The power of the written word was displayed in full force yesterday as the world said goodbye to dear little Matilda Mae. Never have I been more sure that this internet and Twitter thing is more powerful than any news medium that has gone before it. Jennie, David, their families and Matilda Mae’s story has touched the hearts of so many people, people who never met her, people who didn’t even know of her while she was on this earth and people all over the world. Within days of her passing her story was spoken of on a local radio station in Australia. Jennie’s words, her wonderfully and beautifully written words have reached out and gripped a cyber space of Mummy’s, Daddy’s and families who have wanted to reach right back out and hug them close, tell them how much they care and do something, anything, to make this all just a little easier for Matilda Mae’s grieving Mummy and Daddy.
We most of us know Matlida Mae through Jennie’s blogs. We read about her birth, her growing, her sitting up, her learning to crawl, her life… Her little life which was far, far too short. Jennie’s words gave us an insight into this lovely little girl’s family and aren’t we all so very lucky that Jennie was so generous and allowed us that. I was actually even luckier and although very briefly, I did get to meet baby Tilda. I met her a few times when she was just a bump and Jennie and I soaked up our pregnancy retreat weekend together and then I met her when she was 5 and a half months old at the baby show, sat on Jennie’s knee and smiling at everyone around her. All those many words which have been written by all those many people, about Matilda’s fantastically captivating smile are all absolutely true. She had a smile which lit up the room, made you smile right back at her and one which was born from having this wonderful Mummy of hers in Jennie.
We also read on her blog about Jennie’s worries. Like any Mother she would sometimes write that she felt she wasn’t being the best Mummy she possibly could be. Yesterday, as well as visibly seeing the power of the written word, we could also see that her worries were exactly just that. Worries. Jennie and David proved that they are, absolutely, the most wonderful Mummy and Daddy. Matilda was so loved, so cherished and so looked after, right until the end of her last journey on earth. I saw a Mummy so broken that she was almost disappearing as she walked down the aisle ahead of her daughter, carrying her bunnies and a wooden star. She was being held up by her best friend who had enveloped her in a moving embrace which carried her to the front of the church. To be that heartbroken but to still make those steps and Jennie was absolutely being the best Mummy little Matilda Mae could have ever hoped for. Behind Jennie, David walked, flanked by his brothers but carrying Matilda in her soft lambs wool cocoon to the front of the church on his own. In that moment he was the stronger one, both physically with his strong arms wrapped around his little girl and emotionally too, for in those moments, although steps behind her, he was also holding Jennie as she cried. Carrying Jennie by being able to carry Matilda. I cried as I watched this Daddy, with tears falling down his cheeks, carrying his baby to give her back to god. We all saw that Matilda Mae couldn’t have had a better or more loving Daddy either.
And then at the front of the church I saw these parents looking after each other and letting go at different points. If Jennie was sobbing then David was strong and later when they walked into the venue to meet family and friends, David was quiet, walking slowly and he looked like a lost Daddy but Jennie was able to smile and greet everyone for them both. They were perfect partners for each other yesterday, complimenting each other’s emotions and I have no doubt this is what they are like every single day. Wonderful parents who will always be wonderful parents to their children including Matilda Mae. The words of the funeral, the many more wonderful words written by both Jennie and David, showed that Matilda was so loved and of course, will never, ever be forgotten. I know Jennie is worried people will forget, she knows she won’t of course but she is worried other people might forget her amazing, beautiful and adored baby. But I feel certain she will never be forgotten by anyone who has been touched by her story…
Jennie will continue to write about Matilda Mae and aren’t we so very lucky that she will continue to share her life and her children with us. She does it so beautifully and the funeral was absolutely no exception. She included her older twins Esther and William just as I know she will include Matilda for ever more. I watched, along with the rest of the guests, all the carefully thought out picture montages and listened to Jennie’s recorded words, her poem, her thoughts. We cried with the sadness and injustice of it all, we laughed at the funny pictures of Matilda screwing up her face and flapping her arms, we sat stunned at the fact that despite this having happened over a month ago and us being sat in the church celebrating her life, we still couldn’t believe something so truly awful had happened.
I watched a family so close that they managed to stand up and deliver readings, read a story and sing the hymn which means so much to them. I heard the Vicar, their family friend, talk to us with such care and speak of Matilda in such a perfect way. And I listened to the carefully chosen words from two other bloggers as they spoke to Jennie’s family about why the on-line community means so much to Jennie. They read out a piece from another blogging friend of Jennie’s and I don’t think the message could have been delivered in a better way. I feel certain Jennie and David’s family will now, if they didn’t before, understand why they have been able to take so much comfort from the words of complete strangers. Because we, the on-line community are of course not strangers at all, we know each other and care about each other, we are true friends and this is all through the power of words.
#MatildaMae trended on Twitter on her funeral eve and during the day too. We all changed our profile pictures to that of a design made by another friend, a design of stars and those stars lit up our Twitter feeds. At the venue afterwards Jennie had a live Twitter board and as I sat with a table of other bloggers and on-line friends watching the many, many words roll in, we each took turns to break down and have a little cry while the others hugged us and we did in person what we do every day on-line, looked after each other. The power of words brings people together, the power of words has helped Matilda’s family and Matilda’s Mummy’s words will go on to help other people too. Matilda will never be forgotten, not by any of us. I know that there are times I will always think of her. On her birthday will be a day I will, no matter where I am or what I’m doing, think of Matilda, wonder how Jennie and David are and send a little prayer to heaven for the little girl who should have been celebrating and blowing out more and more candles each year on the same day that my son will be doing just that. I wouldn’t ever forget that little girl and this year, as we will be at the beach on that special day, I shall write her name in the sand. Her name written down, a simple word, but words do mean so much don’t they.