After I got my driver’s license, it suddenly took me longer to drive home than it did to walk. I’d drive by my boyfriend’s house or along the route my friends on the cross country team took during practice. Even when I didn’t have places to cruise by, I enjoyed car time. I’d blast my music and sing along at the top of my lungs. The freedom of driving was addicting.
Now that I’m so much older, I want to spend as little time in the car as possible. Solo trips in the car are hard…without someone to talk to, my brain goes to dark and difficult places. Before I go anywhere, I study maps and traffic information and plot out the shortest route from A to B. There is only one exception to this rule, and that is when my route will take me down 15th Street.
On 15th Street stands a remodeled brick structure six stories tall. That building is a hospital, and in a room overlooking the street, Madeline died.
Too many times in the last sixteen months I have driven down that street and had to stop at a traffic light. One specific traffic light. When sitting at the intersection, you can see the window of the room she was in.
I can’t look.
I can’t not look.
In the few seconds I am at the light my heart races. And my mind drifts to those places I don’t want to go. To the things I don’t want to remember.
And sometimes, I imagine her still in that room, and if I would just stop the car and go up she’d be there.
But she is not. And when the light changes I have to drive on.
So that is why I take the long way instead of driving down 15th street. I will sometimes go miles out of the way to avoid it. I suppose we all have places in our lives like that, don’t we? The places that are best ignored? I know I can’t be alone in that.
Annie Y says:
I have a very hard time driving past a cemetery in Green Bay where the remains of a man I truly loved lie beneath the ground. I do whatever it takes to avoid that city block stretch of engraved stones so I don’t relive the pain.
I feel for you.
I hate this for you but you are such a inspiration. I hope you and Annie have a spectacular trip in NYC!!! Blessings
Not that they compare, but after my car accident in 2007(?) I wasn’t able to drive down the 2 lane road where I crashed. Slowly, but surely and only during the day time, I started driving down. It was weird to see in the Spring, the spot my car was in the ditch being covered with green vines, but as the seasons change, the hole becomes visable again.
Also, the few times I’ve been back to one of my childhood homes, I can’t help but pass the house at the end of the cove and remember the guy who hung himself in his garage so his wife would see him when she came home.
No, you are not alone.
I totally get it.
You write so vividly, Heather. I am so sorry for you both.
Think of you often.
My 4 month old nephew died . It was so sudden and so very not necessary. Thoughts daily of…this could of been prevented. The ONLY street to get to her house is backed up to the cemetery. She moved. It was just too much day after day. When she would leave for work when she would come home. She could not escape it..then again..really in our hearts…we can never escape it.
Thank you for sharing your heart with us.
heather- (((hugs))) we had our girls cremated at cabot & sons in pasadena. i can’t drive by there- it’s too hard. when we lived in pasadena, i found myself doing everything i could to avoid going by that building- including driving miles out of my way, just so i wouldn’t have to see the outside of that building and relive the memories of that place.
you have so many wonderful memories with maddie- (and of course there should be millions MORE you didn’t get a chance to make)- i can understand why you wouldn’t want to drive by that building and relive the hardest, most painful moments of your life. it’s called survival. you don’t have a choice but to go forward and live life- and really, that’s the hardest thing in the world to do.
thinking of maddie and wishing she were here with you now…
Hi Heather. You are not alone. My sister, 7 months old, and my mom were in a car accident and my sister was killed instantly, my mom survived. It happened at an intersection right by our home and could not be avoided. We had to sell our house and move because the pain was too much. Coincidentally today, Aug 5th, would have been her 21st birthday. As a family we still wonder what if…. 20 years later.
hugs to you, Mike and Annie.
You’re not alone. On July 1st, 1999 I lost a dear friend; Raina Bybee, to a drunk driver. To this day I can’t drive the length of Midland Road in Poway and even driving over it I get goosebumps and I can hear and sometimes see the sirens. It brings me back to that night when I was at my aunt’s and heard the crash and saw the car. I wish I could bring Madeline back for you.
Same feelings here. Since my mom suddenly passed in Feb this year in a certain hospital: I never go downtown. I avoid that way at all cost. Even taking the freeway in the same route I had to take there is hard. I still wish I was driving that way because she was there, alive. I also hate driving now period if it’s going to take too long. I have to carry a make-up bag. I’m so sick of crying all the time. But the alone & quiet in the car is unyielding. It takes soooo much out of you. And totally wastes mascara. ~Hugs~
No. You are truly not alone. I try to avoid at all costs the stretch of road my best friend was killed at.
