Waiting Patiently

Abigail Donation“Abigail, come on, it’s time to go.”

I’m sure Miss Anna was little impatient with her sister as she waited for her to get done in the hospital.

I like to think that as the doctors, nurses and the transplant team found matches and prepared Abigail for her surgery, Anna waited for her sister patiently, or not so patiently, so they could go to Heaven together.

This thought of them hand in hand brings me comfort.

~

A year ago yesterday calls were being made to say they had a perfect match.

My daughter was a perfect match.

I remember the team from Pacific Northwest Transplant Bank (PNTB), along with the staff from Randall Children’s Hospital, giving us updates on the status of her recipients.

They included us in the process of her care and made us part of their team. They asked about Anna and Abigail and listened as we shared stories. They created a caring and loving environment for us to grieve. They connected, loved and took such good care of Abigail.

They took such great care of us and still do.

Abigail was able to give the gift of life and sight through her organ donation. We feel that both girls were on their way to Heaven, hand in hand, on October 20th, but by the Grace of God Abigail had to make one stop before she went.

On this day last year, total strangers were being wheeled into the operating room to be given a miracle from my daughter. I know that this gift is not taken lightly and is an answer to their prayers. I have met many recipients of similar gifts and I know that the joy in the miracle is felt concurrently with compassion and sorrow for the donor family.

Abigail’s right kidney was transplanted successfully to a man in his 50’s who had been on dialysis for 2 yrs.  He is doing well. We received a letter from him and his family last December.

Her left kidney recipient was a U.S. military veteran who was also on dialysis for the past two years. We recently got a letter from him telling us that his health is good and that he cherishes the gift Abigail gave him. We hope to meet him soon.

Abigail’s liver was transplanted into an 8 year old boy. It has been told to us that he was able to return back to school after his transplant and is having a good time being a lively kid again. Without Abigail’s liver this boy’s life would have been short and a lot of it would be spent in the hospital.

Abigail was able to donate one cornea which gave sight to a 9 yr old in the Pacific Northwest. That child is able to see because of her gift.

Her pulmonary valve and conduit was distributed to a pediatric hospital in California and her aorta has produced 13 million vascular cells which have the potential to generate over 50 vascular grafts. These grafts will assist recipients with limb salvage and circulation issues.

~

“I’m ready to go Anna.”

“Finally, what took so long.”

“Just needed to answer some prayers before we left.”

~

There is a lot of guilt that is felt by those who receive organs and tissue, especially when it’s given by a child. Abigail was on her way to Heaven, her donation was a choice we made for her knowing full well she would have made the same choice.

We have met so many amazing people who have been touched by organ and tissue donation. We feel very blessed that Abigail was able to leave this legacy.

If you are not already an organ donor or have any questions about organ donation please contact Donate Life America.

New Toy

I heard him wrestling something in the other room.

Curious, I quietly snuck in to see what he was doing.

This is what I found and I thought it was so appropriate that, of all the pillows he decided to chew on, it was this one.

story

I smiled and then took his new toy away.

Next time I’m sure he’ll be quieter.

linus cute

Embrace

I woke this morning with thoughts on this day last year.

I was sitting in the hospital listening to a machine that was keeping Abigail breathing, missing both of my girls terribly and fully aware of the reality that both of them were in Heaven.

That day I had a choice.

I could run and hide from this world, isolate myself in sorrow and be angry at everyone and everything for my circumstances or I could embrace my Heavenly Father, who was in that room with me grieving my girls, and allow Him to make good on His promise that for so many years I said I believed.

Being angry would have been easy. Angry at Tom, angry at the girl that was driving the car, angry at myself for not being home and angry at God for allowing this to happen.

That anger could have consumed me, isolated me from those I love, destroyed my marriage, hardened my heart and ultimately created an even greater distance between myself and my girls in Heaven.

This would have been easy to do because I was/am angry ~ my circumstances were/are not fair and I did not want the life that was/is before me.

Sitting in that hospital room I made a decision that was not easy. I chose to allow God, who I couldn’t control or see, to come and wrap His arms around me, lift the burden of my pain, bring peace to my heart that I still don’t understand and, most importantly, to have my girls. I accepted what I knew I could not change ~ my girls were in Heaven with God.

This choice is by far the greatest and most important choice that I have ever made in my life. In choosing to allow Him to work in my life and by completely surrendering to Him, I have felt such incredible love – just like He promised. When I am angry and feeling unbearable pain He is my lifeline ~ pulling me from the depths of my sorrow and breathing love into my heart.

Yesterday I saw a lot of rainbows because of that choice. If I would have chosen to turn away I would have missed them, I would have missed my girls.

Instead I felt their love and saw their light from Heaven.

Yesterday was beautiful and I am so grateful for God’s grace, love and everlasting peace. Through my sorrow He has shown me a joy that I know is only a fraction of the joy my girls feel in Heaven.

This time last year I said yes to God and He has held me ever since, giving me strength, courage and allowing me to see and appreciate the rainbows.

Anna and Abigail's Heaven Day ~ October 20, 2014

Anna and Abigail’s Heaven Day ~ October 20, 2014

Anna and Abigail’s Heaven Day

I was laying in bed and I heard her, like I did most mornings, put her feet on the ground and run down the steps. I knew exactly where she was headed and I remember, as I did every morning, feeling grateful that she still loved to cuddle.

We fit perfectly together.

