BN Channel Overcoming Adversity

The Dying Season

Overcoming Adversity Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally published on Chicken and Cheese.}

Not too long ago, we bathed The Poo while chatting about all the people who love her.

We listed off all her grandparents, and then spent time explaining how we, her parents, were also children.

“Your grandma and grandpa are my mommy and daddy,” Mr. Chicken told her, as he sluiced shampoo from her hair using a small container of water. “And meema is Mommy’s mommy.”

Suddenly, without warning, The Poo realized a new truth about our extended family.

“Mommy!” she exclaimed, the gears in her head grinding away. “You don’t have a daddy!”

I winced, her words hitting me as hard as any blow. My father’s been on my mind of late.

This is, you see, my season of loss.

*****

Even as we welcome a new soul to our household, my mind wanders – dreadfully – to this date on the calendar. Four years ago today, at 3:30 in the afternoon, my father drew his last breath.

Each year I think the hours will come and go like any other, just a pair of numbers and nothing more. I believe I will keep house and tend children, spending my time as I would on an ordinary day.

But this day, this terrible day, will never be ordinary again.

The immediacy of my grief has faded; that much is true. No longer do I wake in the heart of the night, veins pounding with dreams the color of blood. No longer do I wake each Aug. 26 precisely at 4 a.m., the time my telephone rang with the news that an ambulance was ferrying my father to the emergency room.

But when August begins to wane, a bruise rises to the surface, tender and easily irritated. The warm weather and the slant of the sun prompt recollections I’d rather forget – walking my parents’ dog in the late afternoon the week before my dad died, while they were away at The Mayo Clinic; the hope I felt when the doctors reported that the cancer was dead; the terrible tremor in my dad’s voice the last time I spoke to him on the phone.

I called to tell my mother I wanted to come out to Minnesota. I was on vacation, and something inside urged me to get on a plane and be with them.



Into the Marrow

Overcoming Adversity Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally published on Pensieve}

She will haunt me, this I know.

“I am happy,” she says, and she means it. Even if she did not speak those words, her countenance belies this simple truth: She is happy.

Kolkata slums, Compassion International sponsored child

Kiran invited us to her home today, a 4′ x 6′ shoebox in the heart of Kolkata’s slums, blocks away from the glow and lure of proverbial red lights and painted women. Girls, actually, some even younger than Kiran. Simple math tells me 175 of her houses could fit into mine.

She is the only Compassion International sponsored child we visited this week who didn’t have a parent home with her.



Sweet Maddie Spohr

Overcoming Adversity Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally published on Loralee’s Looney Tunes}

This was not the post I thought I would be writing today. I actually didn’t think I would be writing any post today as my computer isn’t coming until tomorrow, but my heart, head and eyes are so full I bundled myself up late at night and went in search of a computer, any computer I could use to get my feelings out.

I was at the hospital in the middle of an icky 4-hour ultrasound and OBGYN appointment when I got a call from Casey that shattered my heart.

Maddie Spohr passed away yesterday.

She was 17-months old.

Have you ever seen such a spunky, lively, beautiful little angel? I know when I first saw this photo, my heart MELTED. She’s always been such a beautiful little elf that seemed to get more gorgeous with each passing photo I saw.

Maddie’s mom, Heather is a dear friend and I love her. She has always been there to lend an ear, be a dork with me on Twitter late into the night and she listened to me talk about my son Matthew that passed away. Maddie was 11 wks premature and though she was still with Heather, she could understand much of what I went through because a very ill baby gives you much more insight than most people.



Pitiless, The Mercy Of Time

Overcoming Adversity Blog Nosh Magazine

{Originally published at Her Bad Mother}

When a family loses a child, we feel it. Whether or not we knew that family, whether or not we knew that child, we feel it. We feel it because the shockwaves of that loss – that loss as felt by the mother, the father, the family, the friends, the community, that loss as felt by the world, because surely the earth itself shudders, a little bit, when one of its flowers is cut too soon – the shockwaves of that loss reach into our very souls, to the furthest corners of our souls where we keep, hidden in the dark, away out of sight, our worst fear. And the shockwaves of that loss – snapping, lashing, electric – light up those dark corners and awaken the beast of our fear and we tremble.

We tremble because we know. Every single one of us has imagined what it would be like to lose a child. Every single one of us has lived and relived this imaginary terror. Each and every one of us has held our children in our arms and felt the warmth of their breath on our neck and had a single, heart-stopping thought: what if? And then we’ve all squeezed our children more tightly and waited until our hearts resumed their beat before letting go, a little sadder, a little older, a lot more grateful for the time that we have.