Oddly enough, every once in a blue moon I go there on purpose to re-live it. Like I could maybe think of someway it could have all been different. Then I avoid it again.
Nope. You’re not alone.
You’re not alone. My dad committed suicide when I was 11. I can’t drive by the gas station near my mom’s house without remembering sitting outside at the pump forcing myself to eat a cupcake while my mom gased up the car to go to his funeral. There are a ton of places associated with that time, but for some reason, the stupid gas station sticks in my mind above the others. Thinking of you, as usual.
Big Bear. Thankfully, there are two ways up the mountian. I can’t ever again take the one road where we had our car accident. That accident changed my little girl forever (brain injury) and I hate that road.
You’re not alone in that. This doesn’t compare but my daughter was in the NICU for 3 weeks. Afterwards we would have to go back to that hospital for doctor check-ups, not just for her but my primary doctor was there as well.
Everytime we went I would panic even when the appt. wasn’t for her, fearing that they would find something wrong, she would have to go back into the NICU, and we’d have to leave without her. And this was after she had a clean bill of health when she got out of the NICU. My panic and fear got so bad, we changed doctors that were at another hospital.
Lauren D says:
You are not alone sweetheart. My dear friend was killed in an accident in April. I have to drive through that intersection every day on the way into work. It took me months to be able physically get myself to go near it, I too took the long way.
I’m so sorry you have to go through such heartache.
I remember after my daughter passed away in the PICU of Children’s hospital here in Seattle. One of the doctors told me that one day, I would want to come back. To see where she died. I told him no, I would never feel that way. He told me that time would take care of it and that yes, I would want to go back. I’m coming up on 4 years. I’ve never wanted to go back.
I still cannot drive down a certain road in Dallas without feeling like I’m simultaneously going to throw up and cry. There are those places that hold such strong memories that we cannot even begin to deal with them in the time allotted by a car ride past the scene, and I know that I’d go to any lengths to avoid my “spot”.
Here’s to hoping that eventually, the long drive around becomes easier.
I totally get this. For me it is the house in which I was abused. On the one hand I wish to never see it again, but on the other, I still drive past it when I am visiting the area.
For me, it is an attempt to rationalise and deal with what happened to me in that house: to remind myself of where I have come from. And perhaps more importantly, where I am going.
My husband spent several months at a nearby hospital not too long ago. I got to know all of the best routes to get to the hospital, depending on the time of day. Juggling his medical issues and our two small children, while portraying an upbeat attitude and not giving into the fear was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. By the grace of God and probably a little luck, he’s home now and doing well. But, I still shudder a little when we head downtown to go out to dinner on date night, b/c we drive the rush hour route.
My mother spent most of the last months of 2009 and early months of 2010 in the hospital for her cancer. She passed away this Jan. The hospital is on are way to home, and we see it everyday..sometimes i even get out of the car and stand outside looking at the window of the room she was in, thinking she is still there. It hurts to see that building where she fought for her life, and eventually lost.
You are not alone in this. We are with you in your darkest places and grief.
catherine lucas says:
Yes, we all have places like that. I for one can NOT go to the cemetary where my dad’s ashes are… I feel that he is with me, no matter where I go, and the few times I go back to Belgium I pass by the cemetery, but can not bring myself to stop the car and go look for the place… I often feel bad about it, but then, people all mourn and have losses, and we all have to deal with it the best way we can… There are no rules or boundaries on grieving or the way it is done… To me it sounds so natural to have your reaction Heather of wanting to see it but also not wanting to see it. No matter what or how, it will always be painful, you can’t stop thinking about the one you lost… So no, you are not alone!
Rebecca Duncan says:
We lost my MIL 2 years ag and my husband works next to the hospital where she died. It took me so long to figure out why the stress and anxiety about being ‘on time’ for work was coming from. No matter how early he left he was in a panic. Finally after 12 months he broke and told me if he left mins later that he would have to drive past the hospital. Now I get it. I wish he had told me sooner.
Oh Heather. My heart goes out to you. I know that has to be so hard.
I have a similar spot. The hospital where my sweet Caleb was born still is on my way home from work every day. The labor and delivery ward faces the main road and I, too, can see the room where I gave birth to my lifeless son. I drive by it daily, but every time I stop and look and it takes me back to being in that room almost 2 years ago. I hate that place, but at the same time I am so attached to it that I feel almost protective over it.
