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Apr 21, 2009

Madeline Alice

I have been trying to write this for two weeks.

If you’re tuned into the Mommyblogging world, you no doubt heard about sweet little Maddie. I had not followed the Spohrs’ website closely, only popping by a time or two when directed there by other sites but I always enjoyed seeing the pictures of Maddie, their adorable, curly-haired girl and hearing of her adventures from her hilarious mother.

So I can’t even boast a close emotional relationship with that family or a working knowledge of their lives, as I can with other of my favorite websites. That didn’t matter last week, when I found out that their lovely little Maddie had died.

Maddie was premature and had trouble breathing throughout her short 17 months of life, a problem which recurred for a last and final time on April 7th. I read about this – and am still reading about it - on many websites, as she was a widely and deeply loved little girl. And, though I didn’t know what had happened or why or when, I was crushed. Devastated. I felt broken in half for this family, for these people who are parents without their daughter. I cried and mourned for them, with them. I still am.

Maddie’s mom, Heather, spoke at her daughter’s memorial service and she posted her words on her site. It took me three tries to get through it, and I still haven’t made it all the way through the photo tribute. I am simply not strong enough, unlike Maddie’s amazing mother. Heather talked about the beautiful and complete person that Maddie was, the things that she loved, and the life that she lived. Maddie was particularly fond of her dog, Ruby, she loved to be dressed up and look pretty, and she was incredibly affectionate, requiring hugs, kisses, and holding from those around her. She was a whole, full person at 17 months.

The part of Heather’s speech that surprisingly struck me the most was her description of the role of her blog in her life. She began writing about her experiences with a difficult pregnancy, then about the terrifying time just after Maddie was born, and grew the site to be a running commentary on Maddie’s adventures, complete with video and pictures. Now that Maddie is gone, Heather says that it is no longer about Maddie but for her. It is a complete record of her life, one which will tell her future siblings about the person she was and exist as a tribute to the difficult but lovely life she led. Now, it serves as a conduit between Heather and her people, some known to her personally, some only through the internet, but all her people. All Maddie’s people, who go to share and remember and mourn and work to make babies healthier.

I hate that this happens, I hate that Heather and her family have to experience this, and I hate that the world will never know Maddie as a two year old or a sixteen year old or a ninety year old. There is nothing we can do to help Maddie now, but we can do something in her name. Donate your money, time, and effort to the March of Dimes and help all babies to be born healthy.

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