Friday, April 10, 2009

Fighting the Good Fight

We have a temporary ritual in the house. At least four times a day I go into the garage and look at the kittens. My rationale is to make sure Carmen has enough to eat and drink or her litter-box doesn’t need changing.

[One brief note about Carmen and her litter-box: a few days ago Consort walked into the garage and walked right back out again. He was ashen. “I think a Teamster crapped in there,” he said, shaking his head. Sure, this doesn’t move the blog forward thematically, but I thought it was evocative.]

So I visit the garage on a regular basis to do whatever housekeeping needs doing but mostly I go out to stare at kittens. Wouldn’t you? They are fat, fuzzy inchworms with pansy faces and funny little tails. When they aren’t nursing they are sleeping in an undulating clump, suckling each other’s paws. In short, they are wildly adorable and the reason I put up with litter-box duty. If I walk into the garage and Carmen is nestled in with them, she glances up briefly to determine if I’m there to dole out more food; if I’m not, she goes back to dozing.

Sometimes I discover her outside the baby-basket, just hanging out on the opposite side of the cage, enjoying kitten-free nipples while her babies nap in a warm pile. Seeing me approach, she scowls, returns to the nest and curls protectively around her brood, shielding them from me. This, of course, causes them to wake up and demand another meal. Carmen hisses at me for forcing her back to work during her break and for my being near her kittens. I don’t think she despises me anymore. She will even let me pet her while she enjoys her stinky wet food. I think if Carmen had a reasoning center in her brain she’d admit that the humans in this strange environment mean her babies no harm. Still, she is mom and we’re strangers. It never hurts to remind strangers how much damage you are prepared to inflict to protect your babies.

Heather and Mike Spohr hissed plenty during their daughter’s lifetime. Maddie was born eleven weeks early and spent her first 68 days in the hospital. Her entire life was punctuated by intermittent health crises, constantly underscored by her medical fragility. Maddie’s life was also Christmas and trips to the park and Easter baskets and her first birthday and two parents who were prepared to fight off anything which tried to take their darling girl away. But some enemies are bigger than parents can fight and three days ago, Madeline Alice Spohr died suddenly in the hospital. She was seventeen months old. If you can, please donate in her name to the March of Dimes so other children can keep fighting. Or donate something toward Maddie’s funeral so her parents don’t have to suffer the obscenity of paying to bury their own baby.

Heather and Mike fought so hard for Maddie, and they won seventeen months with their lovely and irreplaceable girl. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go kiss my kid.

7 Comments:

Blogger bethany actually said...

Sometimes I really love the internet. I'd never heard of Maddie till a few days ago but now hundreds if not thousands of people have had their lives touched by her and will remember her.

Glad to hear the kittens are doing well.

1:45 PM  
Blogger Leta said...

When my sister died I was holding up okay until my step-Mom told my Mom that "parents shouldn't have to bury their children." That thought is still - over five years later - the words that stick with me. And you are right - parents should not have to pay to bury their children.

1:57 PM  
Blogger Judy said...

I hate death.

4:35 PM  
Blogger Not The Rockefellers said...

If I could, I would take the pain and suffering away from this family
and leave only the grace, that will eventually come, from all of this.

Peace - Rene

5:43 PM  
Blogger Robin Raven said...

I'm glad your family and the kitty family is doing well.

Maddie's story is heartbreaking, and my heart goes out to her parents. You phrased it all beautifully, the joys they also experienced with her. I'll definitely donate.

12:05 AM  
Anonymous Jen said...

Wow - this story hit me like a ton of bricks. I just looked at Maddie's website and fell in love with that beautiful baby instantly. It's a sin she had to go so soon...too soon. Her family will be in my thoughts for a long time and her image burned into my mind.

1:49 PM  
Blogger Antique Mommy said...

I did not expect this post to end this way. Sometimes life is unbearably beautiful and if you can hold on to that, somehow you can hold on when it's unbearably painful. God bless Maddie's family.

8:01 PM  

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