Inspiration is such an amazing phenomenon. Thinking back to when I first met my friend Lisa, it’s hard to imagine her not having brought her story of CMV into the conversation. It’s not so much that it defines her, as how the experience impacted her to such an extent that sharing it became a natural part of her evolution and becoming. Instead of allowing it to level her, she rose to meet it and bore into the need to understand how it is that she contracted a virus that had she known how to prevent, she would not have given birth to a virtually helpless child that died from her last seizure at age 16. Instead of slipping into the role of victim for this horrendous fate, she continues to find ways to celebrate and honor her daughter.
Lisa Saunders has galvanized a movement to enact legislation to compel childcare providers to be informed of and screened for the risk factors that she was so innocently and unnecessarily exposed to. She wants to shout to the world how she wishes she had known that as a mother of a toddler and caretaker of young children, she was at the highest risk for contracting CMV (cytomegalovirus), the #1 birth defects virus more common than fetal alcohol syndrome, with effects similar to that of the now notorious Zika. Had she known that there were extra yet simple precautions to take, things would have been, at the risk of understatement, quite different.
My affection for Lisa grew with my admiration, and largely because of it. She has published over ten books, created the Lisa Saunders Show (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NW5C1TZ2CI0) as a vehicle to support local causes, and began a Nice Girl Club to tap into the joy and resource of a community of like-minded women for which the only actual requirement is to be, well, “nice.” To recycle her experience into one of a mission to educate and help prevent this happening to others, well I for one was compelled to capture it.
I write songs from that precious heart space so that each new song becomes a gift to behold and share. My art form and passion is to take an experience and weave it into lyrics and melody to help carry a sentiment or message in a way that articles and talks alone cannot. So when I sat down at my piano I was delighted that what came through was “Had I Known (About CMV) ”, a song for Lisa’s daughter Elizabeth. Sad of course, yet hopeful. Hopeful in the way that life etches us to pave the way for others to improve our humanity, and bring about the changes that our personal experience is most capable of evoking.
My enthusiasm for this creation has become contagious. Together with some of the most magnificent musicians I know volunteering their talents to record this song, we are giving it wings to shine as what I like to think of as a musical beacon. Lisa’s mom was moved to donate funds to defray the cost of the recording process and we’re well on our way to having a platform to share the song in time for CMV Awareness month in June. May 9, Lisa will join me for a presentation of “Something to Sing About”, the title of my memoir in process and a presentation of songs written from various sources of inspiration. Lisa will be sharing the story behind her new book “Help Childcare Providers Fight CMV,” and I will share other songs that give meaning to having something to sing about.