Well, it has been over a year since my heart transplant and the most difficult thing was probably coping with April 17th. Last year on that day I was fighting desperately for life. Doctors said they could do no more and it was too late to even receive a heart transplant. To many it seemed like the end and I believe that is when God likes to perform! He made a heart available to me that evening after making me well enough to be able to withstand a surgery, even after doctors said it couldn't be done. I am thankful. However, this year on April 17th was extremely difficult again. Not physically, but emotionally. I was constantly thinking about my donor family as they had lost their precious loved one a year ago. Did they get a chance to say their good-byes? I could not help but think how unfair it seems. Why am I here and not her? I know God has a plan for everyone and this was his plan for me, but it has been extremely difficult getting past the fact that because of someone's death, I live.
I was riding home with Nathan from Kansas City and reminiscing about the year before. Nathan wasn't in my life last year, but this year he is my best friend and I was telling him everything I could remember about that day. The precious moments of writing on a note pad to my family because I couldn't talk, seeing the sadness in my family's eyes, the chills I received as my doctor walked in the room to tell me there was a heart…. The 4 hour car ride home was probably mostly me talking and telling him my feelings about everything, but I was thankful to have someone next to me with listening ears. Originally I wanted to dance around the living room with family after I received the phone call of a heart. Obviously that couldn't happen because I was cooped up in the hospital and indefinitely immobile. When I told Nathan I had wanted to dance, he said we better get home by 9:30!
We came home to find out my parents had been struggling with the day too. They had been reminiscing all day about the horrible experiences of watching me fight for every breath and the unknown of what could easily happen. Yet, they could not stop thinking about how the most horrific day turned into being the best day…hearing the news we had wanted to hear so many times before. As 9:30 P.M. approached on April 17th, 2011 my parents, Nathan and I all jumped up and danced around the living room rejoicing! We were thankful and remembering exactly one year ago Dr. Ewald walking in the hospital room to offer me life. We didn't get to dance long because I was sobbing. I couldn't get my mind away from the fact that my donor family was mourning on this day. It is hard to rejoice when for the same exact reason someone is mourning. It doesn't seem right. It seemed as if we all simultaneously embraced each other and gathered into a huddle. Dad immediately started praying not only of thankfulness, but of wishing the best for my unknown family. We prayed they would be comforted and blessed. We prayed for the parents of the donor and the possible husband or children of the donor. We prayed they would still feel confident about their decision to give. We prayed we would have the opportunity to meet them one day.
April 17th has been extremely bittersweet the last two years and I am sure it will continue to be. I am SO thankful for life and for my donor family. This day will always be a day of thankfulness and remembrance.