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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Tragedy · #2070080
One family's tragedy creates a new life for another
Will it really happen this time? For the past 5 years I have lived for this call from the transplant team, the call that says I will receive a new heart. There have been several false starts: an organ that wasn’t compatible and a rough cold I caught at the most inopportune time. But this past Tuesday I received the text message and started preparations. Here I am in yet another hospital bed trying to keep my euphoria at bay –knowing this may not be the heart for me or even worse this may be my final attempt. It seems poetic that the surgery is expected to start at midnight tonight – New Year’s Eve. They tell me the donor is the teenage victim of a horrific car crash.

It’s been two days that I sit here next to my son trying to say goodbye. The transplant team stated they needed to keep his body attached to the machines in order to keep his organs alive and ready for the donation. I know he is gone but I cannot leave him. Would it have been easier to say goodbye that first night? Would five days or six make it any easier? They tell me the recipient is a middle-aged man with three little girls. This may be his last chance for a match.

I am so cold I’m shivering yet my mind is glowing with hope. Can’t help but visual my wife’s face as I play tag with the girls in the back yard, or carry the groceries up the stairs or simply run after the dog. The things we take for granted until we no longer have the energy to do them. I am smiling but should I be? A young man lost his life tragically and I am benefiting from his misfortune. This dichotomy is difficult to resolve.

I feel so cold. The nurse brought me a blanket yet it doesn’t help. Was Shawn cold as he lied in the street? I wasn’t there to keep him warm. Now I search for anything that I can do. There is nothing. I know it makes no difference and that I failed at my only job as a mother – to protect my baby. I am trying to take solace in the fact that my Shawn’s life will not be in vain, that his body will save someone else. But I don’t care and I don’t want to be selfless. I want my baby back.

The nurse comes to move me to the ER. My wife kissed me and with a hesitant smile wished me luck. How simply a statement but racked with love, hope and of course fear. Trying to stay strong and offer her confidence. I joke about my future scar and her upcoming role as my nurse. Our strained laugh punctuates the situation. I love her so much and I love my life. I am not ready to give it up. I am thankful I am not that teenager who is saving me.

My husband, Shawn’s dad, enters the room. He kisses our son, gently hugs me and whispers that it is time. With tears he takes one final look at our only child and leaves the room shoulders hunched, head hung so low. I rise and with great resolve approach him. I move the bangs out of his eyes for no reason but to have that final familiar feeling of touching him. I too kiss him on the head as I had done so many times but now for the last time.

I hear the hospital staff outside the OR chanting their countdown to midnight, as the anesthesiologist instructs me to count backwards...10, 9, 8, 7…

The clock strikes midnight, I say goodbye to my dear Shawn and enter into the new normal.
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