Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Why Maddie Matters

Mommies need support, even those with healthy children. Parenting is hard (for either gender) and the classic 'it takes a village to raise a child' comment is true. Parents need people to turn to when their child is crying and they have no idea why, when they are tired (oh so very tired), when they are proud (first steps!), pretty much at any stage in the process. We live in such transient times that many of use don't even know our neighbors, much less would be comfortable leaving our children in their care while we ran out for milk. That tight network of help and support that our grandparents had has slowly disintegrated generation over generation. Those of us raising children hours from family, new to areas, far from friends, experience the natural isolation of the early months of infanthood to an excruciating degree. Where can you turn when there is no one near? While we often bemoan the over connectedness of our hyper-wired lives, this very connection can be a parent's salvation.
I have been honored to become a part of the Mommy blogging nation. I'm merely a bit player in a community populated with rock stars - women who share their soul in smart, moving, & interesting ways. Blogher is filled with these women, and men, sharing stories of parenthood and the challenges and rewards it can bring. This blogging community I joined then expanded into twitter giving me the chance to interact real time with other women and men, parents and not, sharing stories of their lives with and without children. Twitter became my virtual community center, only without the bingo, a place to get information, to offer and get support, laugh, learn, and just hang out with like minded, and differently inclined folk - all with something compelling to offer. Intuitively I sensed this was a community, but I didn't know until today what power there was in this connection.
Today has been an amazing day - heartrending and overwhelming, and it's because of a little girl named Maddie. I don't know her. I never had to honor to meet her, and now I never will. She passed away 4 days ago before even reaching the age of two. I can't do Maddie justice but her family can - read their blog: . It is full of pictures of a beautiful joyful child that reminds me of my own preemie baby enough to make my breath catch at the thought of how close we were to the same situation.
I can't comprehend what this loss is for Heather & Mike, literally, I can NOT comprehend it. But this family is right now deep in this tragic and painful place. Whenever I try to put myself in their shoes, my mind, my HEART, refuses to go there. I can't. I just can't imagine it. It too dark and horrid and terrifying. If ever a parent, a family has needed the support of a community, it is the Spohrs and it is now.
And they got it. This beautiful little girl has triggered an outpouring of love and passion and support from this virtual collective that has shown me what a 'community' really is. #maddie has become a top trend on Twitter, meaning that everyone is talking about this tragedy. Her story has flown from blog to blog, and people from all over the globe have used the internet to pour love and hope and support and even donations towards the Spohrs and Maddie's cause, the March of Dimes.
When people roll their eyes at Twitter or Facebook or blogging, I will point to this story, to this experience. These websites, these technologies aren't the point. They are only tools, and they can be used to superpoke people, or spam market with twitterbots, OR, as today, they can be used for overwhelming good. In spite of the devastating loss of a child far to young to go home, the response of this community makes me believe that meaning can be found even in the unthinkably wrong, and that evil doesn't triumph, not when we all band together to fight it, even if it is virtually.
Maddie, you have touched the world & spread love and joy even in your passing - your parents should be proud of their beautiful baby girl.

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