kinds of things. When Ty first came to our house my mother gave the following advice: She said, don't keep checking on the baby at night--he really is still breathing. I think we parents often harbor these kinds of fears about losing our children. I can't imagine the agony that these people went through. It does make you wanna get over all of the little crap. Thank you for also posting the train station video, really quite amazing.