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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Baby Jessica

In 1987, I was 13 years old, but I can clearly remember the media coverage of little Jessica McClure. It really seems like yesterday that I sat riveted to the TV set begging my mom to let me stay up and watch the rescue effort. I am not sure if other children that age were so invested in this tragedy, but I certainly couldn't pull myself away. Maybe it was my tendency to worry or maybe it was my love of babies, but....I just couldn't get that little girl out of my mind. It is so hard to believe that it has been 20 years....20 years...since I prayed for Baby Jessica.

Today I ran across this news article online, and the emotions came rushing back...only to affect me much more deeply than the originals. You see...I am a mother now...and being a mother literally changes everything. I am much more empathetic now, than I was as an egocentric teen. Today, I was able to put myself in shoes of the mother....and it was heart wrenching.

Here is a video of Jessica's Today Show interview this week. Watching this was so surreal....I am not certain I ever knew how much she went through physically after the incident. It makes sense, but I don't remember hearing a lot of follow-up, after she was rescued. It amazes me that someone had the foresight to set up a fund for her, with all the donations, but I wonder if she had not needed it through her medical journey. Seems strange to get the money now....what are your thoughts on this? If you had donated money 20 years ago, how would you have liked to see that money spent? Would you have liked to see it go to bettering her young life as an injured child, or go to the young mother she is now?

Many times over the years I have thought of Jessica. I can't count how many times I have seen the Movie, "Everybody's Baby: The Rescue of Jessica McClure" on TV, and each and every time a find myself knelt on the floor in a mess of tears, saying, "I hate this movie....I HATE this movie..." over and over. The scene of little Jessica responding to her mama's singing of "winnie the pooh" with her own tiny little voice singing along, just sends me into fits of hysterical crying. (watch at your own risk) It only gets worse when I remind myself that this REALLY happened. An 18 month old child was REALLY down there, and she really went through all that. Since becoming a mother, the thought of this happening is almost too much for my little heart to bear. I can NOT imagine. I nearly end up in the fetal position rocking myself to numbness just watching the on earth would I survive something like this happening to my child????

It is days like this that I can't wait for my daughter to wake up tomorrow morning, so that I can hug her tight, and say prayers for her safety. I am constantly walking that fine line between OVER protecting her, and letting her live an adventurous life. I find it horribly difficult to foresee all that could befall us, and struggle with knowing that I can't protect us from everything. Sometimes that lack of control burdens me. I need so badly to keep my precious Sugar Bear from harm, but in is not always in my hands. Day's like this....remind me...and leave me feeling a little helpless.

It is the men and women that spent days rescuing little Jessica, never giving up, that inspire me. The people that devote their lives to this very thing every day are heroes. It saddens me that the man who pulled Jessica from those dark depths, ended his own life shortly after. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was to blame. This breaks my heart. I can not imagine the fear and strain those folks were under, and even though it ended well, the stress was unbearable for some.....sigh...okay...I am depressing myself now, and that was not my intention.

And now....I am not sure what the purpose of this post was. I guess I just felt compelled to share how profound this "stranger's" accident, and subsequent rescue affected me so very emotionally in all these years. I also wonder if the world has changed so much in the last 20 years, that we will NEVER rally around a young family in despair again. I mean...what made Jessica and her family different than all the sweet young children who suffer each day. Why did the world sit in front of their TVs and pray for Jessica? Why did people send money....LOTS of money? Has the sense of community changed so much in the past 20 years, that there will never be an "everybody's baby" again? That makes me sad...not that I want another child to be in such peril, but sad that we don't get as emotionally connected to strangers anymore.

17 Live It or Love It:

Anonymous said...

Corey - I love your beautiful, beautiful heart! I wanted to encourage you though, that while there may not ever be another "everybody's baby" on a national level, people are still good, communities still care, and miracles still happen.

We saw such a miracle with our little girl. She needed a surgery that only a surgeon thousands of miles away was qualified to perform. Our community pulled together, prayed for her, raised a trust fund for her, mailed her cards, letters, gifts and pictures while she was in the hospital and recovering.

I'm the mom of an "everybody's baby" on a local level, and I'll never, never forget it. So smile in your heart and know that goodness and kindness still exist... Somehow the homegrown variety seems oh, so sweet when such big mountains are moved by such small communities who care.

Hugs to you!

Anonymous said...

As I was reading your post I was wondering exactly the same thing: what are precisely the circumstances, timing, or specific needs that prompts people into action. I wonder if, twenty years later, people today have seen hurt and pain on their televisions too much and too often to be stirred the same way they would've been two decades ago.

Not to mention the fact that we're also being trained to be "hip" to the fraudsters, too. For example, how many stories have we heard about donated cash not getting where it was supposed to go?

This afternoon Youngest Daughter came racing into the house from playing with her friends, charged up the stairs to her bedroom to scrape two dollars out of her piggy bank to buy a box of almond chocolates this teenager was selling door to door. The teen was raising money for a school trip, but I couldn't help thinking, based on the way he was dressed and by his skulking mannerisms, that he was just as likely out casing houses.

I hate being so cynical.

Jennifer Powell said...

