Tied up on the front seat of the ambulance as her daughter lay injured in the back, Kaye Steinsapir took out her cell phone and began to knock.
“Please. Please. Please,” she wrote partly. “Everyone PRAYER for my daughter Molly. She had an accident and had a brain injury.” Late that day, in Trung Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, miss tweeted her message.
Her daughter, 12, was injured while riding a bike with a friend near the family home in Los Angeles. Ms. Steinsapir, 43, said she was embracing a tool that could quickly bring her plea to as many audiences as possible.
“I was very helpless,” she said in an interview on Thursday. “I just want to broadcast it to anyone who can lift Molly up in prayer and also lift me up in prayer.”
The hospital’s Covid-era rules initially prevented her and her husband, Jonathan Steinsapir, from being with Molly’s bed together. On the first day of admission, Mr. Steinsapir stayed at home with their two sons, while Mrs. Steinsapir stayed with their daughter in the intensive care unit.
“In the hospital, there were so many hours of waiting, waiting, waiting and nothing could be done,” she said. In the most confused or uncertain moments, she turned to the Internet. Steinsapir, a lawyer, as well as her husband, said: “Lots of people have shared brain trauma survival stories.
“The hope all these strangers give us is what sustains us. If we don’t have that hope, I don’t know how we can do what we need to do, to Molly’s parents and the parents of our sons, ”she said.
She doesn’t have much experience on Twitter. Like many other parents, she shared family pictures in a small circle on Facebook and Instagram but in the months leading up to the most recent presidential election, she started spending more time on Twitter. , follow news sources and politicians. She hardly knows how to tweet.
When she turned to her phone to express her determination, pain and fear, she never thought she would start a 16-day conversation between thousands of strangers from all over the world about life, death, family, religion and rituals.
Alana Nichols, a doctor and lawyer in Birmingham, Ala., checked into Ms. Steinsapir every day. “As a mother, I’m drawn to her vulnerability and strength, and how she manages to turn Twitter into a tool of positive connection and hope,” she said.
This year, Dr Nichols said, the election, the most recent Black Material reactions and the pandemic have turned the internet into a market of anger and vitality.
“Social media can be very malicious and doom can leave you in this completely helpless state,” she said. “But Kaye gave us a way to help. She told us that we can pray for her and her daughter. Our nation is divided because big things are happening right now and here you have another tragedy – but it has the opposite effect. “
The coronavirus pandemic has left Americans grappling with the colliding forces of isolation and grief, with technology and social media increasingly entangled in the rituals of death. Covid’s farewells are often spoken via FaceTime, with hospital staff using their phones and tablets to help family members approximate bedside time and final goodbyes. .
Broadway stage actor Nick Cordero fell ill with a coronavirus in March and was hospitalized for months before his death in July. Amanda Kloots, his wife, has drawn millions of global online audiences. vow, sing, honor and finally mourn her. “I just want to share because grief is so important to talk about it, especially at the present time where a lot of people are suffering,” she said in a video.
Late last year, model and actress Chrissy Teigen created a national dialogue about the comfort of our culture by publicly sharing about death and tragedy when she posted Instagram pictures. Hospital photo of her, her husband John Legend and their baby, premature. and die.
Ms. Teigen wrote in an essay later that month: “I cannot express that I don’t care how much you hate the pictures. “I don’t care that it’s something you won’t do. I lived, I chose to do it, and more than anything, these pictures are not for anyone but people already living like this or curious enough to wonder if things like this are how. These pictures are only for those who need them ”.
Laurie Kilmartin, a writer for “Conan,” directly tweeted her mother’s last days before her death of coronavirus complications in June. Ms. Kilmartin tweeted about her father’s demise and death from lung cancer in 2014 and feels even more motivated to do so when her mother is about to die, because of the combination of grief and isolation. “The terrible thing about Covid is that you are completely alone,” she said. “All you have is your phone.”
Ms. Kilmartin has followed Steinsapir’s story on Twitter and understands, from her experience, her desire to be shared in real time. “Under normal circumstances, there will be 20 family members taking turns to support her husband and wife,” said Ms. Kilmartin. “I’m glad she has the Internet to take her hand.”
Steinsapir also explained to her followers why she let strangers join the experience. “Writing and sharing my pain helps me alleviate it,” she said Written. “As I sit here in this sterile room for hours and hours, your messages of hope make me feel less lonely. Even my husband, who is very personal, likes to read them ”.
In a short diary, Steinsapir clearly describes the realities of witnessing a medical crisis, marked by hours waiting for her daughter to wake up and then be breached. by sudden disaster.
She praises her daughter’s doctors and nurses, cares for her two young sons, Nate and Eli, and tells the internet all about her daughter, an environmentalist and love animals, who chose to be vegetarian before she was in kindergarten, who was dedicated to Judaism and feminism (she used the pronoun “she / she” for God) and dreamed of becoming a stage actress and a politician.
Like Ms. Teigen, Mrs. Steinsapir has resisted her critics. “Trust me, I wish I was doing anything but desperately praying for my daughter’s saving prayers on Twitter”, she replied.
But mostly she calls for support through her prayers. The focus on God is part of the attraction Melissa Jones, a mother in Locust Grove, Ga., to read every tweet and reply, and even befriend her followers.
“The belief she knocked out of me,” said Ms. Jones, who cried when talking about a family she said she fell in love with. “The Internet is a horrible place now, Trump’s years are divided and people have been so ugly for the past four years, but Molly’s spirit has brought everyone faith and goodness.”
Mrs. Jones has also faced the possibility of losing a child, when her son is seriously injured. “My son was in a coma for 11 days and I had that experience wondering, ‘Will my baby wake up and can I come back? I know exactly where Kaye is, ”she said.
On February 15, Ms. Steinsapir announced that Molly had passed away.
“While our hearts are broken in a way we feel like we can never heal, we feel comforting to learn that Molly’s 12 years are filled with love and joy. We are extremely lucky to be her parents, ”she wrote.
She agreed to speak to a reporter amid a family mourning, she said, because Molly wanted her to comfort the millions of Americans who lost loved ones in the past year.
“I want to inform everyone that we honor everyone who is grieving and want to share with them the light and love that has been shown to Molly,” she said.