You know how they say that you shouldn’t eat uncooked fish when pregnant? Well, I think they might want to consider amending that rule to include the first six months after giving birth too, because Heather woke yesterday morning with terrible food poisoning after having eaten seared ahi the night before. Of course when you have food poisoning — and all the not so fun side effects that go with it — the last thing you want to do is take a seven hour long car ride. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what we had to do. So Heather had a very long day. In light of all of this I told her to get some sleep and that I would fill in for her.
Our trip to visit my family in the Bay Area was a good one, but it was hard. It was the first time Heather and I had been up there together since before Maddie passed, and Maddie’s absence was felt in every moment. On our last trip Maddie slept between us in the guest bed, cuddled with her grandparents, and played with her cousins. On this trip Heather and I slept in the same guest bed, but Maddie wasn’t between us. Her grandparents were there, but there was no cuddling with Maddie. Instead, all they could do was show me a photo of Maddie that they had framed by their bed. And while Maddie’s cousins ran around, laughing and playing, they did so without Maddie who was such an integral part of their games last time.
For me, there are few if any places where Maddie’s absence is felt greater than with her family. This is true with Heather’s side of the family too, of course, but it is especially hard with mine as she was part of a little crew of cousins. The last time our little crew was together they kissed and hugged each other, giggled endlessly, and jumped on beds. It was a golden family moment. But it would not be repeated. Now when I see Maddie’s cousins and watch them laugh and play all I can think about is how Maddie isn’t there to run after them. And she should be. She is supposed to be there.
Yes, the Spohr family has multiplied even with Maddie’s passing. My sister gave birth to Michaela, and Heather gave birth to Annie. But that only makes it harder. I see Annie and Michaela together and think about how they would have idolized Maddie. I imagine her teaching them; playing with them. She would have been the big sister and cool older cousin. But that isn’t to be. No matter how much our family may grow, nothing will ever change the fact that one of its key members is gone.
In some ways it feels like watching a TV show that carries on after one of its stars leaves… Like Three’s Company post Suzanne Sommers. The show sort of feels the same, and maybe even captures some of the same magic, but at the same time kind of feels…weird. I hope that this feeling isn’t always felt so strongly. I need to remind myself that Maddie’s passing is still so fresh. It’s only been a little over a year, and we have a long trip ahead of us, one that is far longer than even a seven hour car ride when you have food poisoning.