The original email Madeline Robb sent to my wife: SUBJ: Hey

Hey Megan 

It must be so hot there right now! I've spent two full summers in that Florida heat and humidity.. ah! 

How is the process of settling in going? 

You and Rowan are looking great! 

I just noticed something - Rowan's left eye is reflecting in some of her pictures (esp the ones where she's in her pink t-shirt). 

The reason I'm writing this is because an acquaintance of ours noticed the same thing in the pictures of their child and it was found to be serious. 

Don't panic, I just wanted to suggest that you have her checked by an optometrist from the experience our acquaintances had with their child. 

I'm not saying it definitely IS anything but she's such a precious girl I had to mention it. 

Here is a link to something - but before you look - I'm not trying to scare you.  Keep me posted! Maddie x

Our Story

What is interesting here, particularly in light of where this presentation will end, is Madeline's hesitancy to send the link. She didn't really know us at all, and she was sincerely concerned with causing us undue panic. In interviews with Inside Edition, Reader's Digest, USA Today and other publications, Madeline consistently references the difficulty she faced in composing this email. [Note 1] We can read it, too. The phatic and tense introductory lines seeking to form some trace of identification, the awkward and impossible transition, the repeated avoidance of certitude. But, fortunately, courageously, miraculously she did send the link.

Which brings us back to the grumpy husband, the hysterical wife, and the shaking laptop.

My immediate response (likely ironic to anyone familiar with my research agenda) was, "Are you going to trust everything you read on the internet?" I was annoyed. Not because my daughter might have some long, impossible-to-pronounce disease. I knew my daughter was fine. I was annoyed because I knew my morning of shoes and ice cream was about to be suffocated by an unnecessary trip to the doctor's office.