This past Friday, December 11th, was an important milestone in my life. I met my donor Connie’s husband and mom, Dan and Sandy. Though we’d been in touch via phone and letters, Friday was our first face-to-face visit. This is something I’ve been looking forward to since I had the transplant. I always knew that I would want to be in contact with the family of my donor. I felt that it would be important for everyone involved to see the full circle of this miracle.
I was only slightly nervous to meet these generous, kind, courageous people because I already felt a connection with them. I could tell they were wonderful folks, because it had been proven in their darkest hour, when they bravely chose to save the lives of many people by giving the gift of a multiple organ donation. Connie had decided to be a donor long before the issue became necessary for the family to discuss, and by doing so she made it possible for them to rest easily with their decision.
The moment I hugged Dan and Sandy, my heart felt whole. It was as if the final section of this chapter in my life story was written, wrapped up and tied neatly in a bow. Not really an ending, but rather a precursor to the next part of the book. And there are so many pages yet to be written! Thanks to Connie and her family, I have the opportunity to continue to live and write, and write and live.
We shared our stories and pieced together the days from Connie’s passing through the process of both our surgeries; theirs one of solemn grief and selfless courage, mine a story of ultimate gratitude and triumph over hardship. It’s strange to me how mathematical the situation can seem, though. We are both human, Connie and I, but my left brain can’t help but look at the sterile neutrality of it all. One negative plus one positive equals zero. But that can’t be correct; this is only my logical thinking. My right brain and all of my emotive side knows that this was not a zero-sum case. I gained so much, and it makes it difficult to walk this earth knowing that I’ll never meet my real hero, who is someone who should, by all rights, still be here. I’ve had dilemmas of worthiness, but I’ve come to realize that perhaps I deserve a second chance at life just as much as any other lung transplant patient. More than ever, therefore, I now feel a purpose and ambition to live a full life with a grateful heart. For Connie, and for myself. I didn’t make it this far to fall into mediocrity. I have the desire to soar, and right now I’m working hard to get back to full strength and ready to spread my wings again.
Dan and Sandy were extremely supportive and kind. We talked like old friends and I learned a bit about the kind of person Connie was. They also shared photos of her with me, and she was beautiful- a petite woman with dark blonde hair and dazzling greenish eyes. I’m guessing it was difficult for them to relive Connie’s passing and think of the void she left behind, but they didn’t focus on such grief. Their words reflected an attitude of love and faith that things happened for a reason. Graciously, both Dan and Sandy told me how they believed we were all family now, and I truly felt accepted by them. Sandy said I could be her youngest daughter, which meant a lot to me. I felt very comforted in their presence. If ever I need to remember why I’m here, I can draw strength from my family, old AND new. I’m so incredibly blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life, and I look forward to growing closer to Connie’s family over time.