Amidst the drama of climbing mountains & fundraising I’m sparing a thought for the lovely Jennie who recently lost her 9-month-old baby girl Matilda Mae to SIDS, or ‘cot death’. Her memorial service takes place tomorrow. This special little girl has left her mark on thousands of people all over the world, & this is an attempt to explain why for those who aren’t part of the online world of blogging & social media.
“I have never met Matilda Mae but her short life has touched me very deeply”.
I’ve read or seen versions of this sentiment hundreds of times in the last few weeks. I’ve said it myself.
But to those who don’t use internet sites like twitter & facebook & who don’t write or read blogs it can be very hard to understand.
How can a complete stranger be so moved by someone who you only ‘know’ from a computer screen?
But, really, I think it’s not so hard to understand. It’s really not that different to what we knew before this strange new thing called ‘The World Wide Web’ came along.
Most of us have read a true story, in a book for instance – although it could also be in a magazine or newspaper – that we found deeply affecting, especially when the story is about the writer’s own experiences. We have felt a connection with the writer, even though we’ve never met them & probably never will.
Imagine if you were able to write to the author, to comment on what she’d written, & to express how deeply moved you were. That you could ask her questions, find out more. Then that she could respond to you, thank you for your interest, answer your questions.
Imagine that this could take place instantly, without the need to send a letter through the post.
That’s a Web Log, a ‘blog. It’s really that simple.
People write about their lives & other people read. They talk to the writer & the writer talks back to them. Common ground is found, they share, they help each other, they learn from each other’s experiences. Relationships, even friendships, are forged.
The writer can also add photographs, videos & music to enhance the words they write.
Jennie started a blog about her lovely twins Esther & William coming into the world, their troubles & triumphs. Many people read their story, identified with it, & were moved & inspired by it, talking with Jennie via her blog & other social media. People like me, whose boy-girl twins were born just a few months before hers.
We then rejoiced with her as she was blessed with an unexpected gift, Matilda Mae.
Personally I will never forget the day I read the saddest tweet I have ever seen, where Jennie told her online friends that she had lost Matilda Mae in the night.
We grieved with her, with this lovely woman we had come to know, struggling with the loss of her beloved baby.
She cried out in pain & people she knew responded, offering support, prayers, gifts, whatever we could. We felt her pain, a little of it. We all knew that it could just as easily be us facing every parent’s worst nightmare.
Jennie poured out her feelings online, on her blog & on twitter & facebook. She said it was her way of coping.
She wrote about her love for Matilda Mae, her smile, her laugh, the things she loved to do, her love of people, what she loved to wear. She wrote so beautifully, so expressively, straight from the heart; with photos, videos & music.
Through the outpouring of a mother’s love for her lost baby we came to love Matilda Mae too through her eyes. She made so vivid the memory of Matilda Mae.
We saw what an amazing, exceptional little girl Matilda Mae was: “born to be an angel…for earth you were just too good”.
Jennie’s cry of grief & love spread & was heard far & wide. Thousands of people all over the world have been touched by Matilda Mae’s story, her infectious smile, her beautiful big “chocolatey eyes” & have grieved with Jennie that she has been taken from this world.
So many of us have been moved by Matilda Mae, through the love of her mother, from things like this: “If you have just half a thought of doing something with your little one, do it today! All week I wanted to get in Matilda’s bath with her x…Please pls hold your children and kiss them all you can. Tell them you love them many times a day. You will never get a single second back”.
So many parents have been moved to spend more time with their children, share a bath with them, play with them more, hug & kiss them more, love them more.
Because that’s what this is about.
It’s not about screens, internet, computers, any of those things. They don’t matter.
It’s about people. People reaching out to a fellow human, sharing her grief.
And Love. A Mother’s love for her lost child, and her sharing with the world just why Matilda Mae is so loved.
And that is what Matilda Mae leaves us with, a legacy that thousands of us will have always.
- For Jennie & Matilda Mae (whiskeyforaftershave.com)