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.
(Donations to March of Dimes in Maddie’s name can be made here. Online memorial to Maddie is here. If Heather’s – Madeline’s mom – site doesn’t load when you click the link in her name, be patient; the server was overloaded and the site is being moved.)