I’ve never been a big advocate of “causes.” This is probably a failing on my part. But for most of my life affinity to any specific cause felt worthwhile, but contrived. I didn’t understand with particular clarity why this was, but I didn’t question it. I continued to endorse those causes for which my support was solicited. But my involvement was always based more on an effort to be a good Samaritan than on personal investment.
With time and the experience it provides, I’ve come to understand the source of my detachment: Youth.
When we are young our wingspan is small. We have been fewer places, encountered fewer people, and (happily) been touched by less pain and fewer tragedies. As we walk down various paths in life our exposure – to joy, wisdom, folly, and pain – increases. And all of these experiences come with a face attached. It is that process which takes the abstract and intangible “cause” and makes it something highly personal to which we feel intimately connected.
I wrote several weeks ago about IEP’s rocky start in life, including his admission to the NICU immediately after his birth. We were among the lucky in that he was full term and has suffered no long-term effects of his neonatal diagnoses. But not all families are as fortunate. In the time we spent at his bedside in the NICU we also had the opportunity to see babies whose start in life was much more tenuous; babies born three months early; babies hooked up to tubes and wires for weeks and months, instead of days; babies whose futures could be riddled with lingering health problems related to prematurity.
Many of you know of Madeline Spohr, who died at seventeen months of age just over a year ago due to complications from prematurity. I have followed her family’s arduous journey through grief and birth for many months now, and in the process have become aware of the March for Babies sponsored by the March of Dimes. The March for Babies raises awareness and money to fight the causes of prematurity.
Between my own experience in the NICU, and the intimate details of the Spohr family’s pain conveyed by Madeline’s mother Heather, I have come to feel personally connected to the cause of prematurity specifically, and struggling children in general. And so it was with both excitement and sadness that I jumped at the opportunity to participate in my local March of Dimes chapter’s March for Babies when a friend of mine suggested it. It was with additional excitement and sadness that I registered as a part of Team Maddie to honor Madeline Spohr’s beautiful memory.
Part of me misses the days when I didn’t understand – at a visceral, rather than academic level – how people come to be passionate about various causes. We become passionate because we have felt pain. And through our involvement we endeavor to spare others the very pain we have endured. My experiences and pain pale in comparison to that of many others. But it is enough to spur me into action.
In two weeks I will join many other parents who believe in this cause. Some of these parents will march with their children. Others won’t have that luxury. I have pledged $300 toward this cause and am eager to see my pledge fulfilled. To that end, I will personally donate two dollars for each comment left on this post. If you would like to contribute an additional donation to my pledge, please e-mail me at tendollarthoughts (at) gmail (dot) com and I will connect you with my donation page.