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.”

Reminders April 29, 2009

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.”

There isn’t.

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.

Why Heather?

Why Madeline?

I know God has His reasons. And I understand in my own way why things like this happen. But why did He have to go and mess with my two best friends in less than a year? Why did I come out unscathed?

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.”

four purple ribbons copy

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


  1. As luck would have it, Germans are very fond of Smarties too. Will be sending Heather a little package of sweets and love very soon!

  2. <3 you more than you will ever know

    rachel-asouthernfairytales last blog post..A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

  3. You’re quite eloquent yourself.

    Avitables last blog post..Something to ponder

  4. Beautifully said.

    Alis last blog post..To Grandmother’s house we go

  5. There’s nothing I can add in the comments here that I feel could do your post justice. But thank you and I have felt this way in my life, too.


  6. I think I’m safe to speak for Heather when I say that it’s good to have friends like you around when the sky falls down. You are a friend that I’m glad to have in my life. xoxox

    DesignHER Mommas last blog post..A lesson in outwitting a 4 year old

  7. You know? I lost a child 9 years ago. I have friends who cried with me. I saw my midwife wipe away tears. I had friends who said, “I have cried BUCKETS!” Somehow that was comforting to me. It helped with the surrealness of it all.

  8. Three months ago my friend’s husband died in a freak accident, leaving her behind with her two small daughters. I still struggle with how selfish I feel everytime I cry about it. How selfish I feel, because my husband is still here and her superhero husband is not. That he won’t be here to watch his daughter turn two, kills me. It wrenches my heart out and stomps on it. And I feel crazy when I cry because, my life is still going on…everything is the same except now when I think about going to see them I have to remember that he isn’t there, that my friend is a widow that her best friend went to work one day and didn’t come home. And its not fair. And yet I feel selfish, and idiotic even as I type this, because why am I crying? Why do I suddenly loose my breath and feel chest will implode on the days when he pops in to my head just as he popped out of this world.

    I believe that everything happens for a reason and that I don’t always understand that reason.

    I also believe that sometimes life just totally and completely sucks. and that my friend wants to hear about her husband, she wants us to talk about him she wants us to say that we have cried over him and to cry with her over him because she wants that recognition…she has said similar things to me that I have read on Heather’s blog.

    “is this real? Was he real?”

    And how can you not cry, how can you not shed those big uncool tears that shake your whole body and the snot right out of you nose.

    I have a point…I think it is this, that our grief? shows are friends that we love them and we miss what is gone and that while we struggle with feelings of helplessness and inadequacy we are here for them…in pain, in sadness and in loss. And that that makes us the really great friends to have…at least that is what I hope.

    brits last blog post..Everybody’s supernova

  9. I was there. I drove with my sister (we go to college in Northern CA). We wore purple. I bawled my eyes out. I released a balloon and watched all of them go with the wind. I bawled my eyes out. Now, I listen to Beyonce or “Daughter” or the Beatles. I bawl my eyes out. I read every post by Heather, Mike, Meghan, you, everyone that talks about the aftermath of grief of losing baby Maddie. I bawl my eyes out.

    I met Heather in person the first time I was there. She called my sister and I “my twins.” That made what I was feeling so much more justified, if that’s the right word, because instead of being a faceless entity on the internet, she knew who my sister and I are. She knows how much we love her and Mike and Maddie. Blogs/Facebook/Twitter, it all serves to make a net to catch people on when the absolute worst happens. The worst did happen. Everyone who loves them needs catching every once in awhile when it all just hits too hard. We’re here to catch you. Sending love

  10. Heather and I are absolute strangers, yet every morning after I get my oldest off to school she’s the first thing I do. I check on her. I cry with every post.

    It’s hard to explain but I think as Mothers, we understand. Not in the same way as Heather and Tanis and all of those women who are out there trying to live apart from their babies, but I think that fear, that absolute understanding of the size the hole they would leave were they gone is something we all have in our minds and hearts the minute we dare to love someone like we love our children. I don’t know Heather’s pain, but I can imagine it becuase the specter of what she’s living haunts all of us with children. The horrible knowledge at how freaking fragile life is and how it would really only take an instant for any of us to be Heather.

    My dearest hope for Heather and Mike, beyond the peace that I know they both most desperately seek, is that somehow the love that pours toward them helps their pain in some small measure. And I’m sure having fantastic friends doesn’t hurt at all either.

    Jamies last blog post..Link Love Friday and other REALLY important musings

  11. I have never met Heather in real life and I can say I have some of the same feelings you do just knowing her from blogland for so long. I think about Heather, Mike and Maddie ALL THE TIME! Seriously multiple times a day all day long. I have told you before how guilty I feel when the kids are being bad and I yell. I yell and then I think of Heather. I never know what to write on her blog but her posts are amazing. Ok, I am rambling….