I remember also learning about Baby Jessica (we are about the same age). But seeing the news article yesterday was much more profound as I also have a little girl just a little older than Jessica. I agree that we must reach out to people more - that is why we are here. Thanks for sharing my feelings in your words.

Deb said...

This story didn't rivet me the way it did you when it broke 20 years ago. But reading about her recently and realizing she was 18 months old (my son is 15 months) finally made it hit home. I can only imagine the number of mothers in the country who identified with that little girl's mom back then and opened their purse strings. I'd do the same thing today.

I think it takes empathy to rally people, and maybe I'm naive, but I still think it exists in this world. I don't know if hundreds of people would come to my son's rescue today in a situation like that, but one or two would be all I'd need to believe I'm right about humanity still being alive in the world.

mamashine said...

Maybe it doesn't happen anymore on a national level- troy's right about everyone being cynical now. I've seen it happen in the blog world lots of times though- people donate thousands to someone they've been reading about when help is needed.

I remember baby jessica too! I was 12. It affected my mom just like it did you.

Maude Lynn said...

If I had donated money back then, I'm sure that I would have wanted it to go to make little Jessica's life better right then. On the other hand, I can see why they might have set up the trust fund, instead. That way no one could accuse them of squandering the money intended for Jessica.

Laura said...

Great post, Corey! I don't remember the story all that well from back when it happened, but thinking about it now affects me in much the same way that it does you. Now that I'm a mom, stories like that just destroy me...

mama bear said...

Corey -
I was already sad enough before I read your blog. You could have warned me. Now I'm going to have to pull out my Ben n Jerry's and self medicate (seriously).

The donation question was a good one. After researching trust funds, I think that was a smart option for them to take for both tax purposes and gaining interest over the past two decades. The almost million dollars that she will inheret when she turns 25 was not anywhere close to that amount in 1987. However, don't get me wrong, it was still a lot of money back then as well. People can be generous and open hearted in the face of tragedies like these.

I believe in the good people. I think there is so much wonderful people in the world that people would rally to help if Sugar Bear fell in that Outhouse you have pictured in the previous blog. The news crews would be out and you would get interviewed by Matt Lauer and I for one would definetly donate to get her out of the @#$%hole.

Corey~living and loving said...

Thank you everyone. Great comments. Loving each one.

Even though I was a tad depressed about things last night, I never lose hope, and trust, and belief in the good in people. I just think that Troy might have hit the nail on the head...maybe we have just seen and heard so much saddness on the TV, not a single one stands out to us anymore.

I agree that we do see support and charity on the local level, and definatly in the blogging communities....but I just wondered if there could possibly ever be an "everybody's baby" in 2007???

Love this discussion everyone. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I am constantly attaching my kids' faces into every horrific story I hear. As a mother, I think it's difficult not to. It's what makes us great, empathetic people. I can't imagine being Jessica's mother at the time - I would have been an absolute wreck.

When Hannah was 4 and Jacob not quite 2, they hopped into our truck (without the keys and while we were out there with them) and managed to pop it into neutral, which sent it rolling down our driveway. We live on a very busy highway. All I could do as I saw their confused faces rolling backwards was scream, and I screamed LOUD. But my husband quickly ran after the truck and was able to yank open the door and apply the brake. I still have nightmares about that incident, four years later. Or like the time, not too long ago, when Bridget climbed over the baby gate and fell down our stairs. That could have ended so much worse than it did. You're right - you can only prepare so much (I thought I was doing a good thing with the baby gate, afterall). I always overthink these things, and it makes me a very antsy worry-wart.

david mcmahon said...

I was in Toronto at the time and remember it as if it were yesterday. I agree with you - as parents, our most fervent prayer is for God to keep our children safe.

We ask many things of Him, but none more intense than that.

Megan Cobb said...

I absolutely do believe there could be and sadly likely will be another "Everybody's Baby." It only takes a look around at the people in my small community who have held fundraisers and donated untold amounts of their money, time and services to benefit a little girl in need here. I think it takes a weird, more "acute" situation like Baby Jessica's fall to attract national attention, though. I'm just saying, and my answer is Yes.

Regarding the trust fund. That's an odd situation. I guess falling down old wells is probably too obscure a thing for them to set up a charity around it, but it seems like finding a way to use all that money for the common good of children who find themselves in immediate peril would have been a suitable option.

But I'm rambling. Where are the JEEP PICTURES? Did I miss them?

Anonymous said...

I remember that too. I think I had just recently turned 14 when it happened. It was and still is an amazing story that can't help but touch you.

MamaGeek @ Works For Us said...

Wow, I remember that too. Has it been that long? Isn't it truly amazing what perspective can do to you? Never say never.

Pam said...

I know from personal experience that people still do come together to rally around a family in need. I know that you have read about the Pollard family on my blog. They never made national news, but they are quite famous in our area, and there are people literally around the world praying for them.

... said...

great post. i haven't thought about jessica in a real long time. but i remember the tragic event very well. it was neat having the whole country engaged and praying.

"I also wonder if the world has changed so much in the last 20 years, that we will NEVER rally around a young family in despair again." ... i wonder, too.

Cuckoo said...

Corey, my first time here but definitely not the last.

Great & so touchy post. My heart felt out for her.
Yes, you are right when you say our most fervent prayer is for God to keep our children safe.

Keep posting.


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