So when someone runs out of time, when someone is forced to really let go, let go let go let go, we know. And our hearts stop for them, for knowing.

My heart stopped today. I am sadder, older, more grateful, now that it has resumed its beat.

Requiescat in pace, Madeline Alice Spohr. Your home, now, is timelessness.



Her Smile Lives On

Her Smile Lives On

Overcoming Adversity Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally posted on The Busy Dad Blog}

I’ve written and re-written this first paragraph 4 or 5 times tonight, hating everything that I put on this screen. How can you capture the feeling that washes over you when a beautiful sweet little girl who just a few weeks ago made you smile for no reason other than her flashing you a “who the hell are you?” look is suddenly taken away from this world? I’m pissed. Pissed that it happened to such a pure soul. Pissed that a mother and a father now have to live through the heartbreak of it all. And saddened to the core.

I didn’t know Maddie, Heather or Mike that well, and I only met them once at a gathering recently at their home (of course Maddie won me over right away – who could resist a smile like hers!). But I’m a parent. And that is all the commonality I needed to share with them to feel a stab in the heart when I found out about this last night. If you are a parent, I don’t need to go on. You understand.

If there is any ray of positivity at all that I can squeeze from this, it’s that Maddie’s smile is in the hearts of hundreds if not thousands right now. Her smile has manifested itself in an outpouring of generosity from people like you and me, donating to the March of Dimes in her name; mobilizing to walk as one in her memory; and using our collective voices online to keep that smile alive across the internet.



Our Time in Eden

Overcoming Adversity Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally posted on Slouching Past 40}

How does it happen that a sixteen-month-old girl with eyes that managed to reflect all of the abundant colors of the ocean at once and with a smile containing such joy that strangers couldn’t help but smile with her, a girl with all of it before her (only 500 days under her belt, give or take), might be here one moment and gone the next?

*********************

I do not know. I am one of the lucky ones. My son comes home with a sore throat and later spikes a fever. His temperature soars, and I fret. I take him to the doctor, who diagnoses strep throat and hands me a prescription for penicillin. Eighteen hours and three pills later, my child looks and feels remarkably better. He is no longer pale with a slightly greenish cast. He is not hot to the touch. Fatigue does not ring his eyes. I can’t believe how well this medicine works!, he grins. I could almost have gone to school today! And then he glances at me. Worry has crossed his face. He amends: Well, not almost… I’ll be ready tomorrow, though.

All of us wanted Maddie’s story to go like this, and most of us expected that it would.

But a few of you know better. Experience has taught you different and cruel lessons. You were cast out of Eden some time ago. The rest of us bite our lips and hold our children closer, huddling up against one another, afraid that we, too, might be called on, might have to forsake the complacence we clutch as tightly as we do those children of ours, might have to bump up against the fact that our children are mortal, no different from us, from our parents, from their parents and all the parents before them, too. What hubris we show when we congratulate ourselves on how well we’ve managed to protect our offspring when the reality is that we have so little to do with it.



Heartsick

Family{Originally published on A Smeddling Kiss}

Today I learned of the death of a beautiful little girl.

One of my fellow Blog Nosh editors is Heather Spohr, who has chronicled her difficult pregnancy and life with her husband and darling premature daughter on her blog The Spohrs Are Multiplying. Madeline Alice Spohr passed away yesterday, sometime after Heather tweeted from the hospital, “They are going to intubate her. I’m freaking out.”

I rarely pray, because I’m not sure who I’m praying to, but sometimes when things get scary I fall back onto my Catholic upbringing and find myself repeating the Lord’s Prayer over and over, just sending it out there in case it might help. I did it the morning of 9/11/01, I did it when my dad was in surgery, and I found myself doing it last night after reading that tweet.

The terrible news about Maddie stopped me in my tracks this morning. I forget after 9 years that Pepper was a preemie, too – 6 weeks early – and so I made my way over to Maddie’s March of Dimes page to make a donation. I urge anyone who reads this to do the same.

I realized I hadn’t posted anything in a week, and while looking for something to post, I found a draft I started last month titled “Heartsore” about all the ways I am worried for my daughter. She and I have been having a difficult time lately. She is grumpy and whiny and ungrateful and I am often at a loss how to deal with all of these negative emotions.

