In the days following Maddie’s passing I began reading the LA Times’ obituary section – for reasons a grief therapist could explain, I’m sure – but never stopped. I continue to read them to this day. I do this not to be morbid, but because I enjoy reading people’s life stories. It is amazing how someone’s entire life – triumphs and failures, family and friends – can be encapsulated into just a few paragraphs. Instead of being depressing, however, obituaries can be uplifting as they show just how much value each person’s life had.
At least that is how I look at them on a good day.
On other days the obituaries DO depress me, especially when I read one that includes the word “predeceased.” “Predeceased” is used in reference to a spouse, sibling, or child who died prior to the subject of the obituary, as in: “Mr. Jones was predeceased by his wife Mildred.” Yesterday it dawned on me that this word would be used in my obituary. Despite the fact that no one’s obituary is written until the day they die, part of mine is.
“Predeceased by his daughter, Madeline, Mr. Spohr…”
There is nothing I can do to change that. I could live to be a hundred, sell more records than Michael Jackson, even become the first person to live on the face of Mars, but my obituary would still include:
“Predeceased by his daughter, Madeline, Mr. Spohr…”
Sometimes it is so hard to stay positive, to forge on as everyone says I must. Part of my life is over and already been written into my obituary even if the rest hasn’t. All I can do, I guess, is to try my best to ensure that the parts of my obituary yet to be written aren’t as sad.
You’re right Mike – there’s no fixing what’s broken and we do just have to keep going. You & Heather know better than anyone that tomorrow is promised to none of us. I ask you as a favor to me – a friend you haven’t met yet, but someone who loves you all the same – to keep taking care of yourself, of Heather, of Binky, of Rigby, of Madeline’s legacy…because even when you have experienced transformative sorrow, you are still capable of transformative joy.
With much sincerity & love
from my family to yours,
I think you have no obligation to stay positive just because other people say that’s what you should do. Just do the best you can do. It is so sad that Maddie will be recognized in your life history in this way. But so many people know that despite her passing, she is still such a huge part of your life, and lots of lives, every day, forever.
xo from CT,
.-= amanda´s last blog ..ants in the pants =-.
I don’t think of it as Mr. Spohr, predeceased by Madeline… I think of it more as “Madeline, awaiting the rest of her family in heaven”. If we think of life, or existence even, as what happens on Earth and nothing more, then yes, that would be very depressing… but life on Earth is just step 1 of something much, much bigger.
Shannon Kieta says:
How about looking at it like this…
Maddie…waiting to greet her daddy. Mr. Spohr,…yadda yadda yadda….
april in NJ says:
I think “Waiting to be greeted by his beautiful daughter, Madeline…” is a better sentiment. You’ll be happy again… I promise… maybe not whole, maybe not fixed, maybe not better… but one day you’ll find joy in each morning… I think once Binky arrives, life will be a little more bearable. Just keep taking one day at a time, do the best you can, give into the grief when it hits, but keep living for Heather, Maddie, and especially Baby Binky… much love and hugs from NJ.
nic @mybottlesup says:
mike- i have zero words of wisdom, and even less insightful thoughts for you… and i’m sorry for that. each post that either you or heather publish is immensely personal and intensely painful.
your reality is painful. and i wish i were that person who could say something profound and offer relief or keep you from reading the obits, knowing what your’s will one day say….
all i have for you is this is all just fucking unfair. and from the pit of my heart, i cry for your family and the unfairness of it all.
you are always in my thoughts.
I think the others are right. Screw that word – what a dumb word. Finally being reunited with Madeline is way better.
But you are right…there’s a lot left of your obit to be written, make it as goof as you can.
(I read the obits, too, actually. I get pissed when it doesn’t tell the life story, when it’s just bare bones.)
.-= pgoodness´s last blog ..The appointment =-.
Those bad boys can get expensive, I hate it when it’s bare bones too… but I get it. (Dawn who’s dad was a funeral director till his own obit.)