Yes I have a place like that, 3 days before christmas 2006 my dad (who is a gardener) had an epileptic fit when gardening- sadly he was building a fire at the time to get rid of some garden waste, and fell back onto the fire for roughly a few minutes. He was working at an organic farm a couple of miles from home and I can’t go past there without trying not to cry.
My dad luckily survived but he was in the ICU 200 miles away for about 3 months, he had 39% burns, most of them to the muscle and bone and had countless graphs, operations etc. He somehow got home that day in a daze and I was still living at home and was alone at the time. Having to look at my poor dad all burnt still makes me gasp for air. And the thought of him in that fire makes me avoid that farm at all costs..
It had a different outcome than your story and I wish there was something i, we could do to change it. Its really not fair.
Mary Ann says:
Thank you for helping me see that I’m not the only one. It’s not something I have ever shared with anyone because I thought I was the only one who felt that way. Driving past the hospital my father spent most of the last months of his life in, gives me those same feelings. I spent so much time there, that I too imagine that he’s still there, and each time I drive by it hurts so much to see the light on “his room”. It still makes me cry sometimes.
Heidy Martinez says:
I delivered my son in NYU Medical Center in NY and that’s where he spend his 10 hours that he lived for. I now work for that hospital so I have to go through the same doors I went through went I left the hospital without a baby in my arms. I also had Xavier in the same hospital so is kind of bitter sweet because I also think about how it was when Xavier was born there.
When my daughter was in that horrible car accident it was weeks before I could drive past the scene where the tree still bears the scars four years later. This is no easy feat because it was not far from our home. What made me do it finally, was I wanted to do SOMETHING that might reverse the horrible damage done to my daughter in that accident. I remember driving in the opposite direction of when she came home that night, hoping to reverse the bad karma I felt from that tree… and I cursed it as I slowly drove by (childish, I know). Do you know, she began the slow process of waking from the coma that night.
I still have to pass the damn tree with it’s scratches and indents… and I still curse it now and then. Now, without fists clenched and palpitations.
The way I see it, when you become a parent , there is no turning back… your life is forever wonderful and painful and full of worry from that point on.
You are SO not alone.
My mom died a few weeks ago. She loved Chinese food and was excited about this little drive thru Chinese restaurant they were building near us. We talked about eating there when it was finished.
One Friday on the way to get groceries, I saw it had finally opened. I called my parents home to ask if I could bring her lunch. My dad said she was sleeping. She never woke up, and died later that evening.
I hate that little restaurant. I get palpitations, shaky, breathing increases, etc. All the places I go for groceries and most of the restaurants we eat at surround it. My sister says I need to go eat there and try to get past it, but I can’t.
so sorry. you are definitely not alone and i hope that knowing that somehow makes it a tiny bit less painful.
cindy w says:
You’re not alone. There’s a La Quinta motel in my hometown where a childhood friend committed suicide. I try to avoid driving past it whenever I’m in town visiting my parents. My guess is that your feeling is like that, times ten million.
I haven’t been through anything even remotely similar to what you (and so many of your readers) have been through but there are a few places in my town that grip my heart. The spot where I had my minor car accident still makes me tense up. The restaurant where a high school friend was murdered makes me feel shaky. You are not alone…although I do not truly know how you feel. I’m so sorry…
My heart goes out to you Heather! Thank you for touching so many with your beautiful words. I read your blog every day and consider you a “friend”. I told my fiance I needed to add you, Mike and Annabel to my guest list for our wedding next spring!! (will you travel to Illinois!!) haha! Words can’t describe how sorry I am for your loss and the pain you feel. I am a nurse and have four children…. your always in my prayers!
I can’t go certain places, too many memories, too much pain. I had a breakdown in WalMart last week when I saw someone I hadn’t seen since before I lost one of my babies. Emotional scenes in WM are not treated kindly, so I’m avoiding that place. Hubby can do the shopping. You are not alone, it’s nice knowing that I’m not alone in feeling the way I do. thank you.
You’re so not alone…even if it feels like you are.
The story I’m going to share is IN NO WAY meant to be a fair comparison to the pain and loss you’re experiencing. It’s only meant to show you that, yes, other people cope and react in similar ways……….
We found out, 2 years ago, that our beloved bulldog (Page) was riddled with cancer. We had her put to sleep on August 3rd, 2008. For quite some time after that, I couldn’t drive past the animal hospital where she died. And when I did, I felt the knot in my stomach. That feeling has faded a bit…but I still look at the hospital with a feeling of great sadness at how her life ended. She was supposed to grow old with us…not die of cancer at the age of 10.
