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Clearly, She’s Not

I have been emotionally unpredictable lately, and it’s been driving me insane.  Today, I cried more often than I didn’t cry.  I wrote this to try and get some of my feelings out, so that maybe tomorrow I can wake up with dry eyes.  I want to laugh, like Maddie laughed.  Soon, I hope.


Unlike many people, I couldn’t imagine myself in Heather’s shoes when Maddie passed away.  Inherently, I knew that the mere thought would crush me to the ground, shatter my heart and rip me to shreds.  I didn’t try to see from Heather’s perspective, because the view is hard enough from here.  My mind built a brick wall between Maddie’s death and the mortality of my own children, because I refused to make that connection. 

But last night, I caught a glimpse behind the wall and it has brought me to my knees.  In my first-ever twitter drama, I challenged someone’s view on unvaccinated children.  I pointed out that my girl Blythe is deathly allergic to most vaccines, and so we don’t vaccinate.  We can’t vaccinate.  What choice do we have?

And while I’m not angry and the person has since apologized and explained that her social-media persona is often insensitive, her response is burned into my eyelids:  

define “deathly allergic” she’s clearly not dead.

No, clearly she’s not.  Thank God and all that is Holy in the world.  Thank Modern Medicine and Science and Geeks who spend their free time experimenting in the basement.  Thank the Universe, Thank Karma, Thank Fate.  Thank Timing and Mother’s Intuition and Doctors who will listen instead of judge.  Thank My Lucky Stars, she’s clearly not.

Those seven words acted as a wrecking ball, and for the first time, that brick wall protecting my thoughts came crashing down.  I woke up this morning feeling raw, and the first thing I saw was my baby girl’s face smiling up at me.  With every laugh, every gentle touch, every word she spoke, the words burned into my mind: Thank God, she’s clearly not.

I held her to me and cried into her hair, wishing I could take her smell and bottle it, keep it in a vial at the hollow of my throat.  What would I do without the feel of her soft hair against my cheek?  How could I go on, knowing I could never hold her in my arms again?  Thank God, she’s clearly not.

Most of the time, in our day-to-day life, I plan ahead for obstacles but keep my deep worries at bay.  The thoughts of what might happen if someone got careless have to be put on the top shelf, out of reach, or I would never let her leave the house.  I try to let her live as normally as possible, just as Heather and Mike did for Maddie.  There’s no sense in trying to keep her in a bubble – what kind of life is that?

But today I look at her and I can’t help but think of all the what-ifs.  I think of the near misses and the chances we take every day.  I wonder what would happen if the one time I forgot her epi-pen at home turned out to be the one time we really needed it.  Today, the wall is gone.  Every time I look at my baby girl, I get a tiny glimpse of what it would be like to be in Heather’s shoes and it takes my breath away.  Today, all the fears I’ve harbored about Blythe’s future are right there, laid out in front of me. 

I think about how, if something were to happen and she had to be taken to the hospital, they may not have the right tools to help her.  How many hospitals keep corn-free IV fluid in stock?  How many keep pure pain meds on hand?  Or pure antibiotics, or pure anything else?  How many doctors would listen to a hysterical mother?  Even if she’s trying to explain that ordinary medical products would most likely put her small child into anaphylactic shock?

I don’t want to see the view from Heather’s shoes.  Not ever, ever, ever.  I don’t want to think about how I would handle it.  But today, I do think about it and I cry.  I cry for Maddie and for all the what-ifs.  I cry for Heather and Mike, and my admiration for them deepens by the second. 

I watch my little girl go about her day, unware of the dangers around her, and I think to myself: Thank God, she’s clearly not.

16 Responses to “Clearly, She’s Not”

  • tuki:

    Was it the weekend when it was happy?


  • I echo your entire post. Thank GOD, clearly she’s not.


  • Momcat:

    For some people life is seen in black or white and not in the many shades of grey which it actually is.


  • Beautiful post. I think Maddie’s death has opened up a whole new world to a lot of us. And it’s a world we never wanted to visit.

    Give that little girl a big squeeze for me.



  • I had no idea that Blythe’s allergies were this dangerous. Medical supplies? Scary stuff. (((hugs))) to you today. I knew the ‘dangers’ but only on a basic level. Yes, thank God she’s clearly not.


  • Love love love to you lady.

    I don’t care what that twitter person’s excuse was, I’m tired of people hiding behind their online “persona” with no thought for others or accountability for themselves.

    I’m thinking of you.


  • My nephew has serious, and life-threatening, allergies. And every time he is at my house and I have to be extra cautious, I look at his sweet smile, the way he hugs me, the laughter he shares with my own kids, and I stop resenting all the insignificant but annoying precautions we have to take. But it doesn’t take away the worry or the fear.

    Huge hugs to you and Blythe.


  • As a mom, an underlying fear never goes away, does it? I have also been very struck by that, especially since hearing of Maddie’s passing.


  • Amen to all of it. My boys are essentially fine and I too want to put them in a bubble and make sure they stay that way. It kills me to think that some parents out there have to have to experience the day when their child is not fine.


  • Hugs. It’s so not a thing you want to stare down: life’s vulnerability. Not ever and never, never, never with these little people we love so much. Holding your hand and big hugs today.

    And I agree 100%, I saw your exchange after the fact. On-line personalities aren’t an excuse for cruelty.


  • Yes, thank god. I too have had many of these types of thoughts about my own Little Man. Not that he has allergies, but he’s been sick enough, enough times that I know I should be grateful he’s here and he’s healthy. If only we didn’t receive such horrid reminders as Maddy and Thalon.


  • andrea…this was a beautiful post. so great. i had to read it again when i was done.

    sweet blythe.


  • I second all of the above.
    That was a brilliantly written post.


  • I’m sorry that someone’s thoughtlessly tossed out words caused you such pain like that. As you know, I saw the exchange, but I could never imagine the depths to which it touched that nerve.

    I admire how you were able to articulate your fears here and, in essence, conquer that carelessness with love.


  • I meant to comment here before and time got away from me. I wanted to let you know how deeply this post touched me – I think because it reminded me so much of our situation with J.

    After I found out about Maddie, I was profoundly sad. Lingering, wouldn’t-go-away sad that lasted all month. But I didn’t cry, and that surprised me. I think that, like you said, REALLY letting it sink in would crush me to the ground. I was partially shutting off because I didn’t want to go there.

    This post opened the floodgates, and I cried, and cried and cried. I cried for Heather and Mike, I cried for all the parents who have lost a child, and I cried for all of us who live with kids with medical issues that and the very real fears of the possibility of losing a child.

    “Most of the time, in our day-to-day life, I plan ahead for obstacles but keep my deep worries at bay… But today I look at her and I can’t help but think of all the what-ifs.”

    That is so true for us too. I know exactly where you’re coming from. Thank you for the cleansing cry. It needed to come out. Today, and every day, I’m holding my little girl close and treasuring every moment I can.

    Blythe is beautiful, and is very lucky to have such a wonderful mommy.


  • […] always did my best to keep my fear at bay, but I think I was able to do that, in large part, because our home was safe.  If the world […]

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