.-= Dawn´s last blog ..Bonus Round: Thirty Days of [blank] =-.
Kristen McD says:
She will hold such a place of honour. In your obituary, as in your life… but it is heartbreaking.
Sadly, there’s nothing anyone can say that will make any of it any better for you guys. I know this won’t do anything, but think of the joy you had in your time with Maddie. Your lives were better because of it. Personally, I think that even though a loss this great sucks, part of the reason it sucks so bad is that it was just so good while it was going on.
I’m sure others have said it, but you don’t have to act any certain way while you’re going through this. There’s no guide book for it, no right and wrong way to navigate it. All anyone can do is fumble through it and lean on the people who love them until the light starts to come back.
Take care of yourself. Heather, Binky, Rigby and your family love you and need you.
I also used to read the obituaries daily. It started a couple years ago after a young woman across the street killed herself. I wouldn’t have known except for a loud gunshot and her boyfriend running out of the house screaming from what he had witnessed. Sorry- probably too much info but I think it traumatized me just enough to take an interest in death at that point in my life. From that day on I began reading every obituary in the newspaper. I couldn’t explain why. Then one day I came across the most inspiring obituary I have ever read. This man wrote it himeself, while on his deathbed. He wrote about all the things he had learned in this life. He seemed so content with his fate. Like, death was just as natural as any other step he had taken. This gave me so much to think about, and I hadn’t realized until now but I don’t think I have read the obituaries since that one.
.-= Rachel´s last blog ..Tired Kitten =-.
Mike, as depressing as it is to think about, all you can do now is live your life to the fullest to make the rest of that paragraph say what you want it to. Maddie is gone, but she’s with you in your heart and in your mind forever, so she will NEVER be forgotten. She was such a little angel, and will remain a sparkle in your and Heathers (everyone that she touched really) eyes. Much love to you and Heather, Patty
.-= Patty´s last blog ..A day late and a dolla short! =-.
Wow, I applaud your honesty. I too read the obits. My husband thinks it’s weird, but I always feel bad for the ones who’s notices go, well, unnoticed. You know the ones, where no family is listed, no service. Those are the ones that break my heart.
I agree with the other posters that you just need to request the word “Predeceased” not be included in your obituary. That word doesn’t instill celebration, and let’s be real, the day you’re reunited with your little girl will be a huge party!
.-= IrreverentMommy´s last blog ..Girl Talk Thursday =-.
I have always read obituaries. It appeals to my overly nosy nature. I skim over the elderly usually and look for the middle aged and younger. And I am always interested to see who, if anyone, went before them. Adds to their story. The other thing is that if they have someone waiting for them on the other side it, somehow, seems less tragic.
The night before my husband died, I told him that maybe he was supposed to go and be with our son and I would stay with the girls. Someday we will be a whole family. And that’s not a tragedy at all.
.-= JennK´s last blog ..It’s like labor pains. Or not. =-.
Those are about the suckiest words I ever heard. No parent should ever have to see that. Love to you and Heather…
.-= Middle-Aged-Woman´s last blog ..Margaret Loves Me Best =-.
I too started reading the obits often after a childhood friend passed away. I’m not really sure why. My own grandmother, who lost two of her daughters (one as an infant, the other as an adult) also went on to have 11 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren at the time of her passing. So part of her story was very, very sad, but part of it was happy.
.-= Rachel´s last blog ..Photoplay =-.
the most comforting explanations of death i’ve ever read are those of buddhist nature. i’m a christian myself, but i am actually more comforted with the buddhist idea of death. there is one passage in a book called the “zen waterfall passage” where they explain that we are a tiny droplet of water, falling from the top of the waterfall over the course of our life, and at the end of that life, we become the river, and continue flowing.
it’s probably the most relaxing, peaceful thing i’ve ever read. maddie’s life here was being a droplet tossing & turning from the top of a beautiful waterfall, and now she is a part of the calm, gorgeous river flowing beneath… constant.
maddie is patiently and happily awaiting you & heather & binky. when you are all done with falling from the waterfall of life, you will join her (and others) in the river. until then, you’re still all one of the same, depending on each other to exist.