You’re not alone, girlio.
I’ve moved from cities before because they were too heavy with memories not nearly as painful as that one of yours.
My grandparent’s house. I was very close to them. It broke me when my grandmother died. I cannot go down the street that their house is on. I can’t deal with the fact that another family lives there now. It would ruin me if I drove past it and saw that something had changed. I need it to stay exactly the way it is in my memories.
I used to walk past a certain restaurant and lounge on my way to/from work. It’s a charming place with a leafy courtyard in front surrounded by wrought iron fences. A couple of years ago a young man was beaten to death in front of the restaurant. His killers were a group of young men who had just come from a funeral (for a young friend of theirs). The horrible irony of the situation left such an impression on me that I never walk there anymore. I didn’t know any of the parties but I am haunted by the tragedy nonetheless. Some realities are so horrible to contemplate that we do our best to avoid them entirely. Too bad it doesn’t always work…
My place of avoidance? The town where I was born – where my family is from, where I spent most of my childhood summers.
I’m from a small town in Mississippi, on the Gulf Coast. I have good memories from there, with my grandparents. But mostly my memories suck. There are things that happened that have SCARRED me, things I’ve been (and probably should go back) to therapy for. My great-grandfather and my grandmother died in the same hospital, for reasons unknown and unrelated to the reason they were actually IN the hospital. My great-grandmother’s house caught on fire mysteriously one morning, with her in the bed. I was super close to all of my grandparents and these experiences BROKE me. Even the trip to Mississippi is horrendous – it makes me flash back to riding with my family (we left at 11p) the February night earlier this year when my grandmother died. I flash back to the sound of the phone ringing and seeing my aunt’s number and knowing exactly what she was going to say before she picked up. The blackness of the road, the numbness that I felt. The flatbed that was in the middle of a lane that we could have hit. I can’t do it.
I just can’t do it.
I understand completely how you feel.
Some memories are better left where they are, at bay, so the good ones are the ones we hold on to and cherish.
I’m so sorry that you have to even plan your routes around 15th street. We all miss Maddie.
XOXO from GA,
The hospital where Jim was for two weeks before he died. It’s slightly eased because that’s also where Hadley was born, but when I go to my ob in an office building attached to the hospital, I start reliving those weeks. It makes the annual visit even LESS pleasant!
No, not alone, never alone.
Mine is my dad’s old house. He passed away in that house, he took his own life in that house. And, now I just can’t look at it. I can’t even let myself conjure up an image of it in my mind without my heart racing out of a my chest. I don’t have to see it often since I don’t live in the same area (not even the same country) anymore, but whenever I visit my grandmother I have to see it, she lives right across the street. In a few weeks I’ll be seeing it, it stops my breath to imagine it.
Love and hugs. You are not alone.
Heather Ben says:
no, not alone
You are definitely not alone, there are many places I can not go for fear of the memories. So I too drive miles out of my way to avoid the pain.
Julie B says:
You are not alone. Not that it compares in the least, but for me, that “place” is our local Emergency Room and the one room that I can’t step foot in. The room where I found out, at 19 years old, that the boy I’d dated for the previous 4 years would be headed 5 hours away to Birmingham, AL for a heart transplant for his very suddenly sick heart. And at 19, a girl isn’t equipped to deal with something like that.
Now, with a son who has seizures and frequents said ER; I still pray without ceasing that he doesn’t ever end up in “THE” room when in the ER.
I know you’ve said before that you feel Mike is great writer and you are a great talker, but I’ve gotta tell ya – YOU really are a great writer. My favorite post of all time is “My Little Maddie Moo” but I always “feel” so deeply for you through your words. Madeline and Annabel are both SO beautiful:)
I can’t even imagine how hard it must be. XOXO
No we all have those places, places that we can never go again. Places that make our heart break and scare us to the point of not wanting to go on. For me its going home to the house I was raised in and now even the town. I was brutally raped, beaten and abused by my dad for 8 years of my life. It started when I left it was just the house, then the street now the town. My heart races, my mind shatters, my pulse races and then its full blown panic attack. While mine pain is nothing like yours I cannot imagine you living with it day after day. No one should ever have to lose their own child and bury them and if I could I would endure my pain over and over to take your pain away because its far much worse. I read your blog to follow your life and family and to hope to gain some strength to be someone like you. I admire you and hope that I could get past my pain and move on.
Oh, Heather. This breaks my heart. But, you are absolutely not alone.
