Proud

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The mail comes mid-day and lately we have lots of it. Cards, medical bills and all the usual junk mail. Yesterday we got a letter from the PNTB, Pacific Northwest Transplant Bank. We have been receiving letters from them thanking us for our donation and welcoming us to the “Donation Family,” a family we are very proud to be part of.

A couple of weeks ago we received a little box with a letter inside telling us that both of Abigail’s kidneys, her liver, and one cornea were successfully transplanted. We got a little description of the individuals that received these organs and tissue but nothing specific.

Yesterday we got our first letter from a recipient of one of Abigail’s kidneys. The letter was beautiful and talked about renewed life and how he will never forget what was given to him. He thanked us with all of his heart – he was so grateful! There was also a letter from another family member which described what happened during the week of Oct. 21st. How they received a call from their cousin, the recipient, on their way home from a Bible study. They wrote about how their cousin had to get to Portland by 8 am on the 24th, the morning after Abigail left for surgery.

They talked about how this donation was an answer to prayer and how much they prayed for the donor’s family, they prayed for us!  They said they are living through everyone’s prayers – just like how we are living through everyone’s prayers. Tom and I cried. Abigail saved someone’s life, she gave someone hope for a brighter future.

I remember thinking as I was saying good-bye to her that someone was getting that call they’ve been waiting for. That a family was happy because their family member was getting a new lease on life. I remember those thoughts comforting me while I was kissing her forehead for the last time. She was such a giver and she now has given the ultimate gift. We are so proud of her and we are so looking forward to meeting the individuals that she blessed with her organs.

When we meet, I will tell them about my girl and what her life was like. I will tell them about how she had so many friends and family members that loved and adored her. I will tell them how she was never afraid to try something new, she was so adventurous. I will tell them how creative she was and how our lives are now filled with her beautiful creations. I will tell them everything about her…I will tell them they are so blessed to have a little piece of her because she was truly AMAZING!

As a parent you never think that making a decision to donate your child’s organs is one you will have to make. Making the decision for our daughter was emotional, but not hard because we know that if Abigail was asked, she would have made the same decision. This choice of giving life is Abigail’s ultimate legacy and for those who were gifted, we will forever feel a connection. They are our family now too.

I am so proud to be Abigail’s mom. I look forward to the day when we are together again <3.

Update (10/23/2017)

It has been 4 years since I wrote this post about the day Abigail gave the ultimate gift of life. Since then we have received a letter from her other kidney recipient and have had the opportunity to meet her liver recipient.  We also found out this past year that her pulmonary valve was given to a young girl in California which ultimately saved her life.  Her gift of life continues and we are so proud of her and her little sister!

If you are reading this and are considering being a donor, here are a few links that will give you more information.

Donate Life Northwest:   http://www.donatelifenw.org/

Donate Life:  http://donatelife.net/


Abigail Donation

Treasures

https://vimeo.com/80622705

I am so happy I took the time to take lots of pictures and videos of my girls. I have 7 years of photos from Anna and only 3 years of Abigail. I wish I had more of both of them. I wish I had the real thing…if only I could walk around the counter, scoop her up and cuddle her…I so wish I could do that.

Abigail

https://vimeo.com/80622704

At the Girl Scout beach retreat this past year the girls were asked to write in the sand words that describe them. I love that Abigail was confident, strong, stood up for what she believed in and I love that she poured that out where ever she went. Such a role model for her sister, such a role model for me. She taught me so much in such a short time.

Year of First

It’s Thanksgiving and we have plans with Eric and Kimi for dinner and then will be heading to Amy and Chad’s house for dessert. We will have a full day and it will be filled with good food and good friends.

We weren’t going to have the kids this year for Thanksgiving, it isn’t our year. Our plans all along were to spend time with friends. We had so many offers and once again feel completely surrounded by love. Yesterday one of Abigail’s Girl Scout friends, Rebecca, even asked if we wanted to spend Thanksgiving with her family; she was concerned we were going to be alone.

I have heard that the first year is the hardest because it is filled with “firsts”. I have been thinking a lot about this year of firsts and how to move through them by honoring my girls and the many memories I have of them during those times.

November 13 was Anna’s 7th birthday. The weekend the girls went to Heaven, Anna and I had a date night and spent it drinking milkshakes at Red Robin and planning what she wanted for her birthday party. We wrote down the names of 10 friends that she wanted to invite, all girls and Rowan. Polka dots and ice cream sundaes was the theme, we talked about games, crafts and she requested that there be time for her to just “hang out” with her friends. I remember thinking that I wish I could freeze time…she was growing up so fast. We then headed over to Target and picked up invites and party favors…ice cream tattoos, lollipop erasers and colorful straws. She even picked out polka dotted wrapping paper she wanted me to wrap her present with.  It was a very fun night, one I will cherish forever.

