The first year we participated in the March of Dimes’ March for Babies Maddie was alive, and we walked because we were so thankful for the role The March of Dimes had played in helping her overcome so much. The next year we walked in the aftermath of her loss, and the year after that we walked only days removed from the one year anniversary of her passing.
This year, I imagined, would be different. Maddie would be gone more than two years, and we wouldn’t be walking in the immediate throes of her life or death. Now we would be walking to remember and appreciate her life from a distance, just as we will for years to come. Despite my expectations, I nonetheless found participating in this year’s walk to be very, very difficult.
Don’t get me wrong… I am proud to have taken part in the walk and was so thankful that so many people joined us to honor Maddie and help fight premature birth. It’s just that there were many things at the walk that stirred up strong emotions.
One of the toughest things was seeing the endless stream of people who marched, like me, in T-shirts that featured a photo of a child who died prematurely.
Equally as hard was seeing the many former preemies who took part in the walk themselves. I’m ashamed to say that part of me felt jealous upon seeing these children. I couldn’t help but ask, “Why can’t that be Maddie?”
Thankfully, there wasn’t just sadness. There were also our friends and family who came to walk alongside us and hold us up when they needed to.
Another wonderful sight was Annie walking to honor her sister. Annie started the walk riding in Maddie’s favorite push car:
This was very meaningful to us because Heather and I originally bought the push car in hopes that Maddie would ride in it when she took part in her first March for Babies.
Later, Annie climbed out of Maddie’s push car and finished the route on her own two feet.
Participating in the walk may be hard, but I wouldn’t miss the chance to fight for Maddie and other premature babies for anything in the world. I’m so glad so many of you feel the same way.
Darling Mike and Mama Heather, of course it is still terribly hard and you still feel pain – you get to! I am glad you are honestly acknowledging your feelings, as I think anything else is horribly unfair to you. And jealousy for the former preemies who made it? Your Maddie should have been in that group and you were cheated. I don’t think you should feel any shame for saying that Mike – it only shows the depth of your love for your dear one. And by the way, Annabel appears to be able to conquer prematurity in one fell swoop, based on the confidence of her walk. As one more mama who had babies who benefitted from the work of the March of Dimes, thank you. Simply, thank you.
I was thinking of you all from afar on Saturday and especially thinking of your darling girl Maddie. Maddie looks so happy and proud in her special push car and how meanigful that her little sister had a ride in it on Saturday. Mike, you continue to be such an inspiration to so many of us all around the world, and you really set such a good example to your girls. Thinking of you, Heather, Maddie and Annie.
You’re all incredibly strong, even when you don’t feel like you are. That walk is emotional even for those who are touched indirectly so I can kind of understand your feelings. I teared up a few times at ours and I’m one of the ones who is only indirectly affected. I hope one day none of us are walking because the MOD is no longer needed. What a wonderful day that would be.
Annie is so beautiful and precious. The pictures of her in that purple tutu are FABULOUS!
From this internet stranger, continued support for all of you as you work your way through it all.
So glad to have been able to walk alongside you all again this year. I hope to make it a yearly tradition.
We walked with you guys too, only half way across the country. Our walk was on the same day. It has become a tradition we will do every year. ((hug))
Thank you for posting! Please never feel ashamed of your feelings. Of Course you wished it was Maddie walking there with her daddy’s hand in hers. Your her dad and you love her like no other could (except Heather). Too be honest, I felt the same way as we walked up here in Maddie’s name. I even found myself getting teary when I saw her beloved car and also when I read it was now over 2 yrs since you last saw her. It’s too long. It’s not fair….it hurts as a stranger who has come to adore and love your girl, I cannot imagine the heart ache you and Heather feel!!
I am so happy your walk went so well and you had so many people to support your family and honour your Maddie. She was and always will be 1 VERY Special Little Girl!!! Much like Annie, Maddie is so lucky to call you Daddy. I know she will always hold a special place in her heart for you and Heather, as much as you both do for her.
Thanks again for sharing Mike. Your words, much like Heather’s have a way of piercing your heart. You two have witness something no parent should Ever have to endure!!! Yet, at the same time, you both hold yourself with such Grace and Dignity. It makes me extremely honoured to call you and Heather my friend and I promise you both this….I will ALWAYS be there for you both!!
How bittersweet to see Annie in her sister’s car. Of course it is still hard for you guys- and we are all still here sending our love!
You have every right to feel/react the way you do in these situations.
Love you guys.
Congrats, you guys. You are so good about honoring Maddie’s memory even when it is so, so hard. Such good lessons for Annie. You guys should be proud. And both girls are so adorable in that little car!
Sending hugs and comfort your way. The pictures of Annie are amazing, her big sister would be so proud.
You guys are doing so much for other families out there who have lots a child by keeping this blog and sharing your story.
Kristin (MamaKK922) says:
Wish I could have been there alongside you guys. Maybe someday.
Holli (B's Mom) says:
What a wonderful tribute to your daughter.
Walking, along with the other work you do for March of Dimes and Friends of Maddie, is such a wonderful tribute to your beautiful Maddie. I think it is only natural that the day would stir up some hard memories, and hard feelings. I’m glad you had so many walking with you to support you and honor your beautiful daughter.
ok, this has nothing to do with the post (which is an awesome cause and ya’ll are awesome by the way) but are Mike’s toes painted or just ugly?! haha, sorry, I hate feet!
Great pictures, family bonding is really one of the best moments you can have in life. Maddie looks really thrilled happy in your pictures! Thanks for sharing the memorable portrait of your family!