Stone in a Tin Cup


I wish I could say that I am socially aware enough that I have been following this organization for years- but the truth is I had never heard of until I watched the CNN Hero awards in November and learned about Maggie Doyne. After that, she was on my radar and I loosely began following the amazing things this young woman is doing in the world.

A mere newbie to her work, I can’t say I was entrenched in her cause- or had even made a single donation. I was just aware and watching.  One of the primary feel good stories that Maggie had shared with CNN was that of her special bond with her not yet two year old  adopted son Ravi. I watched a video clip of how he, as a malnourished newborn whose mother had died, had been nursed back from the brink of death to become the pudgy giggling child they caught on camera. I think everyone that was introduced to this beaming light of a child fell in love. And then yesterday I paid dearly for my curiosity-  when these words from Blinknow came across my newsfeed.

“We are very saddened to share the tragic news that Ravi, one of our beloved and cherished children at Kopila Valley, passed away yesterday. Our words cannot begin to express the sadness and grief our family is feeling at this moment. Ravi was the light of our BlinkNow family and his story of triumph resonated with people across the world. Our immediate duty, of course, is to help Ravi’s precious family, Maggie, staff, and volunteers cope with this tragic accident. We appreciate all of your support and understanding during this most difficult time. We will be able to provide more information in the days ahead.”

And then Maggie posted her own words here.

I don’t think I have taken a single full deep breath since reading it.

After digesting Maggie’s heart wrenching words, I felt sick. And as I took the time to look more deeply at the entirety of this woman’s mission, and went back and read her old posts and became acquainted with the manner in which she shared her precious boy Ravi with the world- the gravity of her loss seemed too much to comprehend. In my 25 years of doing grief therapy, I have spent time with far too many parents who are making their way through the anguish of losing a child. Maggie is eloquent at describing this uniquely searing pain. Although all grief is harrowing, losing a child is unique- it is crushing-like nothing else can be.

Every time I sit with a grieving parent, their loss strips me of all sense of safety in the world. I always emerge from our time shaken to my core- and promising myself to be more aware of the precious moments I get to share with my own children- and to hug them more, and to make more time in my day to really know who they are and to appreciate every nuance of their being. I make this promise – and then life happens- and moving fast and juggling roles trumps being awake and my days dissolve back into business as usual. How is it I wonder, that a sleepy mom like me can walk through each day with an intact safe little family to call mine- and a mother like Maggie Doyne cannot? And it shakes me to know that it is only by the grace of God that I, we, have come through another day unscathed by the fates.

On most days I feel pretty good about myself as a human being- but as a mother I often feel overwhelmed. (I think most working moms do.) When I read about a mother like Maggie Doyne it forces me to re-assess my rather pitiful sense of overwhelm. Why nine times out of ten, do I insist on doing the dinner dishes instead of playing catch with Ajay? (Albeit ‘catch’ means with a football, in the house, near the china hutch….) Why can’t I let the dishes sit overnight and pick up the ball sooner? Why don’t I block out my work schedule and take my young adult children to more movies or to lunch more often? WHY? Because I fall asleep to the truth and I start believing my own mantra that I do not have enough time….

Maggie Doyne lives in housing I likely cannot even imagine, somewhere in Nepal- and she probably never yells at one of her 51 children about being mindful of the china hutch. She clearly exudes a monumental amount of maternal love daily- yet, she has lost her baby. Her impeccable ability to love and nurture, and take in, and heal – did not shield her from this loss. The selfish part of me shudders and wonders where on the roulette wheel of life does that leave the moms like me? Moms who show up and do our best but have 14 other hats that we wear each day that make us grumpy and impatient and unable to briefly suspend our terribly busy selves so that we can really appreciate the moments we are given… The kind of moments that Maggie Doyne will never again have with her precious Ravi?

Since the moment I read Maggie’s words yesterday, her loss has rattled around in my gut like a stone in a tin cup. The rattling keeps me awake- it reminds me that the dishes can wait but the snuggles cannot.

What a gift we are given when we are nudged awake by the story of another- when we are given the selfish luxury of letting another’s stone rattle around in our tin cup. The most loving thing we can do for the Maggie’s of the world, for ourselves, and for our children- is to let that stone keep rattling – waking us up to the truth that life is fragile- and time is precious- and no matter how good we are- tomorrow is never a guarantee.


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