Since it’s already pretty obvious to those who know me well, the passing of Madeline has hit me in a place I didn’t know I could be hit in. It’s a sort of triangle, from the center of my chest down to my stomach, it seizes, and when it does it leaves my head unable function, I forget to breathe. I have to remind myself to breathe.
And then I think of Heather.
“It feels like a dream. But not this part. The Maddie part. She was so wonderful and perfect, she couldn’t possibly have been real. Nothing that perfect is real. Except this pain. It is perfectly, exquisitely wretched.”
I’ve been on chat with her on a conference call when someone said “We’ve been to hell and back” in regards to an ill child.
Heather’s response was simply “They think they’ve been to hell and back.”
I woke up one morning to an email that said “Today was the second worst day of my life.” And then I thought about the first. Madeline.
Another time I received an email that ended with the sentence “I can’t believe this is my life.”
I was sitting in the Spohr’s living room after picking Tanis up from the airport, her words “You will never know worse pain than this.” suddenly made me feel inadequate, how could I ever help my darling Hedder who now knows the worst pain a human can possibly feel?
My sister and I were loyal ER watchers, have been for as long as I can remember. We were watching old episodes when she was out visiting and one of the actors said:
“When you lose a spouse you’re a widow, when you lose your parents you’re an orphan, but when you lose a child? There’s no word for that.”
I haven’t wanted to write this post. I don’t want to make it about me. It’s not me who lost a child, yet when I look at the past eight weeks I realize I haven’t been the same. Others around me realize I haven’t been the same. When Heather says “I can’t believe this is my life” I look up and see my daughter playing on the floor, my husband making pancakes and a bright endless future in front of us.
I’m so far away from both of them.
I miss them so much.
I finally admitted to Heather the other night how I felt. How I feel unjustly busted up over her loss and her pain. Again with all her infinite wisdom she replied “If this were reversed? I would be shattered for you. Sometimes making it all about you is the only way you can realize what someone else is going through.”
I can say this, loss has made Heather immensely eloquent.
When I said goodbye to Heather and left for the airport I was doing okay. But when I got to the airport and realized I was headed back to my life that was still the way I left it and leaving Heather and Mike alone on their couch?
I lost it.
I knew Maddie, I held Maddie, I was mesmerized by her. the moosh was mesmerized by her. She truly was the happiest baby and strongest little spirit I have EVER come across in my life. Her light made the moosh’s a warm glow in comparison.
She was NOT a sickly child. She was a force to be reckoned with.
I made the grown men on my first flight next to me very uncomfortable. I finally had to scribble out where I had been on a napkin and pass it to the man sitting next to me on my second flight.
I haven’t really picked up my camera since leaving LA, the last thing it captured was Madeline’s service. Heather has had a hard time picking hers up too. Her exact words? “My muse is gone.”
There is still a P.O. Box set up for letters, cards, hand knit tea cozies and Canadian candy (her favorite are Smarties.)
Every Tuesday adds a number to how long Madeline has been gone.
The eleventh of every month is a celebration of Maddie’s entrance into all of our lives.
The seventh of every month is punch in the tenders.
I have received emails from others of you who have had to watch as a close friend truly visits the hell that is losing a child. You realized what was affecting me so deeply before I did. I felt safe replying to you that “Yes, actually. I am wrecked.” but felt that I could never admit it to the rest of the world without looking like an excuse seeking pansy.
I love you Hedder. Thanks for letting me make this about me for a day.
Mike & Heather Spohr
11870 Santa Monica Blvd. #106-514
West Los Angeles, CA 90025