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A Life Less Ordinary


I always kind of rolled my eyes whenever someone would say “but I just say them” in response to the news that said person had died. Well, I’d think, it’s not like Death sends a calling card to mention He’ll be popping by in the next couple of days. Someone was bound to see the deceased before they passed. And this time, lucky you, that someone happened to be you.

Today I woke up and learn of the passing of sweet Maddie Spohr. My initial response was an unpredictably predictable “but I JUST talked to Heather yesterday and Maddie was getting all kinds of feisty! She was GETTING BETTER.”

Maddie was going to marry my son, did I tell you that? Alex got engaged months (years?) ago when I first met Heather. My initial thought about Heather was “holy shit this chick is funny. I wish I could be so funny” and it was immediately followed by a “holy shit that baby is cute. I wish my baby was that cute.”

(Alex, Ben, EARMUFFS!)

So, I always thought of Maddie as my future-daughter-in-law. Honestly, I did. I loved her like my own and always devoured the pictures and anecdotes Heather posted regularly to her blog.

I can’t believe she’s gone. I just can’t believe it.

I spent today flitting aimlessly around the house, trying to focus on something, anything to get my mind off Maddie Spohr. And every time I’d start something, it would be dropped because I simply couldn’t focus on it. I roamed restlessly, tearfully from room to room in my house, wringing my hands and crying and wishing like hell that I could do something, anything for Heather and Mike. I nearly jumped a plane out to see them before I reminded myself that I probably could stand a shower before I got too close to anyone.

I sat most of the day here, at my computer where I sit now. My heart oozed out from my chest into a gooey pile on my keyboard as I wept, my eyes melting with grief. My chest hurt with every gasping breath I took, the oxygen searing my lungs and stinging painfully. I couldn’t stop the hurt.

I can’t stop the hurt.

Sleep, always an elusive mistress for your Aunt Becky, an insomniac of the most pathetic order, fails me and I feel like I’m going to explode at any second. Like my body has somehow filled with some sort of liquid pain and the slightest prick of pressure will send my insides outside to spatter my walls with guts and goo. I hurt. I physically hurt.

I did what I always do when I’m devastated, I made the pain physical. I did hundreds upon hundreds of sit-ups today, my muscles aching and sore after months of disuse. But the ache helped somehow. It felt as though I was punishing myself, making my pain real and raw and not just mental anguish.

And I should hurt. We ALL should hurt. All of us who knew Maddie and Heather and Mike should all hurt. We should hurt so badly that we cannot stand it. So badly that we don’t know if we can tolerate another second of this torture. Because if a life can be measured by the people whom it touched, the whole world is hurting now. Maddie touched us all.

We all will miss Maddie, the most striking child I have ever seen. We all will hurt for her. We will all hurt for the empty chasm that was left in her mom and dad when she passed. We will mourn for her, we will celebrate her, we will love her, and we will cherish her memory, raise up her life and hold her in our hearts. This will be her legacy.


Because Maddie Alice Spohr was here, dammit, and she mattered.

34 Comments to

“A Life Less Ordinary”

  1. On April 8th, 2009 at 10:16 pm Miss Grace Says:

    I keep crying and snotting all over my poor son, and half squeezing him to death. I don’t really know what else to do with myself.

    And reading. Reading everything lovely that everyone has to say about Maddie.

  2. On April 8th, 2009 at 10:24 pm Mrs.spit Says:

    I know. Hugs.

  3. On April 8th, 2009 at 11:55 pm kalakly Says:

    After coming so close to losing Cason only a few short days ago, this loss hit home, hard. It makes me reel, fall to my knees and crumble. It makes everyone seem so small, so helpless to defend against a cruel world that rips away the things, the people, that are the most precious, the most vulnerable, the most beautiful and the most loved. And I can’t even try to make sense of it because there is no sense to a death like hers.
    I ache for her parents and her family. I know it is a long, dark road ahead of them and I can only hope that the love that is pouring out for them in memory of their daughter is enough to help light the way.

  4. On April 9th, 2009 at 12:33 am Swirl Girl Says:

    my heart is breaking for this family and the many friends they have.

  5. On April 9th, 2009 at 6:16 am Ms. Moon Says:

    It’s amazing how one little girl, in such a short time, could capture the hearts of so many.

  6. On April 9th, 2009 at 6:16 am Badass Geek Says:

    The world will be hurting for a while for this.

  7. On April 9th, 2009 at 5:20 am Betts Says:

    I feel pain, and I didn’t even know them until the night Maddie was in the hospital and I saw posts on Twitter. I can’t even imagine what Heather and Mike are going through. It’s a parents worst nightmare, and I’m surprised one can even survive it. No doubt, they’ll come out on the other side changed forever.

  8. On April 9th, 2009 at 7:27 am Ames Says:

    I too am aching for them, I went out and made a donation to their March for Babies team in honor of Maddie. They were in my thoughts all night last night and I still can’t get them off of my mind.

  9. On April 9th, 2009 at 6:39 am andria Says:

    I just have no words for this. It’s unfathomable.

  10. On April 9th, 2009 at 6:40 am Kristine Says:

    Of course she mattered. Our hearts ache. I wish Heather and Mike all the strength in the world, the loss of a child is something no one should have to go through.

  11. On April 9th, 2009 at 7:08 am Susan Says:

    I just discovered this happened this morning. I don’t even know Heather and Mike, but I am absolutely devastated for them.

    This is a beautiful post.