I can only imagine how hard it must be. You are strong Heather. I am so very sorry. Sending you lots of hugs and prayers.
Oh, Heather. You are most certainly not alone in that. I have a city that represents that to me. I fled as soon as I could. And I cringe at the mere mention of the city name. Someday I hope to have healing around that, go back with my husband, make a happy memory there. But I’m not there yet. Seventeen years down the road and I’m still not there.
I have a ‘spot’ like that too. A traffic light, even. The memories tied to my spot aren’t nearly as painful as yours, but I will never be able to drive past it without going right back to that moment: When I went into premature labour with our twins we had to drive to the hospital in the middle of the night with my water having just broken. I knew it was my daughter’s water that had broken, and I hadn’t felt her move since the night before. I could feel her brother, but not her.
Close to the hospital we had to wait at a traffic light and it took forever. There were no other cars around and we just stood there waiting. After a couple of minutes (it felt like hours, but for all I know might have only been seconds) I told my husband to just DRIVE ALREADY because I was so afraid my daughter was dying inside me right then and there…
When we got to the hospital it took them over 15 minutes to find her heartbeat. We were sure we had lost her. And I couldn’t help thinking it was because we stopped and waited at that stupid traffic light. Eventually they did find her heartbeat, and she was born safely 12 hours later, but I will never forget the way I felt when I thought I’d lost her.
Whenever I go past that light, I get that sinking feeling in my stomach again, feel that pain in my heart. Even knowing she is alive and well now (and having her in the car with me, because the only time we ever go there again is when we go to NICU follow-up appointments or speech therapy for the twins).
Thing is, I hate that light with a vengeance, but I kind of need to drive past it every once in a while, too. Need to remember, need to feel it again. As if going back there reminds me how lucky we are. How close we came to losing the most precious thing in the world, but how far off from doing so we finally ended up. I know I don’t need a reminder, because I am aware of it every minute of every day, but still.
Maybe my spot isn’t really that much like yours. It’s a different kind of spot. A ‘want to avoid but not really’-spot. As I said before, the memory isn’t nearly as painful as yours. We didn’t lose our daughter. She still had a long hard road ahead of her once she was born, but we got to take her home and she’s still here. I wish with all my heart I could say the same for you and Maddie…
I have never commented on your blog, but, have been following it for a couple years. I have grieved, cried and laughed with you the whole time. I now find myself 3 months out from my husband dying by suicide. The whole “can’t go by there thing”… I sometimes can’t even stand to be in my own home which feels like a museum to my husband. I am getting it to a managable medium. ..rearranging things, moving pictures from here to there…etc. But, sometimes it feels like the walls are closing in…. and I will NEVER be able to stay in the name brand hotel in which he ….well you know. I’m so sorry for your loss and sorry I haven’t said so before.
Oh Heather..I’m so, so sorry for your pain. And like everyone here has said, you are definitely not alone. Again, my story does not compare with what you and your family have been through but for me, the place I can not go to is the building that I was working in the day that I found out that my father had suddenly passed away. My parents lived two hours away and a family friend had come at lunch time that day to make sure that I had someone there with me when I heard the news. Just seeing him there, I knew before he even said anything that my dad was gone..just knew. To this day, I have not gone back to that building and never will if I can help it.
You, Mike, Maddie and Annie are in my thoughts and prayers.
Trisha Vargas says:
No Heather you are not alone in that. I cannot drive by the intersection where my Dad died either. I will avoid it at all costs. We go there one time a year to put fresh flowers on the lollipop sign at the side of the road reminding people to “drive safely”. That is the extent of the 528 and Consulate Dr for me, once a year is enough.
I would avoid 15th St even if it meant adding hours to my trip too.
((((HUGS)))) from Florida
You are not alone.
I cannot even drive down the road where my siblings and son are buried. The idea of seeing the funeral home makes my throat feels like it is going to close up and the thoughts. The thoughts go to places that no one wants their thoughts to go but they go there. Over and over and over again.
Those thoughts can make me want to drink therefore I refuse to go down the road. My sanity is worth more than a few shaved off minutes of time.
You aren’t alone at all. For me it’s a stretch of canyon where my dearest cousin was hit by a car while she was on her bike. And that doesn’t even begin to compare with what you’ve gone through. But it’s like that one place is soaked in memory. But I guess it’s like that for happy places as well . . . little flashes of remembering when I hold objects or go to a certain restaurant.
I am so sorry. Nothing but (((hugs))) for you today and every other day.
