April 9, 2009

God at Work

I had a different post to write today, it was all planned out. But I spent the day yesterday in a weird place. There were a lot of tears, and a lot of imagining, and a lot of reading. A lot of heartache.

I realized that I was witnessing one of THOSE moments in time. You know that moment when you know that you're involved in something important, that you're witnessing a higher power, something that gives life meaning? Like... voting for the first time. Or the first moment you hold a newborn baby and become a part of their life. Or when you look at a peacock in the sunlight. Or inventing an alternate energy source. The point is, something was happening that was slowing down your brain and making you think and appreciate the world we live in.

I had that moment when you realize that you are seeing God work. That we do what we do for a reason. That even in darkness there is hope. Yesterday morning, I woke up and went about my business. When I sat down to check over my feeds and see what was out there today, I noticed a name in the title of several posts. 'Maddie', 'Madeline Spohr', 'Madeline Alice' . I started reading, and I started crying. Heather Spohr's daughter and only child Maddie, who was only 17 months old, had died suddenly the night before.

I looked at Heather's tweets. Sixteen hours ago, there were jokes about cafeteria food. Twenty one hours ago, there was a sudden intubation. Twenty three hours ago, a Tweet with only a single word: Madeleine' and a link. Her daughter was gone. The fact is, for many parents (myself included), the mere imagining of losing a child will bring us to our knees. So trying to imagine ACTUALLY experiencing something like this? Unbearable.

And I cried. I cried at the pain, which started immediately, as I read through tribute posts one after the next. I read the voices of many people out there all crying and praying for the same person. We had something in common - we opened ourselves up on the internet. We had something else in common if we were parents, empathy and imagining pulling so hard at our heartstrings. And we mourned. We cried. We felt. We hugged our children extra tight. And we strained to lift up the people who needed it right now. Scary Mommy said it best: "Before I was a Mom, the loss of little girl I’d never met would have been tragic, but today I feel like I’ve been punched in the gut."

I cried. I cried because this doesn't just HAPPEN. People from all over the place reached out and gave what they could to ONE person who needed it AT THAT MOMENT. Countless prayers and words. Tears and heartaches. $20,000 in one day to Heather Spohr's Walk for Babies March of Dimes Walk sponsorship. Over $1500 to Heather and Mike personally to help with the medical and funeral expenses in this already trying time. This is truly a miracle. If we could all support each other that way in the world, how much good could we do?

The day went on. There were more tweets. There were more posts. There were photos. There were people everywhere helping in any way they could. I spent the day refreshing Twitter and Google Reader and contributing, re-tweeting, whatever I could do to contribute a tiny bit of love at this little girl's family. At the end of the day, at A Mom, Two Boys had set up a tribute page and listing of posts about Maddie, and it held 199 entries.

I know that there are a lot of people out there who think the internet is BAD. They think that everyone on there is lying, cheating, or trying to hurt you in some way. They could never conceive of the concept of dating someone you met on the internet. But yesterday, I saw God working there. We don't have community like we used to. I don't know any of my neighbors by name, and we rarely talk. We have friends in life who don't understand why we choose to open up to strangers online.

We do it because it is our community. In my generation, there is a group of mothers who gather online, seeking out other mothers with whom they can be completely themselves, without worry of how it will feel to look that person in the face next time at the grocery store. When a child is hurt, people rally. Yesterday, hundreds of people online reached out across countries to lift a family up.

You can say what you want about the kind of people you find online. You can imply that those aren't real friendships, or that we don't connect the same way we do with people face to face. But the kind of people I find online? I just hope that if something were to happen like this to me, that I would not be alone, that I would have so many prayers coming to me. It's amazing. And I thank God for it.

Here are the posts that showed up in my feedreader yesterday supporting the Spohrs:

"April Showers...April Tears: Madeline Alice Spohr November 11, 2007-April 7, 2009"
Barking Mad


Anonymous said...

That was beautiful. And so very true!

Mimi said...

Amen, amen! I have found so much support & love on this internet.

I have made true friend & have felt God's presence deeper in my life because of the people I have met & sites I have found.

Scary Mommy said...

I can't believe how much of an impact the death of a little girl I never *really* knew has had on me. I too, spent a good deal of yesterday crying for Heather and Matt. It is just too painful to even comprehend...

Auds at Barking Mad said...

Beautiful Rachael.

I'm not only still aching with pain for Heather and Mike, but absolutely amazed at the constant outreach by the blogging and social media community for this family. It's truly a beautiful thing.

Maggie's Mind said...

Seeing such inspiration grow like wildfire from such tragedy is so touching. I hope it gives the family some measure of comfort in an otherwise horrific time. Their little girl touched the hearts of so many and may save others by doing so. Rest in peace, little Maddie.