I’m Maddie’s Bampa, Heather’s dad. Heather is out of town this week speaking with members of Congress on behalf of the March Of Dimes and has asked me to try my hand at filling in for her.
Last week Heather spoke as a member of a panel at a conference in Asheville, NC regarding bloggers who write about difficult subjects (the loss of a child in Heather’s case). The participants in that segment of the conference were distressed to hear that after being so honest and open in her blog dealing with Maddie’s passing, someone would leave a negative comment. I, like so many readers from time to time, have seen those comments. Yesterday it happened again and the following comment was posted. “Didn’t you just lose Maddie? and your (sic) already pregnant again? did you even have enough time to mourn her loss? people just keep popping out babies and don’t think.”
The reaction from other readers was swift, emotional and articulate. I, as the grandfather who couldn’t protect my only grandchild and the father of my daughter who I can’t protect from the ongoing nightmare of losing a child, wanted to strike out at the commenter with everything I have. Thankfully others did that for me. It still leaves the unanswered question as to why someone would make such a mean spirited comment. Perhaps this person has had little control over her life and she’s attempting to impact the world in a way she feels she’s entitled to, much the same way someone might send a computer virus to unsuspecting victims.
But, in particular the commenter’s ignorant statement “did you even have enough time to mourn her loss” baffles me. Some people we know have actually said “Are you over it yet?” Mourning isn’t something with a finite time line or structure. I had a friend I attended kindergarten through high school with who was killed in Vietnam. His death occurred 42 years ago and I still mourn for Mark and make a trip to see his name on the Vietnam Memorial every time I’m in DC. Men I worked with who died in the line of duty 30 years ago….I still mourn for them and their families’ losses. Our good friend’s father still mourns for his miscarried babies that died more than 45 years ago. Everyday my wife and I mourn for Maddie with tears swelling our eyes. Mourning as a measurement of time, as if there was some sort of appropriate quantity, is a myth. It never stops, there is no closure. A period of mourning only exists for those not doing the mourning.
As for “popping out babies”… I’ve known that Heather & Mike’s newest daughter Binky has been planned for over a year. People who know Heather & Mike as most of us do, understand the agony they are going through. It’s the same agony that so many of you are experiencing with your own losses. I know we all have constant reminders that blindside us. We go to have our teeth cleaned and the dental hygienist asks about our children and grandchildren not knowing what has taken place. We went to an early season football game and one of the other season ticket holders asked if we didn’t bring Maddie because it was too hot. This is part of life’s stream. It keeps flowing whether we are mourning or not. Part of that life’s stream is having children. The most important thing in our lives is our children. I’m very proud of Heather & Mike’s skill as parents. It would be a shame to waste their potential because of someone else’s expectations.