    Midwest Mommys last blog post..The Comic

  12. It doesn’t make sense, but Heather, Mike and Maddie changed me in a very deep way. Bearing witness to their pain has made me more aware of how fleeting joy can be, and how we have to embrace every painful, messy minute of our lives. I learned that lesson once before and had begun to forget.

    Maddie’s image, her handprints on a window … they all make me remember keenly that life is sweet and fleeting.

    You are a kind and empathetic person, and you love your friend deeply. How could you not feel pain?

    mrs chickens last blog post..Irony: It’s Good For You!

  13. *squishy hugs*

    I’m really glad you’ve finally written this.

    I love you!

    sam {temptingmama}s last blog post..Time to Lighten The Mood…And Your Hair… Down There

  14. I don’t have anything amazing or eloquent to add, but I just wanted you to know that every day I say a little prayer for everyone that was touched by Maddie. Because I know that you are all hurting, and will be for a long time. I hope that helps a little.

    katydid6s last blog post..Flamingobear

  15. Sometimes, making it about you is the key to understanding.

    SciFi Dads last blog post..Neglectimommy Volume 3

  16. xoxoxoxo

    You said this perfectly.

    I am too choked up to write more. You know my thoughts and so does Heather.

    I am so glad you have each other.

    loralees last blog post..What we’ve been up to the last week…

  17. What a sweet entry, you are a great friend. BTW — didn’t know that Smarties were Canadian? I was going to send smthg off to Heather, and could of course include some Smarties.

  18. You said to me once “I heart you hard”.

    That stuck with me, and I think about that phrase all the time. You are truly an amazing person to feel the things you feel, and write about them for all the world to see. I wish I could know Heather, I wish I could’ve met Maddie. I wish I could meet you in for reals and tell you how awesome I think you are.

  19. I just spent a while reading through Heather’s website. What a tragic story 🙁 She is lucky to have a friend who loves her so much that you hurt with her and for her the way you do.

    Breighs last blog post..I’m Sick Of It!

  20. What a beautiful post.

    Rachaels last blog post..Haiku Friday: WTF Edition

  21. a blog your friend and you must read.

    She lost her 13 year old to cancer two years ago this August and her journey through the pain is courageously told through this blog. It is not for the faint of heart but is for those who need someone to point the way in this winding, jagged road called grief.

    heathers last blog post..Older.

  22. I’m really glad you shared this, Casey. My friends and family have a difficult time understanding how upset I continue to be over Maddie’s passing. (Upset isn’t the right word.) The sorrow I feel for Heather and Mike seems so helpless and selfish. Sometimes I feel guilty, that I have no right to cry for them. But I do. I miss Maddie so much. And I am angry and confused and overwhelmed that something like this even happened. I read every one of Heather’s posts and every time I do, it hits me all over again. This is real. This cannot be undone. It feels like being punched, for lack of a better metaphor.

    So thank you for sharing this.

    And sorry I made this comment all about me too.

    *HUG* I very much look forward to nervously approaching you so I can steal a big hug.

    Marias last blog post..discovering lovely blogs

  23. Death is hard for everyone just not the people directly effected. There is no level of pain that is allowable just because you knew someone better than someone or were closer. There should be no judgment. You are allowed to be broken by this. It does not make you selfish to feel, it makes you human. It is about you and your feelings and what you are doing to survive this.

    Heather is lucky to have you, you feel because you love her, you love Maddie, you are human, you are a good person.

    I am thinking of you Casey along with Heather and Mike and all the others that are affected by the life of Miss Madeline.

    I told Heather the other day I have a picture in my kitchen of Miss Madeline and every single day I do my dishes, look out my window, etc. I think of her and Heather and Mike.

    The picture is bittersweet it makes me smile looking at her happy adorable face and then it makes my heart ache because of the reality of the situation.

    Hugs to you and Heather and everyone else that aches for miss Madeline!

  24. I’ve been quietly watching and reading; having never met Heather or Maddie through the Internet or real life, I wanted to wait until the time was right.

    Smarties are good for the soul. Jake and I would be honored to ship a bunch to Heather and Mike. 🙂

    Scattered Moms last blog post..Win a Power Shot Camera!

  25. Casey- I feel the same way. I didn’t get to know Maddie in the way you did, but at the walk for Maddie, I felt my heart break in a million little pieces. My breath caught in my chest and it hurt to move. The pain was too much. I also never wanted to make this about me, but you have managed to say what I could never figure out how to say. Thank you for being you and know that I love you very much.

    perksofbeingmes last blog post..She’s a pillar of strength with a heart of gold

  26. Here is one definition of empathy: Identifying oneself completely with an object or person, sometimes even to the point of responding physically.