You are not alone in that feeling. You are as far as your tragic event but I have my event. There is a place that I get off the freeway and take side streets to get around sometimes. I have had to go by a few times and I just look away. There is something that stole my childhood, my innocence, my self esteem, my life…..for a long time! I can not let that rule me anymore. It is hard but it has been 18 years for me. I pray for you as you have a different road than I. I pray for Mike and Annabel as well. Thanks for sharing your story and your family. You have an amazing family and you are an amazing mom!
Marti from Michigan says:
My nephew died 22 years ago as a 3-month-old infant due to SIDS. He was at the babysitter’s when he died and my sister was at work. Although they have moved to a different city now, it is still difficult to drive by where the babysitter lives. I don’t have to drive by there very often, but occasionally I do……
We all understand how you feel Heather. I still wish I was a wizard and could zap Maddie right back into your lives.
You are not alone. ((Hugs))
Everyday to and from work for 5.5 years I had to drive past the cemetery where my brothers are buried.
It was a relief when I switched jobs.
13 years later and I still avoid the street that my younger sister’s car accident was on, she was 15. I will spend an extra hour in traffic on my way home just to avoid it. I hate that a place, not associated to her life in any other way, can do that to me. Even after all this time. No, you are no alone. All of us who have “that home/street/hospital/place” are with you.
Freckle on the Nose of Life's Complexion says:
Unfortunately, as you well know, sometimes there’s no escaping the associations we have with places, sounds, smells, etc.
OOhh Sweetie….you are definitely NOT alone in this, nor will you ever be!!! Grief is a messy process that hurts you to your very core!! None of us understand why Maddie was taken so soon. It just isn’t fair!
Someone once said “Time Heals A Wounds” but sometimes….it just doesn’t!!!
You’re certainly not alone in that! While I don’t have the same sort of memories we all have a place or a person that rocks what has become our safe zone that it’s impossible to face them/it. So we do whatever it takes to surive and we avoid them (if it’s a person and it’s me you’ll even go as far as to hide behind the huge body builder type dude in the grocery store, causing him to look at you like you’re an idiot rather than face the man who made you feel 6″ tall for 2 years).
Sending hugs and prayers your way!
Oh Heather, believe me, you are not alone in that! I know what you mean totally!
A friend of mine was killed in a car accident during my senior year of high school. She was 16. It has been years and I still cannot drive past the scene of the accident. I too will go miles out of my way to avoid it.
She died on Martin Luther King Day. I will never forget getting that phone call from another girlfriend. To this day, I still get anxious around MLK Day. I can’t deal with it. I’m instantly thrown back in time.
I was 18 when this happened. I’m 31 now. And I still haven’t forgotten.
You are definitely not alone. I have these feelings too.
Please don’t think that Madeleine will ever be forgotten. I never met your little girl, and yet, I think of her often. I hope that Kristin’s mom knows she’s not forgotten either.
I can’t even use the same intersection where I had a car accident and nobody was hurt, an incident that is so very minor compared to your experiences. It makes perfect sense that you’d avoid that intersection.
I think it says something about my denial that I commented about a car accident, when I haven’t even been back East in four years, because the last time I flew home, it was to help make the decision to take my father off of life support after a stroke.
Almost 5 years ago my husband told me a secret. We sat in out garden tub taking a bath together as we always did. He told me he was and alcoholic. He told me he was sexually abused as a child. He told me we had $50k in credit card debt. That day I learned that half of my marriage had been based on lies. Doesn’t compare to the death of your baby. But I became a different person that day. Our lives were forever changed. The last 5 years has been Hell for the most part. But we have found our way back. Still every time I bathe my boys I think of the pain that day. My days of relaxing in the tub are gone. Seems so silly.
Hi Mrs. Spohr,
I’ve been reading your blog daily for about a year now and I’ve never commented or emailed you or sent you something. I’ve wanted to, but it’s never happened. This wasn’t exactly the way that I wanted to comment, but here it goes.
I feel for you. A few days ago, I re-read your post ‘My Little Maddie Moo’ and watched the tribute video. I found myself laughing, smiling, and crying over who Maddie is, and the pain that is felt since she is now gone. It’s not fair, and I don’t think that it ever will be. You have dozens of people telling you that you’re not alone, and you aren’t. Even if I haven’t had these experiences, I’m telling you that you’re not alone. There are so many people who care for your family who only know all of you through this blog, or through commenting, or emailing. And yet, your family has made an imprint on many of our hearts.