… i hope you begin finding more peace. a peace you deserve. a peace maddie wants you to have.
.-= kay´s last blog ..Neckline Slimmer =-.
Love you (((HUGS)))
.-= VDog´s last blog ..Bonus Round: Thirty Days of [blank] =-.
cindy w says:
I never really thought about that word before. It’s an awful word.
Big hugs to you & Heather.
.-= cindy w´s last blog ..karma =-.
aunt becky says:
You will always make her proud.
.-= aunt becky´s last blog ..Shockingly, It Was NOT On A Check For A Zillion Dollars =-.
OMG – I thought *I* was the only one who did that. I’ve always been afraid though of telling my counselors that I did it – it seemed like the last straw.
I, personally (I guess because I do it too), think that it’s a little normal want to find others in the same situation. I don’t know if that’s why you do it but it is one of mine. I like to read what they did in their lives – what kind of life theirs was – how they made it their own.
I think that yours will read something along the lines of: Mr. Spohr was loving greeted in heaven by his daughter Madeline. We are sure that smiles were plentiful and giggles were heard.
Mike, it helps me to think that for when I leave this earth – that I will see Addison again – I have to believe it. I just have to.
Hugs from GA today to you, Heather, and Binky.
you have so much more live to live and joy to have. remind yourself of that often.
.-= jenni´s last blog ..Some Days this Blog Writes Itself =-.
heart-breaking…wish it were different for you.
Andrea's Sweet Life says:
You know what? The other part that’s already written? Loving, devoted husband and father. Wonderful friend. Fantastic writer. Talented musician.
Fill it up. All of it. Make them take out an entire page in the Times to cover your life.
.-= Andrea’s Sweet Life´s last blog ..The Other Side of Addiction =-.
I came down here in the comments to post, not knowing what to say. As soon as I read Andrea’s comment, I realized that she put into words what felt wrong about what you said – there are other things about you that are already true and timeless. Those things are stamped on you as surely as Maddie’s coming and going.
Thanks Andrea I couldn’t have said it any better, and won’t try.
I’ve been reading and not commenting because most days after reading what you write I have no words. I sit and I type something and I stare at it and delete it because I have no words. My brain, my heart can’t comprehend or begin to understand what your brain and heart are feeling. Today, I just wanted you to know – so many of us are here wishing we had the right words to say.
.-= Jamie ´s last blog ..I am so proud of all you Mo Fos =-.
Agreed that loving husband and father is already part of your life. & that, while living on this Earth without Maddie to hold is so very difficult — more than I can possibly comprehend — I believe she will have so much time to hold you, and laugh with you, in the great beyond.
Thinking of you all. ♥
To read your words in your last 2 posts and they both took my breath away. Maddie is gone but she will never ever be forgotten. I know when my good friends had a 2 yr old and then a baby born still, they bought their child an Angel and that is how they introduced their son to his sibling. Now, even though they just had a 3rd baby, he will look up to the sky and say “My sister is an Angel and she lives up in the Stars”. It’s never easy Mike but, I do believe just like what happened to my other friends, your new baby will give you a renewed sense of hope and remind you to love with your whole being once again. Of course you will never stop missing or loving Maddie but you will love Binky with same much passion and with that baby will come many more lessons and blessings.
Although I have never had the priviledge of meeting either you or Heather, I can tell you without a doubt, I already like, respect, and admire you both. I think you have a beautiful voice and I wish you could make it in this business as I really think you have a lot of gifts to give to the world. It is so easy to see how much both you and Heather love and adore Maddie…that won’t change. Both of your children are very lucky to have you be their parents.