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On November 12 I was feeling very anxious. I wanted the 13th to be perfect in every way possible. I needed to honor her and make her proud; but how do you do that when you’re grieving and not able to hold your 7 year old, squeeze her, touch her face, kiss her and tell her that the past 7 years have been the best years of my entire life because she has been in them?

Tom and I had planned to go to the coast and get away for the day but for some reason that didn’t seem right. Being alone on her birthday didn’t seem right.

I prayed, we prayed and I’m sure others were praying for me on the days leading up and on the 13th.

I woke up on Anna’s birthday and decided to let go of all my expectations of what that day needed to be and allowed it to just be.

In the early morning I curled up in her bed and looked at pictures and watched videos of my beautiful girl.

While on my computer I found out that Anna’s best friend McKenna, her mom Candi, Tami and Grace were all heading over to BJ’s coffee shop for an early morning birthday celebration – Perfect!

Our day started there with cake, singing and memories of my girl. Anna would have loved eating cake for breakfast and “hanging out” with her friends before school.

Tom and I then came home and decided to make chocolate chip cookies for the fireman on shift…C shift, the same guys that responded the night the girls went to Heaven – Perfect!

We ate lunch at FG sushi, Anna loved sushi and so does her mama – Perfect!

In the afternoon we went to Dilley with treats in hand to celebrate Anna’s birthday with her class. Tom read the kids one of her favorite books, Wet Dog, and we sang Happy Birthday to her and another classmate whose birthday was the day before – Perfect!

In the evening we met Anna’s closest friends, McKenna, Grace, Rowan and Reese with their parents at Red Robin for milkshakes and dinner. We didn’t frequent Red Robin with the girls but Anna and I did just go there for milkshakes and to plan her birthday party. Once again it was perfect!

So for our year of firsts (and for the rest of my years) I’m going to let it be exactly what it will be. I will pray and let God lead me through those times. I’m sure there will be a range of emotions that will come on those days and I will allow myself to feel it all deeply.

Today is Thanksgiving and I am thankful! Thankful for those around me lifting me up in prayer, thankful for my family and friends who continue to be there for us and love my girls, thankful for the years I got with my girls and all of the memories I get to hold on to and most importantly thankful for God and his love; without it I have no idea where I would be right now!

Our first Thanksgiving together around a really small table. Love my family!

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Sitting on a Cloud

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I love thinking about Anna and Abigail sitting with their feet dangling off the edge of a cloud watching me move through this world.

I remember one time when the girls and I were talking about Heaven, Anna asked what it looked like and happens when you get there. Abigail jumped in with this beautiful fairy tale like description of angels, the ability to fly and take different forms, fluffy clouds, and streams of chocolate that ran for miles…basically everything a little girl would want it to be.  At first I wasn’t sure about Abigail’s interpretation because I didn’t want it to sound better than the girls being with me.

Selfish I know.

I chimed in with something like, yes it’s a wonderful place and someday we will all be there but we don’t want to go there right now. Anna, with a serious look on her face, wanted me to reassure her that going to Heaven was only going to happen when we were old. I remember wanting to ease any concern she had, I said that was the plan but sometimes we go when we aren’t old.

I was so afraid that one of her friends would pass or if something happened to me she wouldn’t understand. I would tell her that when the time comes and I do go to Heaven (hopefully when I’m really old) that I would be her angel, that I would be safe with Jesus and I would always watch out for her. I wanted her to hear me saying that and not someone else after the fact.

During those moments the thought of them going to Heaven first never crossed my mind.

These conversations are what I think of now. I am so glad we talked about it and that Abigail shared with me her fairy tale description.

I hold on to that place of happiness.

I close my eyes and I can see my girls soaring high above the clouds, I can hear Abigail scream to Anna that the chocolate is the best they’ve ever had, I feel them comforting me when the ache in my heart is unbearable and I can hear them laughing as they jump from cloud to cloud…doing cartwheels and perfect flips along the way.

I can hear Anna whisper, “I love you Mama, Abigail was right it is amazing here.”

Heaven is real and my girls are there.

Having Peace

I know that I shouldn’t feel like I do.

This unbelievable sense of peace that my girls are well and that they are safe. I shouldn’t feel it. I should be curled up in a ball and hating God for what happened to my babies.

God is so amazing though, the power of prayer is so amazing and I feel this every second of every day!

I REALLY feel it.

I keep telling folks that it isn’t something I’m saying to make myself feel better. I truly feel God’s arms wrapped around me, holding me tight and telling me that he will take care of them.  God is lifting me, making me stand, making me remember all of the amazing times we had, giving me so much gratitude for these two lives, blessing me with amazing people who are praying continuously and simply being the AMAZING God that he is.

I miss my girls terribly!I miss absolutely everything about them and with that I have a huge hole in my heart that hurts really bad.

I am making the choice though to fill that hole with trust that God’s plan is great and that one day I will understand. In the meantime I will live my life for him and for my girls honor… every day, every hour, every minute, every second!!!!

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.   ~ Philippians 4:7

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