While her daughter was hospitalized, one mother built more room for our national grief.
Strapped in the front seat of an ambulance as her daughter lay injured in the back, Kaye Steinsapir took out her phone and began to type.
Her daughter, 12, was injured while riding her bicycle with a friend near the family’s home in Los Angeles. Ms. Steinsapir, 43, said she was grasping for a tool that could quickly get her plea to as wide an audience as possible.
“I was so helpless,” she said in an interview on Thursday. “I just wanted to broadcast to anyone who could lift Molly up in prayer and could lift me up in prayer, too.”
The hospital’s Covid-era rules initially prevented her and her husband, Jonathan Steinsapir, from being at Molly’s bedside together. The first day of the hospitalization, Mr. Steinsapir spent the days with their two sons at home, while Ms. Steinsapir remained with their daughter in the intensive care unit.
“In the hospital, there were so many hours of waiting, waiting, waiting, and nothing to be done,” she said. In the darkest moments of panic or uncertainty, she reached out on the internet. “So many people shared stories of survival from traumatic brain injury,” said Ms. Steinsapir, who is a lawyer, as is her husband.
“The hope that all these strangers gave us was what sustained us. If we didn’t have that hope, I don’t know how we would have been able to do what we needed to do, to parent Molly and parent our boys,” she said.
She didn’t have much experience on Twitter. Like many parents, she had shared family photographs to a small circle on Facebook and Instagram but in the months before the most recent presidential election, she began to spend more time on Twitter, following news sources and politicians. She barely knew how to tweet.
In turning to her phone to express her determination, anguish and fear, it never occurred to her that she would begin a 16-day-long conversation between thousands of strangers from around the world about life, death, family, religion and ritual.
“Social media can be so toxic and the doomscrolling phenomenon can put you in this place of total helplessness,” she said. “But Kaye gave us a way to help. She told us we could pray for her and her daughter. Our nation is divided on every big thing happening right now and here it is you have yet another tragedy — but it has had the opposite effect.”
Ms. Kilmartin followed Ms. Steinsapir’s story on Twitter and understood, from her own experiences, the desire to share in real time. “In a normal situation there would be 20 family members rotating in to support her and her husband,” Ms. Kilmartin said. “I’m glad she had the internet to hold her hand.”
In what became a short-form diary, Ms. Steinsapir provided unvarnished description of the realities of witnessing a medical crisis, marked by endless hours of waiting for her daughter to wake up that are then punctured by sudden calamity.
She heaped praise on her daughter’s doctors and nurses, worried about her two young sons, Nate and Eli, and told the internet all about her daughter, an environmentalist and animal lover who chose to be a vegetarian before she was in kindergarten, who was devoted to Judaism and feminism (she used “she/her” pronouns for God) and who dreamed of being a theater actress and a politician.
Like Ms. Teigen, Ms. Steinsapir pushed back against people who criticized her. “Believe me, I wish I were doing anything but desperately begging for prayers to save my daughter on Twitter,” she replied.
“The faith she had hit me,” said Ms. Jones, who cried when speaking about a family she said she has come to love. “The internet right now is a horrible place, the Trump years were very divisive and people have been just so ugly for the last four years, but Molly’s spirit brought out the faith and the goodness in people.”
Ms. Jones had also faced the possibility of losing a child, when her son was critically injured. “My son was in a coma for 11 days and I had that experience of wondering, ‘Is my child going to wake up and am I going to have them back? I knew exactly where Kaye was,” she said.
On Feb. 15, Ms. Steinsapir announced that Molly had died.
“While our hearts are broken in a way that feels like they can never be mended, we take comfort knowing that Molly’s 12 years were filled with love and joy. We are immensely blessed to be her parents,” she wrote.
She agreed to speak to a reporter amid her family’s mourning, she said, because Molly would want her to console the millions of Americans who have lost loved ones in the last year.
“I want to communicate to people that we honor everyone who is grieving and want to share with them the light and love that was shown to Molly,” she said.
Source: New York Times