  12. On April 9th, 2009 at 7:11 am habanerogal Says:

    Hugs and wishes to The Spohr family and all parents who have lost a child my heart goes out to you all

  13. On April 9th, 2009 at 7:24 am Stacey Says:

    It hurts. I can’t even imagine what they are going through. It’s hurts trying to imagine it. I feel so sad for them.

  14. On April 9th, 2009 at 8:07 am Kendra Says:

    My heart aches for her family. Maddie mattered. I never knew of her at all until yesterday, and now she has touched me. I will make a donation in her honor and will never, ever look at my own kids’ well being the same way.

  15. On April 9th, 2009 at 8:19 am kbrients Says:

    I did not know (of) her, however it seems that everyone that I visit today did and does miss her, and is thinking of her. I am sorry for everyones loss…

  16. On April 9th, 2009 at 8:43 am On Death and Dying « The Life You Choose Says:

    […] Death and Dying 9 04 2009 Aunt Becky is dealing with the lost of a […]

  17. On April 9th, 2009 at 9:03 am thelifeyouchoose Says:

    I posted about this on my blog but I wanted to comment as well.
    I am so sad for this family.
    And so sad for all of us who feel this as parents do.

    And I will hug my children a little tighter tonight.

  18. On April 9th, 2009 at 9:37 am Katie Says:

    I don’t know what to say. I feel like I should comment somewhere, even though I didn’t know (of) her until yesterday either – but so many did and were so clearly touched by this family. It’s devastating, I am so, so sorry for everyone’s loss.

  19. On April 9th, 2009 at 10:48 am Sarah Says:


  20. On April 9th, 2009 at 10:00 am CLC Says:

    My heart is breaking for her and her family. As childish as this statement seems, all I can think of is it is so unfair. I wish her family peace, but I know that it may never come.

  21. On April 9th, 2009 at 10:57 am tryingin2007 Says:


  22. On April 9th, 2009 at 11:38 am Coco Says:

    I am so sad and shocked and sorry.

    Maddie was a darling, and I am so sorry I had to become acquainted Heather and Mike this way.

    We do the March of Dimes March for Babies every year. This year, we will walk for Maddie.

  23. On April 9th, 2009 at 12:38 pm mumma boo Says:

    No words, only tears. Heather and Mike, family and friends, we’re praying for you.

  24. On April 9th, 2009 at 12:50 pm Stefanie Says:

    I’m sick sick sick over this. Your post was lovely. I’ve also been hitting the gym to try to not think for moments at a time.

  25. On April 9th, 2009 at 1:31 pm amy Says:

    I have typed…and erased 3 times now…I can’t find the words. I don’t know Heather and Mike, and I didn’t know Maddie, but my heart aches for them. I cannot get that sweet little girl’s face out of my mind. I am so sorry Heather and Mike.

  26. On April 9th, 2009 at 1:32 pm amy Says:

    Becky, As usual your writing is amazing. Thank you for sharing such an amazing tribute to this little girl’s life

  27. On April 9th, 2009 at 3:28 pm J Says:

    I found out at 3 am yesterday morning after checking Heather’s blog, hoping to hear that Maddie had turned a corner and gotten better. I didn’t sleep the rest of the night… hugged & squeezed my 19 month old too much yesterday morning… cried the whole rest of the day (AT WORK – i blamed it on pregnancy)… and then came home from work to find my own girl with a 103 fever. I can’t help but think how lucky I am that she can have a bad virus, and a fever, and all the rest of it, but not have it be life-threatening. I am ____so lucky____. It seems extremely unfair that Maddie had to be lost for me to see this.

    I also wanted to say that those of you who are posting your own thoughts on your blogs are helping the rest of us grieve too. I know that you actually *knew* Heather, whereas I was only a stalker of her blog… but I felt heartbroken and didn’t know how to handle it. Your writing about it, and opening it up to comments, helps me to feel less crazy about my horrible grief for a darling child I never saw in person. I couldn’t explain my grief to anyone who didn’t “get” the online blogosphere. So, thank you.

  28. On April 9th, 2009 at 5:53 pm Ginger Magnolia Says:

    Of course she mattered, they all do.

  29. On April 9th, 2009 at 8:18 pm stacie Says:

    It can still bring tears to my eyes when I think of her passing. It hits so close to home with me, too, especially when I think about how close we were to losing one or both of our boys. Then I think about the mere three week difference in their ages…and well, I cry again.

    Maddie will be missed, and the world has lost a spectacular treasure…

  30. On April 9th, 2009 at 11:13 pm Lola Says:

    So sad.

  31. On April 9th, 2009 at 11:36 pm Megan Says:

    I am so sad for Mike and Heather… thank you for posting this. All who knew Maddie are in my thoughts, as this story has broken my heart.

  32. On April 12th, 2009 at 3:40 am 'cuz I'm the mommy, that's why Says:

    My heart breaks for Mike and Heather. They had already been through so much. I pray that the Lord will lift up their spirits so that they may carry on. I know Maddie laughs with the angels now. For anyone who hasn’t found a link to donate to March of Dimes, I have a permanent link up at my site. Prayers for the Spohrs.

  33. On April 12th, 2009 at 4:09 pm Denise Says:

    There just aren’t words to properly express the loss of a sweet child. Maddie touched many.

  34. On April 16th, 2009 at 1:23 pm Cathy Says:

    Would you want to walk for the March of Dimes with the Naperville team on the 26th of April? Let me know!

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