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.