So I got up at the crack of dawn only a few days later, on Tuesday morning, and boarded a commuter flight from New York to Washington, DC. I found my way to the hotel where everyone was staying, all by 10 a.m! One by one, I began to finally meet the women who I have travelled this journey with for over a year, a road that I had been walking alone for over 6 years prior to finding MAED (Mothers Against Eating Disorders), a secret Facebook group comprised of over 800 moms on this journey. In our day to day life, how many people really understand what we are going through when our child is suffering from an eating disorder? In an instant, I was surrounded by moms (and some dads too!), and all I had to do was to look into their eyes to know they get it. It was magical.
As the day rolled on, we could see how much work and planning had gone into the event. A stage appeared right there on the lawn of the Capitol. There were posters and roses and a panel of distinguished speakers. There was music , dancing and snacks! As I sat on the lawn listening to the speakers, I felt a wave of emotion that stayed with me the entire afternoon. Tears welled up and trickled down my face at random moments. We soldier on, day in and day out, trying to keep it together, but here I was, in the presence of some who have lost everything to this horrific disease. I was humbled by their presence. There are moments that will stay with me forever. Those are the moments sitting one on one with a mom while she tells you her story. Each story was unique, each one heartbreaking. I am privileged to have been in their company.
We have to keep fighting so that we build knowledge and understanding. In the old days, mothers lost their children to infections and childhood diseases that have largely been eradicated because of the advancement of medical science. We have to keep fighting so that moms of the future don’t have to suffer the losses of our generation. Someday there will be early intervention, comprehensive treatment and recovery support. There will be no judgment and no stigma. There will be better medications and science to support their use. As Patrick Kennedy said, an illness in your brain should be treated the same as an illness anywhere else in your body.
We cannot afford to stand still, we have to keep moving. When I went to the March I saw how tirelessly some work on behalf of all. Whatever havoc ED wrought in their lives, they did not turn away from it, but instead they rallied and they created this amazing event to benefit all affected by this disease. If you ever feel cynical about how government works, come to a Mom March. You can see how we all have access to our government officials, how they represent us and how they want to hear from us.
I boarded my plane at 10 pm that night to head back to Connecticut. I was not able to stay for Lobby Day but I have been so impressed with the awesome reports and photos from the efforts of that day. Thanks again to all the organizers, sponsors and partners. See you next year – MOM MARCH 2016!