We didn’t cuddle for long that morning but instead, after having a discussion about waffles, got up and headed to the kitchen. I pulled down the waffle maker and she grabbed the bowl to start mixing the batter. We chatted about the day and the weekend, it had been very full.

She told me stories and I listened.

I told her I loved her, as I did many times a day, and she responded with a smile.

Our love is solid, our bond is deep and our hearts are connected.

~

That same afternoon I was walking home from the theater after volunteering, it was a beautiful Fall day. I stopped to take a picture of my feet in the leaves, the title ~ I love Fall!

I saw them hiding behind a tree and knew exactly what they were doing. Wearing spy glasses and hats both girls were trying not to move.

I played along.

Eventually they both came running towards me excited to tell me about their day.

Anna jumped around a bit, happy to have been playing with her sister, and then ran up the street back to the house.

Abigail walked with me and told me all about her first Annie rehearsal. Her voice was sore and her feet tired. They had started with It’s a Hard Knock Life and she was thrilled to be an orphan. The excitement in her voice made my heart so happy.

I loved that she was sharing, she was happy and that we were connected. I remember looking forward to her teen years, and although they would come with challenges, as they do with most teenage girls, I knew we would make it through with even a deeper connection.

Abigail is a blessing that I never knew I needed and, as we were growing in our relationship as mother and daughter, I felt so much gratitude in having her in my life.

I grabbed her hand and she held it tight.

~

We ate dinner before I needed to leave for another obligation with the theater. The girls sat on the bar stools and laughed about spying on Tom. Anna, very happy to be playing with her sister. Abigail, happy and loving life.

“I love you to the moon and back,” I said as they continued to laugh and giggle at their seats. My heart was happy they were having so much fun together.

My heart filled with love for my family, I walked to the door, turned around and said goodbye.

~

For Tom and I, every day of the year is another day without our girls. We never stop feeling the heartache of their absence.

Today, on their Heaven Day, we give thanks to the countless people in our lives, both near and far, that have prayed, supported, loved and held us this past year. We believe that God has used each and everyone of you to show that He is so real and His truth is alive and well.

We know our girls are good by the peace that He places on our hearts everyday.

We know that if we asked them to come back they wouldn’t.

We miss them terribly but trust in God’s word and look forward to the day when we too are in eternity.

We see clearly the love and joy He wants us, all of us, to spread.

Our girls lives were remarkable and now, in Heaven, they have shown us all what it truly means to love one another.

As always, I AM PROUD TO BE THEIR MOM!!!

When I said goodbye a year ago today I had no idea what that truly meant. I rest in knowing that one glorious day my girls will say, “Welcome to Heaven Mom!”

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Heaven Day

I love you both so much to Heaven and back!!!

 

 

 

 

Vivid

I remember it was a beautiful Fall weekend full of sunshine.

I remember holding her hand while we walked into the restaurant.

I remember how good the milkshake tasted.

I remember smiling as she recited the poem she wrote, “One, Two, Three, I Am Happy.”

I remember the excitement they both felt not having school that Friday.

I remember calling up to Anna and telling her we needed to head outside to watch the homecoming parade that was just about to start.

I remember appreciating our small town and its small town traditions.

I remember filling our pockets with candy.

I remember thinking Abigail was definitely a pre-teen, all she wanted to do that weekend was spend time with her friends.

I remember feeling blessed that she had such great friends.

I remember walking up to the pumpkin patch, hearing them argue, turning around and telling them we may need to go home if they didn’t stop.

I remember laughing while I watched Tom race the girls around the track riding tiny tricycles.

I remember telling the girls, again, to stop arguing as they fought over who was going to stand next to the big pumpkin for the annual pumpkin patch picture.

I remember telling them that in the end they were sisters and they would always have each other – so stand next to the pumpkin and smile.

I remember Anna standing on the front of the cart as we did our weekly grocery shopping as a family.

I remember Abigail trying to sneak her favorite snacks into the cart.

I remember Tom saying yes to the giant cup of ice cream at Costco and both girls looking at me with the expression of, “don’t be mad at us, he said we could have it.”

I remember taking more than one spoonful for myself.

I remember doing yard work while Anna played in the fairy garden.

I remember how excited she was to have a surprise visit from her friend for a spontaneous playdate at the park.

I remember grounding Abigail from her phone for having a pre-teen moment.

I remember how excited she was that we were letting her go to the corn maze with her friends, without her phone of course.

I remember how excited she was when she came home with stories of teenage fun.

I remember picking Anna up from her friends house after a birthday party, some Fall fun and a smores in the backyard.

I remember that she didn’t want to sleep over at her friends house but rather cuddle up with me that night.

I remember learning how to salsa dance with Tom thinking that our girls would be proud and totally embarrassed. I was excited to show them our latin moves.

These memories are my most vivid of my girls. These are just a few of the last memories I have from their last weekend here on earth.

It was such a full weekend filled with laughter, smiles, friends, arguing, ice cream and family.

Pumpkin picutre

My heart is extremely heavy and I feel the water getting deeper.

Jet lag, transitioning from a third world country to back home and the up coming anniversary of our girls Heaven Day is taking its toll.

For Tom and I, the sadness of our girls absence never leaves us. The mark on the calendar just means that we can no longer say, “this time last year.”

The distance from these memories of our last weekend together is getting greater. I will hold on tight though. I will always remember, always share and I will cherish every moment we had together.

God has gotten us this far and I fully trust He will guide us the rest of the way until we are home, broken heart and all.

I just wish I could have my old life back and not have to live this life without my girls.

Trusting His plan.