Sunday, April 19, 2009

Madeline Spohr

About now everybody's heard about the passing of Madeline Spohr. I didn't know this sweet, little angel and I don't know her parents. But I can't stop thinking about all of them. It's strange the way that certain things can have such a deep impact on my emotional state. I mean things that have nothing to do with me, really. Things that shouldn't distract me or make me sob heartily while I rock my Livy in the tightest of embraces.

"What's wrong Mom? Why are you crying?"

"I'm crying because a baby died, Liv. A baby was sick and then she died."

"Now she's in heaven with Aunt Amy?"

"Yep. That's where she is now. But her mom and dad will miss her."

And then she and I snuggled and watched the memorial tribute video together.

I can't stop talking about Maddie. I talk about her to anyone who will listen. It's so hard for me to accept that we live in a world where babies can die. I mean, logically I know that it happens more than it should. But emotionally I'm having a hard time coming to terms with the fragility of human life, with the injustice of a life cut unbearably short. I remember talking with Amy about her death and the one thing she always made a point to say was, "At least I've had a chance to grow and live. There are babies and kids who don't even get the chance to grow up." She knew that life didn't make sense whatsoever. She knew firsthand that life was one fucked up event after another with occasional bouts of joy sprinkled in.

My heart breaks for Maddie's parents and for any other parents who have had to say goodbye to their little ones. When I think about the pain of that, I get sick to my stomach. I can't even fathom the torturous, soul-destroying anguish of losing a child. I feel helpless in the face of it. I look at my little girl, napping soundly in the bed next to me, and I feel an odd guilt but also a gnawing fear. Life is so random. You just never know what is coming up around the corner.

I've noticed a change in me since I heard about Madeline's death. When Liv says, "Mom, come see what I made!" I don't say, "Not now, Liv, I'm busy." I go and see what she's made. I tell her that her block tower is an amazing achievement of architecture. When she sidles up next to me, book in hand, and says, "Please read me a story." I say, "Okay! Let's do it." I know that there are parents out there who would give anything, any fucking thing, to see their dead child's block tower, to read him or her just one more story book. I know that I am one of the lucky ones. So far.

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