I thought carefully before writing this, but this is a post that I feel I have to write.
A terrible thing happened on Saturday: a loving mother & father lost their little baby girl. Just 9 months old, she had just learnt to crawl & she died in her cot during the night.
I’ve never met Jennie nor her family but I feel as if I know them; I & hundreds of people all around the world who know her through social media & from her wonderful blog are grieving for her.
Like us she has boy-girl twins; they were born just a few months after ours. Hers was one of the first blogs I followed when I became a Dad, mostly because her family was similar to ours. Her twins were very premature, much earlier than Jake & Ellie, & had a terrible struggle in their first few months. They are now happy, healthy, adorable 2-year-olds. I’ve been able to learn from her, compare notes, share experiences.
It was more than that though. Jennie has a rare gift in her writing: she is wonderfully expressive, & always writes straight from the heart. I couldn’t help but be moved when reading her posts, to share in her struggles, her triumphs, her joys & her sorrows.
There has always been one thing that shone through more than anything else in her writing: Love. Her great love for her children; how she struggled to do all she could for them when they were in NICU for the first weeks of their lives, her joy at their coming home, her devotion to their well-being ever since.
Love oozes out of every word, shines from every photo, drips off every page.
Then in May last year – despite believing she was unable to conceive naturally- she gave birth to a baby girl, Matilda Mae.
On Sunday afternoon I read the saddest tweet I have ever seen: “Our beautiful daughter Matilda Mae was taken from us last night to join the angels in the sky x RIP Beautiful angel daughter x We love you x”
My initial reaction was one of utter disbelief. I’d not read of any health difficulties, she seemed a healthy, happy child: how could this be?!
But tragically it was true.
Yes, children die. Far too many. There are some wonderful representatives of the UK parent blogging community in Ghana right now trying to do something about that, a cause Jennie herself has championed. But when it’s someone you have come to know, to have shared in their life with its struggles & its triumphs, someone you feel has been a part of your life & that of your own family – it’s different. It hits home, hits hard.
We grieve for her & for her husband & children. I can’t imagine what they must be going through.
You feel so helpless. You just want to snap your fingers & make everything better, but you can’t. You want to do something that can make a difference, so you send inadequate words, warm thoughts, virtual hugs, positive vibes, prayers. Many of us have.
She still writes; in sharing her pain & remembering her beautiful daughter in some way I hope it is helping her through this. Her tweets since have been some of the most heart-breaking things I have ever seen.
“I cannot rest. I cannot make Esther and William understand and I wish someone would please tell me what I am supposed to do without MM. Am so full of milk. Just want to hold my baby and feed her. I will never forgive myself but somehow I have to make life good for the twins. No one I know understands why I would be online right now but where else is there to go? MM shared our room so we cannot go back in there. Her cot is still there with all her things. I keep expecting her to be here. Esther and William do not understand. When we tried to explain at breakfast they just asked for more shreddies. How do you tell 2.5 year olds that their baby sister is dead? We can’t remember how to be a family of 4. My breast are aching. I have to have medicine to stop my milk. I have frozen some to make a keepsake x”
Yet even in such grief she is still thinking of her young twins & being a loving Mother to them:
“I need to try and rest if not sleep. For Esther and William. I am so grateful for Twitter tonight. I am in a quiet dark house x…I have made lunch for everyone today and we made blue play dough to put fish in.”
And still she thinks of others & not herself!
“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”.
I & many others have been very moved by this, moved to greater closeness, love & appreciation for our own children & family. Even out of her darkness shines light, light from the love of Matilda Mae, ‘star of the sea’.
Although I’ve never met her & probably never will, Jennie seems to be the most loving, caring mother & just a lovely person. She doesn’t deserve this; let’s do what we can to help her & her family through this.
Send her some love, say a prayer, whatever you feel moved to do.
Rest in peace, Matilda Mae: may your star continue to shine.
- Jennie Edspire Jennie’s twitter account
- Dear Matilda Mae: The night we found you sleeping From Jennie’s blog
- A star for a star A wonderful gesture of remembrance
- Bliss The Matilda Mae Precious Star Fund
UPDATE: I thought carefully about including this in my most viewed posts list. This was never about me or this blog, but about Jennie & Matilda Mae & family. The response to it however has been – by my standards at least – phenomenal. This is purely down to how Matilda Mae & her loving mother have touched the hearts of people all over the world and so I think it should be shown.