Earlier this week there was an Oprah show about mothers that featured some bloggers. Several of them I know and respect and I was curious how Oprah would handle it. My bloggers (Yes. My people. My bloggers.) were great and most everyone did well given the circumstances. The show itself, however, was mostly fluff. Really, when you only have 40 minutes, there isn't a lot of time for much more than plugging a new TV series, some books, playing with Skype and telling all the ladies in the audience to LOOK UNDER YOUR CHAIR for a new Flip video camera. Rich seemed annoyed that the show even existed because he said it just trivialized things and oversimplified a lot of what goes on for parents. We get it. You don't shower, your baby ran out of diapers two days ago and you haven't slept more than four hours straight in years. But we all knew that before the show even started. Rich and I had a bit of a heated discussion about the whole thing because I think that Oprah does a service for sparking people's interest in blogs and communities of parents even if it's all fluff while he was saying if they can't do it right they shouldn't have done it at all. Oprah didn't get to the root of why people blog.
On that same day on the other side of the country from us, a sweet little girl named Madeline passed away. Previous to this week, I had only heard of Heather Spohr from a few other bloggers and she hadn't made it into my RSS reader rotation. But she always seemed like a sweet woman and the people who call her a friend I consider to be a high caliber of folks. This week I have been simply blown away by the support that has gone out to the Spohr family. I can't imagine the heart ache of losing a child at only 17 months, particularly when there was little to no warning other than the same complications they have dealt with over and over from her premature birth.
The Spohrs had already intended on walking in the March for Babies walk this month for Maddie but since Tuesday alone the donations for March of Dimes in Maddie's name have gone from a goal of $3000 to over $22,000 (and still climbing). Because of the incredible amount of traffic, you can't actually get to Heather's blog. But other bloggers have linked to the March of Dimes page for donations, created heartfelt tributes to the family, setup PayPal accounts and mailboxes to help offset funeral costs and even organized volunteers to bring dinner to the Spohr family for the next several weeks. There have been YouTube video tributes and Blogher articles about it. The Today Show blog sent condolences to the family after hearing that Maddie (who loved her some Matt Lauer) had passed.
Maddie's death breaks my heart, but the community that has rallied around her family simply amazes me. How could you do that without the Internet? It's more than one church could do. It's more than one SCA baronial fundraiser could accomplish. It is the manifestation of how technology is used for good, to truly create a global village of people who don't even know you but care about you and are worried about you and want you to be okay.
If you'd like to get to know Heather a little, you can visit her Twitter page or her Flickr photostream until her blog is back up. And in the meantime, be sure to reach out to someone you love, either in person or through the magic of technology. For Maddie.