Last year on heart day, I put a lot of emotion into my blog post. I shared with you the joys and struggles it was to be a recipient and how challenging it was to find joy in what is such a difficult situation. If you don’t remember it or have never read it, please do so here.
As it was last year, it never gets easier to find words that are right and fitting to the occasion. It’s a day of joy and grief… in some ways a day I wish would fly by without so much acknowledgement but in the same thought a day I want to shout from the roof top. I spent a lot of time in quiet today and I also spent a lot of time in tears. That said, I write a letter to my donor family every single year… but this year will be the first year I will ever share it with someone else. Please bare with me and be patient as you read through it. And if you’re my donor family… I hope this reaches you knowing that I am desperate to have you know how incredibly grateful I am for you, you taught me more than I can ever put into a single letter— or 18.
To a family I have never had the honor of meeting, yet have the humility of carrying your loved one with me,
Today marks 18 years. Long years for you, I’m positive. Yet these 18 years have gone by much easier for me. I wonder myself who he would have became. I wonder whether they’d be married and have many children. Would they have gone to college or excelled at some great gift of talent. Golly, I even wonder who they’d become in terms of careers and passions. I know 18 years ago and many days earlier that you never imagined that you’d be wondering such things so soon. I know that as a parent you feel slighted… no parent should lose a child so soon. You missed all the years ahead of them. It truly is heartbreaking. If you are a grandparent you ache for the noise in your home and all the special things you did before this dreaded day. If you are a brother or sister you have likely felt the guilt yourself. You’ve felt the ache of losing your best friend and maybe you have felt the anger of knowing that their heart is beating… but they are not breathing any longer. If you’re a friend of this sweet child you have gone on to graduate high school, go to college, and start a family clinging to the memories as they grow distant and more vague. I know. Because I have placed myself in each of your shoes. As a mom now, I can’t even begin to process your grief. I can’t imagine how it feels to lose that which you cherish most. I can’t begin to process the thought of my daughter meeting Jesus while someone else carries her beating heart. I cry at the simple but such difficult thought. I see my own mom interact with her granddaughter and understand with just a glimpse of how she loves. She misses E’s laughter and the way she can storm through her house in seconds making the biggest mess and this miss comes as soon as we go home that day knowing we’ll be back and usually as early as tomorrow. As a sister, I can’t imagine losing my best friend. I would feel guilty that I got to live, if she didn’t. I’d feel angry that someone else was living with the heart that should have kept my sister alive. As a friend, I can understand holding tight to memories. When that person is no longer there it’s all you have… and you feel guilty that you can’t remember every detail of them or that she doesn’t cross your mind as often as she should. I have placed myself in your shoes countless and I do mean countless times.
There are no words I can offer to you to ease any of your aches. In your own right, I hope you found AMPLE time to grieve for this sweet child today. In so many ways, I have. The heart that beats in my chest is so strong. It has given me a life I never could have dreamt of. I am a mom today. My daughter said “awesome” today when seeing Christmas lights and giggled with me in the early hours of the morning. I giggled too and this says so much as I’m not a morning person. When she giggles first on early mornings, I normally and oh so selfishly roll over and tell her to “close your eyes baby, mommy needs just five minutes longer.” 🙂 Today I woke and giggled too. She greeted me with breakfast today and as she gave me my hash browns she followed suit with “Happy Heart Day.” She was coached by her sweet father and I couldn’t help but grin. I can not wait til E is old enough to understand what that really means. I can’t wait to teach her what selflessness looks like and to explain all it’s importance. I want to show her all the reasons we celebrate – not just mommies chance to be her mommy and many other things but heart day also is in celebration of the life that carried this heart first. We celebrate his life too.
With every letter this gets so much more difficult to write. Not because I don’t have words but for each new year I am granted, I find it harder to condense all I want to say into a single letter. I will be forever grateful for your decision to be so selfless in some of your darkest hours. This year I have spent hours and many of those into the wee hours of the morning searching for you with my not so skilled way of doing so. I’ve missed you more this year than I ever have before and this year as per the past years, I have longed to hug your neck and show you what your decision has done for me. I didn’t just get a second chance at this crazy life… I was given life altogether. I learned from you what faith and mercy looks like. I learned from you the idea of grace and what a precious hard concept to grasp. I learned from you how to love and even more how to love my daughter. You have taught me to not take my days for granted and not to take those around me for granted either. To not only love fully but love overwhelmingly never holding back. You’ve taught me that life is hard and you fall into places that you don’t always want to be… the beauty in that is not how we got there but how we rise above and come out of those places not focused on our own selfish needs. I strive to be the family you are. To live my life selflessly giving to those around me more than I have to give and loving more than I sometimes want to. I found myself learning forgiveness in places where it was easy to say no to. I have lived well but more importantly I have love living. Thank you is not nearly a sufficient word choice… but it is all I have. Thank you again today as I remember you and dwell on you more than all the other days of the year. I think of your family and the one sweet child who carried this heart before me often and not a day goes by that I don’t feel you beating within me. As I fall in love with my sweet girl over and over, as I find a love for music and friendship, as I pig out on mexican food and start christmas shopping. As I laugh and laugh and as I shed tears for things lost… I think of your sweet child. Maybe they would have loved mexican as much as I do and Maybe they would find peace in listening to gospel songs. Maybe they would have enjoyed being a parent as much as I have. And maybe they would rub off on me and have a love for exercise. Maybe they would have been gifted musically and excelled in dance. So many things I wonder…. and so much of my life I contribute to them and to this sweet family. So Thank you. For giving me life. I am forever indebted to you and will never ever forget the memories you have given me. Not a day goes by that I don’t love you… a little more today than yesterday and a lot more now than 18 years ago. My appreciation for you never falters and grows immensely with every passing day. I feel as if I’m part of your family already and yet I have never met you. I love you and I am forever and ever grateful to you. Thank you thank you thank you… you’re child is my hero and your family a team of incredibles… a great team of heroes, indeed.
With all my heart,