Now, on a slightly different note. For those who are saying that their pain doesn’t even compare to that of Mrs. Spohr… I don’t necessarily think that’s true. My reasoning? Everyone has their own experiences in life that they have to battle. Everyone has their own pain, and how that pain affects one person may not be how it affects another person. But we’re all who we are because of our experiences. We’re stronger, or smarter, saddened, or broken. Or a combination of the four, plus a host of other emotions. Either way, these experiences are our own and we each go through pain. So yes, losing a child might be different from losing a friend, depending on who you are. But, either way, the pain is still ours. And since it’s ours, that pain is very real to us, even if other people might not understand where we’re coming from. Sorry it’s a little ramble-y, but that’s just my two cents.
You are not alone in this.
Oh, Heather, I’m so sorry.
My little sister, Sabrina, experiences that same dread. For three years she’s been haunted by the images of that fateful Friday afternoon. She was driving home from work when she couldn’t help but notice a nervous looking elderly woman on the side of the road. Sabrina slowed down, curious as to why this woman appeared to be in a hurry.
In as quick of a blink, that woman was no longer standing on the side of the road. Her face was pressed against Sabrina’s windshield. Her petite frame mangled before falling to the ground.
The woman was airlifted to a hospital where she was soon pronounced dead.
My sister will live with this guilt forever, even though she was not in the wrong (we learned later the elderly woman was medicated, causing irrational behavior). And she claims she will never drive down that road again.
My life is mapped with those kinds of places, too.
Yep, I have those places. You are not alone.
I’ve moved away from so many places…running away…not I’m so far from them it’s hard to say if I’ll ever get back.
I did cry passing the cemetery where my mom’s parents and brother are buried on our drive up here.
And I nearly barfed when I washed my hands in a restaurant restroom that unexpectedly had the same exact soap as the NICU had.
Ashley Parker says:
You are not alone in this, as evidenced from all the other comments, but I thought I’d add my experience too. My grandmother died in my parent’s home, in the room next to mine. It took me years before I could get a good night’s sleep in my bedroom when I went home, because I remember laying there the night she died listening to her struggle to breathe. I also get sick to my stomach when I drive past her house, which was sold and is now rented out and looks awful, because she loved that house so much, and I spent so much of my childhood in that. The first time I heard Miranda Lambert’s “The House that Built Me” in my car, I broke down and sobbed.
Much love to you, dear. xoxo.
This is so hard to write but I will try. The building has been remodeled, so maybe sometime in the future it will again be transformed. If at all possible you could put in a request for that window of the room. If you are allowed to at some point take possession of that window you could have a special painting of your choice put on that window’s glass with framing and have a forever keepsake of your Maddie’s last place on this Earth while she was alive. When I read sixteen months I thought in another month Maddie’s 17th month of being gone will be equal to the time you had with her and that breaks my heart, she should still be with you. Hope I did not step over any lines with the window suggestion. Maybe someday you can make something good out of that window.
Dear Heather, there is a high-rise building I have to drive past very often in my small german town. My dear friend and neighbor Steph jumped off it two years ago and a friend (who is a cop) told me exactly what had happened..
but I just can’t avoid this route, it would take too much time. There is a traffic light, and every single time I have to look up to that 12th floor and wonder.. But I think it is incomparable to your situation.
I read your lines every day. You are strong and awesome!
(please excuse my non-native English ;-))
Laber of Love says:
You are not alone-in this, or in life.
Mary @ Holy Mackerel says:
I have a few: the children’s hospital, where our son was diagnosed and went through hell; a certain intersection from which you can see the room in which my dad died. Memories aren’t always sweet.
You are not alone, Heather.
You are not alone at all Heather. I have a whole city I refuse to ever go back to, the memories of what happened there are too painful and haunt me enough as it is. So I vowed to myself I will never set foot back in that place. We all do what we have to do to cope with the life we have been dealt.
I’m sorry, Heather. You are not alone in this. It’s so hard to see places where painful things have happened to us. Sending you big hugs.
This in no way compares, but I lost my 14 year old little dog last year to kidney failure. The crazy routes that I have driven to avoid that vet. is insane. If I do have to drive by I never ever ever look at that building. Tonight for the first time there was road construction and I actually used their parking lot for a short cut, I could not believe I was able to do that. Weird that I would get home and you would write about the same thing that I just overcame today. My memory of my little one is not in that building anymore, she is here with me now…. for always.
