(This letter was written one year ago today... It has been submitted to the organ donation family correspondance team and is prayerfully in the hands of my hero, the mother of my little girl's new heart, this Mother's Day)
You were my first thought this morning when I awakened to celebrate this momentous Mother's Day. You are not celebrating today. Instead, you are grieving the loss of your precious child. Your loss brought life to mine, yet I grieve with you. I cried out to God for you as I wept. In your hours of deepest pain, you made a decision that would alter the course of my life and the life of the little girl I love.
You, precious Mother, are the hero of this miraculous story and your legacy will live on, beating inside my daughter. Without your gift, Rachel could not have lived and before long, I would have joined you in your loss. Instead, on this Mother's Day, I am celebrating new life. But I want you to know, more than anything, that I have not forgotten you. I will never forget you and the imprint you have left on my life will never fade. With your signature, you released the one you love and with mine, that love was received.
While others slept through the early hours of May 6, I counted the moments with you. I knew precisely the hour your precious child took his last breath and you released the gift of life to make it mine. We waited outside in the cold, dark night to honor the arrival of that gift in an ambulance from the airport. My heart ached for yours as we waited. When it finally arrived, I followed the precious cargo into a back door of the hospital and down the hallways to the Operating Room where Rachel was waiting. I could no longer hold in the pain I was carrying for you and I slid onto the floor and wept. You had taken your devastating loss and used it for the good of someone you did not know. Your act embodied true love and witnessing the arrival of that love in an ordinary cooler literally brought me to my knees.
It would be many, many hours before I would see my little girl again. In the early morning hours of our wait, I laid alone in the room where they would bring her after receiving your precious child's heart. I have never before been enfolded into a miracle like this one and it left me speechless before the Lord. I laid in His lap and simply cried. Tears of loss… Tears of joy... Thankful for life… Thankful for you.
I remember little about Rachel when I first saw her lying there with her perfect, new heart… except her hands. Her fingers, always blue and chilled from the lack of blood flow, were suddenly pink and warm. Those hands symbolized the gift she had been given... the one you gave... and again I wept for you. I doubt that I will ever look at the beautiful hands of my daughter and fail to remember you.
When the monitors play the rhythm of your child's heart, I think of you and the sound of that heart thumping in my daughter’s chest calls out your name, though I do not know it. In the past months and years, I have memorized the shape and rhythm of Rachel’s broken heart on the echo's monitor. I would hold my breath as it stuttered and stammered to continue pumping life into her. I have even fallen asleep with my hand on her chest and felt the irregular pounding of her broken heart, wondering how much longer it could beat against all odds. I stood in silence as the first images of Rachel’s new heart came up on the monitor. It beat in perfect time. It was strong and healthy. It was pumping oxygen-filled blood into the body of my little girl. In that moment, all I could see was your precious child, and you, with open hands.
That heart does not belong to me. It doesn't even belong to my little girl. That heart belongs to you... It always will. In the greatest act of sacrificial love I can humanly imagine, you chose to give your child’s heart away in order to give life to mine. I am deeply humbled and I will never forget that this immeasurable gift is a sacred trust that binds us together as mothers.
On this Mother's Day, the sting of your child's absence must seem unbearable. But because of you, your child lives on and still has the power to change the world through those it touches. I promise to treat the treasure that you have entrusted to us, as I would my very own. I will nurture it and protect it with everything in me as it beats inside of my daughter.
I pray that God will use the life you have shared to impact His Kingdom mightily and that your gift of a beating heart will send ripples into eternity. May the HOPE of Christ shine brightly through the life of my daughter, and the beautiful miracle story that includes YOU!
My prayer will always be the one I am praying for you today... May your HOPE be renewed. May you sense unexplainable joy in the role you have played in redeeming the broken. Christ understands your sacrifice so much better than I ever could. I pray that His sacrifice on your behalf would be dearer to you than ever before and that you would find His immeasurable grace to be sufficient for you today and in the days to come.
You were my first thought this morning and you will be my last as I close this day. I hope you can hear my tear-filled whispers, as I thank God for you today.
Happy Mother's Day to my hero, the mother of my little girl's new heart...