If reading the paper brings you insight or comfort, so be it. You deserve to be happy Mike and to find any kind of solace you can find. I know that is not always possible with all that has happened. I do wish for both you and Heather some relief from the relentless grief you face on a daily basis.
Sending you lots of support, comfort and hugs from afar.
You are a great man and father Mike…never forget that.
Your Stranger Friend,
F’in sucks that is what your obit will read. It shouldn’t ever, ever be that way. You have every right and reason to rage against it. Big, big hugs.
Your love for this new baby will be just as intense, just as overwhelming, but DIFFERENT. There will be no way to compare the love you feel for Maddie and the love you feel for this baby.
.-= Rach´s last blog ..nothing =-.
Thinking about you guys every day and sending good thoughts. I’m sure having another baby on the way makes things endlessly complicated but the fact that you are already thinking about these things before Binky’s arrival shows that this little guy is in good, sound, thoughtful hands. You and Heather are great parents and will be great parents again. Truly.
I like the suggestions above. Maybe write your own obituary now just for the peace of doing so?? Maybe too depressing of a suggestion. Rest easy as to bink. You will love him equally and that love won’t detract from or change how you feel about maddie. The way you love each child is that same immeasurable bottomless well of love. Not to worry. It just happens. Bink can’t take away your grief. Your love for him/her will be its own and just as overwhelming. I promise. From a total stranger.
I found your blog maybe a little over a year ago and became a quick fan! Slowly your enteries became less and I didn’t check in as often. After searching thru my bookmarks last night I saw yours and thought I’d check in to see if you’d posted anything new. Apparently. And it seems crazy, but I’m sitting here with tears streaming down my face to find that your sweet, sweeat, beautiful girl is no longer in your arms. I don’t know you, your wife, or your precious little girl, but I’m wrapped in pain for you.
As a mother of two, it makes me stop in my tracks and wonder how I’d be if something were to ever happen to either of my babies. I can’t say for sure how I would feel, what I would do, how I would react. Put its painful enough to just imagine it, so I can only imagine just how much pain you and your wife are in.
I just wanted to let you know that you’ll be in my prayers. I am the praying kind and believe in it, no matter if you aren’t or not.
I pray that time will ease the pain and that time will never diloute your memories or your love for Madeline. I pray that your new baby will not replace Madeline but only remind you of the love that you are able to provide for a child.
Rest easy in knowing that you will love your new child, just as much as you love Madeline. It won’t be the same, but completely different. There’s no way I can compare the love I have for my two children. There’s no way to quantify the love. Its just love.
I’m truely sad to hear about the passing of your daughter. No one should have to feel such pain. I do not believe bad things are caused to us to make us learn something, but I do believe that when they happen, in time it helps us to appreciate the good. Like the sunshine after the rain.
You will be okay.
.-= Kristin´s last blog ..on being happy =-.
Thinking of you guys and sending (((hugs))).
Ellen Fitz says:
As far as I can remember my aunts and uncles always read the obituaries. They called it the “Irish Sports Page”. I too find them interesting for the stories they provide.
As for your own and how it reads, only time will tell. Maddie lives on in our hearts.
My tears spilled on the keyboard reading this post. I dont know what to say to make it better…
I wish this was a terrible dream, and you would just wake up one day…
.-= Childwoman´s last blog ..You are a boy =-.
I read them too and my husband thinks it is strange as well. Their life on this earth was important and I feel like it is a way to honor that persons time here. Think about you guys daily and send love and strength to you each and everyday!
I think reading these words and even imagining your own are not wrong or morbid, we wonder and dwell. But, I’d be lying if I didn’t get a little harsh and say it’s awful and inconceivable that a parent should ever have to wait. I am so sorry and admire whatever it you do to make it through each day.
Here’s to events that will make people smile, though starting with Madeline, they;ll already be smiling.
.-= amanda´s last blog ..Living in Sugar Land =-.