I have decided to leave Just ‘Cause.
There. I said it. This will be my last year with Just ‘Cause.
Let me start from the beginning so I can explain the end. Noreen was my neighbor for many, many years. I watched her fall in love with Monhegan and start a family just across the way from me. Birding, hiking, parenting, whatever she did, she was always a bundle of energy and enthusiasm. Even when she was diagnosed with breast cancer she didn’t slow down. Even when that cancer spread into her bones, her nodes, her everything she didn’t lose that spark. Even after she lost her ten year battle she continued to inspire and motivate from beyond the grave. 14 years ago she helped found Just ‘Cause after walking in another 3-day, 60-mile charity walk. After that experience She wanted to create something that would make a difference on the ground floor not from thirty thousand feet. You donate a dollar, the charity gets that dollar, not a percentage of it. No admin salaries. No overhead. One hundred percent compassionate grassroots. Zero percent bigwig corporation.
I started walking for Just ‘Cause just three months after Nor’s memorial. I joined strictly for her and because of her. I had no intentions of continuing beyond that year. Consider this: I’m shy. All the other walkers knew each other; they were raw with the pain of losing Nor. They clung to one another and created a cocoon of privacy. I knew no one and walked alone for much of the 60 miles. I’ll say it again – I’m shy. Each walker is require to raise $1,000 so asking anyone for anything is not easy for me. Then there’s this: I’m a runner at heart. Walking anywhere is slow, painful, dull. I was so far out of my comfort zone just about everything about Just ‘Cause killed me that first year. By the end of my first walk I had blisters, rashes and unmet goals. I was left with a heavy heart and the bitter taste of disappointment in my mouth.
I don’t know why but I decided to walk the next year, this time for me, myself and moi. Maybe it was my own cancer scare, but whatever. This time we would train properly, we would fund raise effectively, we would make new friends. We would leave Just ‘Cause with a little more satisfaction in our soul. Only this: I didn’t count on my soul being irrevocably changed after year two. Suddenly I found myself signing on for life. Well, more accurately the next five years. Each year was a little easier, a little more fun. I made friends and learned how to walk without blisters.
Then came this year. Year seven was the season of signs. When I delayed registering for no apparent reason I saw it as a sign. When I delayed sending that first fund raising letter for no apparent reason I saw it as a sign. When I didn’t unpack the training shirts (still haven’t) I saw it as a sign. Signs getting bigger; getting louder. Pretty soon they’ll be flashing neon. I have noticed a change. I’m not “hawking the walk.” I’m not training. I’m not anything Just ‘Cause. Not this time.
I can’t articulate what this feels like. I guess it’s kind of like a train running out of steam on an incline. My enthusiasm is slowing. It hasn’t ground to an exhausted halt, but the energy is definitely dragging. I have yet to go on a single training walk. I have yet to post pleas on FB. So many I Have Yet To fill-in-the-blank…So just like that, it’s over.
So, now comes the hard part – how to say goodbye. I finally wrote it in my fund raising letter and I’ve admitted as much to family. But, what about my Just ‘Cause family? When do I say goodbye to them? Because I have made friends. Because I have loved many moments of the walk. Because I believe in the cause of Just ‘Cause. I also believe it’s just time to let go.