I have painful places, too, some related to sorrow and one related to the death of someone I was extremely close to.
One thing I have noticed about the intersection of place and time is that often new memories can be superimposed over old ones. They do not replace them or even soften them, but they do change the character of these places, at least for me.
And so I have made a point of returning to these places whenever I have felt able to do so, especially if there was some possibility of changing how I remember it, of adding or taking something away, of making it into something more than only a place of sorrow and loss. It reminds me that while I cannot change what has already happened, I can change how I deal with it. It is a small consolation, but it does console.
Love from a stranger.
Ashley Hast says:
I was driven to Carl’s Jr. after the most *horrible* thing ever known to me, personally, happened. I will never go there again.
I should hate the hospital where my first daughter was stillborn, but that’s not the place I avoid. It’s Chinatown in D.C., and a certain restaurant there. It’s where I last felt her move, just after doing the labor and delivery tour at the hospital. I was scheduled for a c-section three days later.
I, too, have a place that is unpleasant for me. I was at a stoplight next to it today. I am grateful for your post and the subsequent comments.
For us it is an entire state. We will not go back to Arizona without monumental reason.
5 years ago I went to AZ with family to help my sick grandmother. After weeks she died on 7/8. Two days later on 7/10 my perfectly healthy lil boy was stillborn due to me having complications. I spend 9 days in the hospital during this time 1 more family member made an ER visit. So although logically I know the state did nothing I still won’t go back.
There is a large amount of memories and thoughts I refuse to face, and going there will bring them all forward.
Sensibly Sassy says:
You are definitely not alone in this. And by sharing you are letting so many others know that they are not alone either. Thank you.
Mrs. Wilson says:
It’s been sixteen months already? Wow. Seems like such a short time ago, yet forever ago.
You’re definitely not the only one to avoid bad-memory places.
When my Grandma got really sick we turned the dining room at my grandparents house into a sick room. She died in that room surrounded by her family, loved, painfree, not afraid. And even though her death was mostly a positive experience (she’d been so sick. She was sooooo ready) no one can bare to be in that room anymore. Grandpa keeps it shut off from the rest of the house and we no longer have lovely family dinners in there; my little couin no longer scouts around the cabinets in there looking for treasures; we don’t leave the door open and the window open so that we can call from each other outside the house into the kitchen.
We can’t. It hurts too much.
I used to cry every time I drove by the cemetery my grandma is at. And it’s practically in my backyard. I would go and sit at her grave and talk to her. I probably looked a sight, a young girl sitting on a towel at a cemetery just talking to a grave.
Every time I drive by it now I don’t cry, but I do blow a kiss towards her grave. I miss her so much.
I have a hard time at hospitals too, because she was in one. She didn’t die in a hospital she died at home. I wasn’t there, I was at college. I can’t go to the house because too many memories. She lived with my cousins (her son and his wife and their kids). I can’t go inside. When I pick up my cousin to go out somewhere, I wait in the car. I just can’t bring myself to go into the house. It’s been 7 years. I still can’t go in there.
omg. 16 months.
I had my first child, a girl, June 16th and it terrifies me how much I love her. I knew that I would, but I did not expect to be so afraid all the time. I gave heard other mothers say that having children is forever having your heart walk around outside of your body. I think that is true.
I started reading your website after your daughter passed away and I have shed many tears while reading about her. I have felt the weight of how unfair it is that she is gone. She deserved to grow up. She deserved to live and experience all that her life would have been. Since my daughter was born there have been times when I’ve watched her and my mind has drifted to your Maddie. I could never know how you feel, but I know enough to appreciate every single minute with my child. I am grateful for every second of her life and a lot of that is because of you. And Maddie.
I guess what I’m saying is that there is someone (a lot of someones I believe) who you & your family have touched. My heart aches for you and I keep you all in my prayers.
hi… i love your writing… it touches me. you are not alone. another blogger i follow (who i actually met in person at camp widow a week ago!) Jackie posted something akin to this. her loss was her husband, and her spot was a doctor’s office. i know it isn’t the same, but i love how she closes the post — that the spot can’t hurt her anymore than it already has… click below if you’d like to read it… hugs, tiffany
Quirky Jessi says:
You’re definitely not alone in that. You can see that just by the comments here, of course. Most people who read this don’t even comment (I’m usually one of those people) and there are obviously tons of people who don’t read your site at all. But so many of us have the same avoidance and flashbacks associated with certain areas. Different places, different feelings, different reasons….but definitely the same desire…the same need….to just stay away.