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Little Layla Grace: Empathy in Twitter Time

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This morning, I was rushing out of the house to drop off my daughter to school when I saw a tweet that captured my attention because it expressed sadness and had some celebrity names associated with it.

So, I linked over to the blog and in 30 seconds read a few lines about 2 year old Layla Grace's mom rushing to get photos taken of her dying daughter. Being late to get my own daughter to school, I quickly re-tweeted the link and rushed out.

Because, you see, that's what seems to happen these days with Twitter and Facebook and (dare I say Intent) and all my online tools. The death of an Olympian, a post earthquake story from Haiti, a trainer who dies at Sea World. 140 characters, perhaps a link, that emotes a moment of empathy. Just requiring a moment of my attention, and then on to the next thing. The re-tweet, a donation to a worthy non-profit, and I feel a sense of being involved, doing something, supporting someone, making a difference in my time crunched, busy day.

But today, something shifted. Little Layla Grace stayed with me. I rushed around all day - school drop off to meetings to school pick up to errands to after school activities to dinner to bed time. And all day that little girls story, her mothers words about how they only had her for a few weeks and it was urgent to get photos haunted me.

Perhaps its because the last few days I have been awed by my daughters - you know how as parents sometimes the every day becomes the miraculous when you just realize how cute and amazing your kids are. I have had a week like that - just been taken with my daughters. So somehow this story just stuck today...

And, this evening I found that instead of taking ten efficient minutes to peruse twitter to get a quick fix of what's happening this instant, I immersed myself into the story of Layla Grace and her family. And, I gave them my full attention, my tears, my emotions. I took time to really feel sadness, empathy, love. I thought about watching your child suffer from cancer - Layla Grace has Stage 4 Neuroblastoma. I thought about my own cousin afflicted with cancer, about friends who have lost children, about loss and love and miracles and hope. I stroked my little ones hair as she quietly snored in her sleep, reading Layla Grace's mothers words about her daughters impending death.

"She has managed to do more Godly works in her short 2 years on earth than most people do in 80. I take comfort in the fact that when she returns home, she will be greeted by the Lord and hear "Well done good and faithful servant"."

And while the barrage of tweets flash on my screen, I know that this little girl has moved me in a way I cannot express. That somehow I feel connected to a family who lives far away, whose story I do not know, but for whom my heart is full of love and empathy.

And I pray that, Layla Grace, little angel, finally sleeps well and flies with abandon when she joins those angels laughing and playing in a world we can only imagine.

To read about Layla Grace, visit http://laylagrace.org and you can follow her moms tweets at http://www.twitter.com/laylagrace.

To read more articles by Mallika Chopra, visit Intent.com.