Degrees

by Jennifer on April 13, 2009

You can’t have missed the heartbreaking news last week about the loss of sweet Madeline Alice Spohr, or the outpouring of love and support for her parents, Heather and Mike.

I’ve read Heather’s blog (The Spohrs Are Multiplying) only a few times. So last week it felt strange to try to write about the a loss that happened to someone I don’t even know, even though I felt it bone-deep, as another mother. So I didn’t. I couldn’t. The words were a mix of heavy and weightless. Some fell through me, some drifted away before I could see their shape. Instead, I read the words that so many of you were able to write about this loss that we felt as mothers, as fathers, as friends. I cried several times.

There’s much to say about how so many people took their sadness and wove it into a lifeline for the Spohrs, by contributing money and resources. It overwhelms me, looking back over this week, what a force we can become when we are called upon.

You all know the theory of six degrees of separation. This last week felt like five of those degrees were unnecessary.

No separation at all.

And now, tonight, there’s news of another tragic loss in our community. Shana, who blogs at gorillabuns, lost her son Thalon this afternoon.

Though I don’t know this family, I reeled with this news as I had with the first. How could it be? Another baby. It’s too much. Each tragedy on its own is too much to bear, but one so close after the other is beyond understanding. It’s more than a heart can take.

There we all were last week, trying to make sense of it. Here we are, again. So many of us, connected by this thing we do, by parenthood, by friendship, by this community where the ties are thread-slender and yet somehow strong. Sharing one collective broken heart.

I don’t know how to say all of this. Or how not to, it turns out. It’s not new, this kind of sadness. But then, yes, it is. It is new and fresh and cruel. And for those parents, and families, and friends…bottomless.

And it’s enough, universe. It’s enough. Way past that line. So far past.

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For information how you can help, go to a special page For Maddie, at A Mom Two Boys. All the information you need is there. (Also, there’s a badge in my sidebar that will take you to the Paypal account that was set up to help the Spohrs with funeral expenses.)

I’m hoping to see the same kind of swell of support for Shana and her family. I’ll post any details that I can find.

UPDATE: Sarah, of the blog Whoorl, has set up a Paypal account to accept donations to help Shana’s family “with the expenses of Thalon’s hospital stay and funeral services. Please feel free to use the button on your website to help spread the word.”

If you want to use the button, just right click to save it, then link it to the paypal account.

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

V-Grrrl April 13, 2009 at 5:32 am

I didn’t know either of these families but witnessed the groundswell of grief and support and empathy for them.

I truly cannot imagine that loss. How do you draw another breath? Get up in the morning? Take care of the other children who are counting on you?

As you so eloquently said, it’s a grief as old as time and yet raw because we never ever want to belive this will happen to us, to anyone…

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slouching mom April 13, 2009 at 6:43 am

So unbearably sad.

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Chris April 13, 2009 at 6:52 am

I’m was familiar with the Spohrs’ and Shana’s blogs prior to the loss of these babies, but not as intimately as other people. My stomach lurched as I read the news about Shana’s baby. I don’t know how one loses a child and doesn’t lose their mind. Tragic. Heartbreaking.

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Marinka April 13, 2009 at 7:30 am

I have been trying to process Maddie’s death and now Thalon’s. It’s incomprehensible. I remember reading “Operating Instructions” by Anne Lamott, before I had children and there’s a passage about the hopes that she has for her son. And they start out lofty, like Nobel Peace Prize winner and then they start to become more realistic and ultimately she has one dream for her child and that is that he survives her. That’s how I’ve felt ever since I had kids (and not just because the whole Nobel Peace Prize seemed like a lot of work).

I think we all reel when we hear of a child’s death. We cannot imagine the family’s pain and we don’t want to let ourselves imagine it. I am heartbroken for Shana and Heather and their families and I send everything that’s good in my heart to them.

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Krystle | Snarky Kisses April 13, 2009 at 8:27 am

It is so sad and unfortunate. I too never really got to know Heather and Maddie, however I did blog a big post about it. I’m hoping that we can all drum up the same support that we did for Maddie, for Thalon too. It is only fair… and unfortunate that two sweet babies lost their lives way way too early.

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Daryl April 13, 2009 at 9:47 am

Sad, I read about Maddie last week and spent a lot of time reading the blog and ended up feeling the ache .. seems even those of us without children empathize too …

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Gwen April 13, 2009 at 10:48 am

You know, I struggle with this all a lot. And not with just the horror of these babies’ deaths, with the certain knowledge that if it were me, I would drown, with the sense of doom that it *could* be me, at any time. Because those are the thoughts too dangerous to entertain.

So what I distract myself with instead is contemplating the uneven-ness of our collective sorrow. These families, strangers to me in every way, are surrounded by this gigantic outpouring of love and support. And that’s wonderful. I am awed by the grace that abounds in this space so circumscribed by the wires and packets and bytes of technology. But it makes me feel uncomfortable at the same time.

Because I know that every day there are others whose lives matter just as much to them, who are suffering the same loss and sorrow, the same unfathomable pain yet in so much lonelier circumstances.

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maggie, dammit April 13, 2009 at 10:53 am

No words.

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ByJane April 13, 2009 at 11:53 am

The feeling that I –and everyone else I read on-line–has gives lie to those who say our computers isolate us. The deaths of these two babies and the grief we cannot imagine their parents feel is just as real to us as if we were next door neighbors. Maybe more so, because what we bloggers share is ourselves–and not just the weather or a cup of sugar.

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Manic Mommy April 13, 2009 at 3:22 pm

There really is too much for our community to digest. I pray and I hope for all of them.

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Emily R April 13, 2009 at 6:37 pm

I understand Gwen’s point, but I also feel that we are a community here on the blogosphere. And so the community is rallying around it’s own.

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the mama bird diaries April 13, 2009 at 6:53 pm

It’s all so awful. I never understood any of this until I become a mother. My heart is just breaking for these families. It’s too much.

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Momisodes April 13, 2009 at 6:57 pm

I’ve read so many posts about Maddie as well. Like you, I did not know much about Heather’s blog (or Shana’s), but yet, my heart still aches for them.

It is so tragic. It IS enough.

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Jenn @ Juggling LIfe April 13, 2009 at 9:36 pm

You’ve captured my emotions about the losses so well. Neither is a blog I read before, but you still feel that you’ve been punched in the stomach.

The support is breathtaking.

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anymommy April 13, 2009 at 9:38 pm

Way past the line – I’ve cried more this week than in the whole rest of the year. These losses are so heavy on our hearts. It is because of the community we have and also because of the reminder that there is never a day that a family somewhere doesn’t experience this pain.

Your words (as always) find the heart of the matter, I am shattered with grief and sympathy for Heather and Shana and their families and uplifted by the response in a world where I spend a lot of time and invest a lot of energy.

Mostly, though, just tears without the words to explain or comprehend.

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jessica April 13, 2009 at 10:09 pm

sometimes I have a hard time believing that there is a power out there greater than us because if there were, why take away these beautiful children and leave so many who never deserved the gift of life to begin with, living amongst us, wreaking havoc on the world.

Until I began to blog, news like this seemed to happen to others, far away and it allowed me to just move on but this, this is going to take some time. My heart breaks for these parents, no one should EVER have to endure this type of loss.

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RiverPoet April 14, 2009 at 4:58 pm

And I lost my daughter, as well. She died on 4/3/09…the police brought us the news. She was only 25.

D

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skywind April 14, 2009 at 5:36 pm

I feel very sad, I have nothing to say.
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