It’s with a sad heart that I sit down this morning to collect my thoughts. I didn’t sleep well, instead tossing and turning all night thinking about Maddie, the incredibly precious little girl I never knew but had heard so much about from her loving and devoted mother, Heather. Maddie passed away last night after being brought to the hospital yesterday for respiratory distress.
My deepest, most heartfelt sympathies to Heather and Mike Spohr for the loss of their little angel, Maddie. May they eventually find some kind of peace and understanding in the midst of something so unfathomably tragic and unfair.
If you’re feeling as helpless as I am, how about making a donation to our March of Dimes “March for babies” team “Friends of Maddie?” We’re walking April 25th at U of Tampa and want to raise as much money as we can in Maddie’s name and in hopes that someday ALL babies will be born healthy and stay that way.
I’ve learned the hard way that life is too short and too precious to take for granted. I live with this knowledge, both a curse as well as a blessing, every day of my life. It’s what sends me out to the car in the morning, in my underwear, to tell my kids and husband, one more time, that I love them and to be careful—just in case. It’s what makes me regret anything harsh or unkind that I may have said or done during the course of a day because what if it’s the last thing I ever said to them?
Stay with me here. There’s a point to all of this…
A couple weeks ago, when my three year old son was stricken with an unknown virus that rendered him unable to keep anything in his stomach, he ended up in the ER for dehydration, which unbeknownst to me, can be fatal. I heard a toddler-aged girl on the other side of the curtain squalling and crying helplessly, endlessly. I could hear the doctors talking. I knew she was pretty sick, too.
I can’t tell you how awful it was to be confronted with the mortality of small children like that. It was heart-wrenching because they’re just babies. Just like Maddie. That they could get so sick and possibly die was just too awful to think about and yet, I know from experience that people will die without warning, without giving you a chance to say goodbye, make amends or tell them you love them.
The night before we went to the ER, when his temp was close to 104, I knew that my son had taken a turn for the worse and I knew we’d probably end up going to the hospital. And while we sat in that ER waiting room for close to three hours, I watched my baby go from being miserable but awake to miserable and limp. It felt like the life was draining out of him right in front of me and it was terrifying.
But ultimately, despite all my fears, I was one of the lucky parents in the pediatric ER. My child left the hospital eight hours later in better condition than he came in. He was still sick and feverish but he was going to be fine.
Once again, the fates had reminded me that life is fragile. Unlike Maddie’s mother, I would have more time and more opportunities to enjoy and cherish my son—and everyone else who matters in my life.