As you night expect, re-reading it after learning of Maddie’s death flipped my perspective. I have a beautiful 9 year old girl, smart as a whip and full of neurosis and overflowing with emotions, and I am so grateful. So lucky. And that is what I will tell her tonight when she starts yelling at the computer or whining about bedtime or making faces at the dinner I have prepared for her. I’m going to tell her, “I’m so lucky to have you.” She’ll probably think I’m teasing her at first, but I won’t be, and by the time she falls asleep tonight, I’m going to make sure she understands how much I mean it.

Tomorrow morning, I’ll wake her up for school and she will groan at me and whine about brushing her hair. It will all start all over again, the crying and the lecturing and the love and the anger, and it is difficult to put into word how grateful I am for that.



Shock

Overcoming Adversity Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally posted on Joy Unexpected}

I can’t sleep.

My friend’s baby died today.

Her baby died.

I had read that she has been taken to hospital by ambulance. I was worried, so this afternoon I sent her an email.

Just catching up on what’s going on with your baby girl. I’ve been so busy and wrapped up in my stupid little world.If you need ANYTHING, please don’t hesitate to call me. I’m only an hour-ish away.

Thinking of you all.

She wrote back and said she was worried. Maddie was breathing really hard and the doctors didn’t know why. She was scared, but glad she was being monitored so closely.

I remember feeling worried, but thinking they would figure out what was wrong and she would get better. She had to get better.

Then, tonight, I clicked over to her blog and read this.

My husband was sitting here on the couch with me when I read it. I threw my laptop down and just shouted “NO! NO!!”

I started to shake. I was in shock.

I then called a couple of friends who are also friends with Heather and we sobbed together in disbelieve.

It’s unreal. I still can’t believe it.

Every time I close my eyes to try to sleep, I think of Heather. I think of the last time I saw her– we were at the LA food bank, volunteering our time. She was so kind and wonderful to be around. Towards the end of the day, she got a phone call from her babysitter. Maddie had a fever. I saw the worry instantly sweep over her face. I told her it was okay if she needed to leave. I could just feel the love she had for her baby girl in that moment.



Madeline Spohr

Overcoming Adversity Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally posted by writer Maggie over at okay. fine. dammit.}

I can’t explain to my family why I’m so sad today; there’s no way they would understand. The only people who will get it are you, you out there, and so I’ve come to this space to add my liquid prayer to your ocean of empathy, to set it a-sail, to hope it reaches its rightful owner.

I mean, what can I say to my husband? That a “friend’s” 17-month-old daughter died unexpectedly? Because we’re not really friends, right? I’ve never met the Spohr’s.

But I know their names as solidly as I know anyone’s in my “real life.” More than that, so much more than that, I know that sweet baby girl’s face. How many times have I scrolled over it in my Reader, my own daughters screaming, “Stop!” My four-year-old smacking her warm palm down on my mouse-hand, saying, “Wait! Go back! Show me dat cute giwl again. I know her! Who is that, mommy? I know her!”

Because they saw that face a time or two on this computer, and it was the kind of face you can’t forget. It was the kind of face that triggered on instant grin on my own. How many times did I lean across the couch to my husband, giggle, and show him that face? Watch his own smile break like a wave?

Still. I am here, on spring break, shuffling through the sand a bit slower, hanging back, healthy and blessed and happy and yet, not. Hugging my girls a bit tighter, answering their questions a beat or two late, distracted. Grief-stricken.

How do we explain to the rest of the world how well we have come to know each other, all of us here? So that if one of us suffers an unfathomable loss we feel it like our own gut-punch? Who is that, mommy? I know her!

I know her too, baby.

I’m shocked. I’m sad. And I’m so, so sorry.

May she light up heaven the way she lit up earth.



All for one.

Overcoming Adversity Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally posted on Mommy Pie}

It’s 2 p.m., I’m sitting in a coffee shop surrounded by people. And the tears, they are streaming.

It’s funny, this community of ours. Call us Mommy Bloggers. Call us the Blogosphere. A powerful, and at times awe-inspiring collective voice. More often than not, a beautiful collective heart.

Our friendships forged over late night Tweets and Comments Sections, we find ourselves bonding with women we may never meet face-to-face. Yet, the invisible ties of the Internet that bind us are, inexplicably, many times, just as strong as the ties we feel with those we affectionately call our IRL (In Real Life) Friends.

Beginning today, I make no distinction between the two.

I’m no less happy for a Blog Friend when she lands a great job.

I’m no less sad when she loses it.

I don’t laugh less when she recounts her kid’s latest antics. (Or more times than not, her own.)

I don’t worry less about her during the tough times.

My heart doesn’t break less when she suffers staggering, unimaginable loss.

It’s 2 p.m., I’m sitting in a coffee shop surrounded by people. And the tears, they are streaming.