    To empathize is to feel another’s pain. Of course none of us can know exactly how Heather and Mike feel. But all of us – especially the parents among us – can imagine it well enough to terrified for the fragility of our own blessings. And in that we feel for them, and reach out to them, and try to connect with them.

    You don’t need to feel guilty for the pain you feel. You are a true friend to them, and that is what they need.

    badassdadblogs last blog post..tuesday and everything after

  27. You’re a good, and true, friend. You are hurting too, even though it’s not your child that was lost. And Heather obviously knows that.

    Megs last blog post..Playing tourist

  28. I bawled and bawled and bawled for weeks. I don’t know any of you. Every post Heather writes makes me cry. I cry looking at my 15 month old son when I think of Maddie. I. Can’t. Even. Imagine that kind of grief. Not for a second.

    Maddie passed away on my birthday. I think of her all the time, multiple times a day, and she will never ever be forgotten.

    samantha jo campens last blog post..60 Day Shred BlogHer Challenge

  29. I don’t even know what to say, because there is nothing that can be said. When you lose a child, even when you’re not that child’s parent, it still rips a hole through your heart, your world. I’m sorry for your loss, for Heather’s loss, for everyone who knew Maddie. Those big, beautiful eyes of hers will forever haunt me.

    Elizabeth Kaylenes last blog post..Just do it, like Nike

  30. Miss Casey…great post. You know my thoughts. We talked about it.

    It’s so hard being the friend watching all this unfold for the very reasons you stated.

    It hurts to bad.

    It’s also hard to share these raw emotions with family and other friends who think we’re nuts for being so devastated. But we’re not nuts. We’re MOMS. We are wired in a very special way.

    When I talked to you about this the other day, I tried to explain it and then more or less threw my hands up and said “I probably make no sense.” But you knew exactly what I meant. We both felt the same way. It’s hard to be the grieving friend on the sidelines. It’s hard to try to understand what your friend is going through, because to do that, you have to creep toward that dark place. And nobody wants to do that. But we do it anyway … every time we read the blog entries. We do it when we see Maddie’s adorable face. We do it every time we think of a laugh shared with a friend, a moment spent together, a photo … We keep coming back to read about it, talk about, cry about it.

    I can relate to you because of my dear friend’s exact situation of losing a daughter (also named Maddie). I know that dark place. I’ve cried the crocodile tears. I’ve been to therapy for it … to try to make it all better. Yes, that’s right. I ended up in therapy because of my friend’s loss. That’s how much I know how you hurt.

    But … I love that you wrote this post. I love that all the other moms and friends are posting to say you are not alone. I love that you love Heather and Mike and Maddie so much. I love that you are such an amazing friend to so many people. I love that I know you will eventually feel less pain but way more love for Miss Maddie. I love that you have such a loving heart.

    YOU, dare I say it, are loved for being such a giving, loving soul. It’s what makes you who you are. It’s what makes all your friends so thankful to have you around.

    It’s that loving heart and soul that makes it SO DAMN HARD right now … but also what will help you mend and find more love and joy than you ever knew possible just because you were lucky enough to know Maddie and her mommy and daddy … and to call them friends.

    Hugs to you and all the aching friends out there …

    Kaseys last blog post..nowhere on earth I’d rather be

  31. and yes, I said LOVE a bunch of times and was all crying and typing and lamenting … which made me spell things wrong and go on and on and on … which i’m doing now again …

    Kaseys last blog post..nowhere on earth I’d rather be

  32. I don’t think it’s selfish to feel what you feel over the loss of Maddie. It’s a tribute to Maddie and shows how much you care for the entire family.

    Ohh Betsys last blog post..Bag it (or, the first giveaway ever on this little blog)

  33. Sunshine says:

    Your love for the Spohr’s is evident. No one could accuse you of being selfish or trying to make it ‘all about you.’ You are a good friend.

  34. Thanks for posting this. I’ve been struggling with a similar sense, except that in my case, I haven’t even met Heather in person. I never got to hug Maddie.

    Reading this makes me feel like maybe I can have permission to mourn and grieve, not just the utter wrongness of Maddie being gone and my life continuing on, but also that a person who doesn’t even realize how much I care about them is hurting.

    It hurts me to think of Heather (and Mike) hurting this way, and if I sound like a stalker to express such profound concern for someone I “have no right” to love this much, well, the universe can go suck it.

    Dellas last blog post..Not ME! Monday, June 1 Edition

  35. Love you, love Hedder. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of that lovely couple and the beautiful baby girl. I agree with Heather, I think putting ourselves in that situation makes us better friends, and better supporters. HUGS to you…and to her. LOVE you so much!

    Kimmies last blog post..Why Blogging is the Bomb


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