To the gentleman who received my son's heart...
One of six letters I mailed off last Monday to the New England Organ Donor Offices. Right before Coronavirus craziness skyrocketed.
Good evening my fellow Americans.
First, every not-positive thing I've ever said about technology and having an online business, I take it back!
Second, I hope you are knee-deep in toilet paper, appropriate disinfectants and frozen vegetables.
Third, if you are a health-care provider or grocery store employee or delivery person...I thank you for your personal service and sacrifices and I hope people are showering you with love and compliments. From an appropriate distance, of course.
Personally, I have had such an abundance of words I'd like to share during this time...so many thoughts and feelings and tidbits of what I'd like to believe are wisdom. So many things, in fact, that I've felt a bit paralyzed in the face of where to begin.
I have finished my dinner (which took me longer to prepare than usual due to the fact that I have
far more things in my cupboards, fridge and freezer than preferable.) For this bounty, I realize I am quite blessed. If not mildly paralyzed (there's that word again!) by too many choices.
I'm still not certain where to begin. No more dawdling though. So here we go.
This whole "end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it" coronavirus pandemic situation is pretty much the kind of circumstance in which I shine. Not to brag, but I am in my element when there is a disaster.
Most therapists would say this is not the optimal way to be wired and is probably based on one's
childhood being one big "gird your loins" or "which box is the explosive in" kind of thing...but, I am how I am and it's not all a detriment.
What I want to say ASAP and with a heart full of love and goodwill to whatever wondrous humans might be reading this is THIS: THINGS COULD BE WORSE.
Yes, this is turning life upside-down. But the vast majority of us will be okay. Probably much more than okay. I see so many ways this will bring about positive change, both globally, nationally, and personally. I know this to be true. In my heart, my soul and based on my experiences.
So many people go through so many *personally* life-destroying, life-altering, "life will never be the same again" events. People lose a spouse, a child...a life partner. A best friend forever. People deal with loved ones who commit suicide. I know of someone who recently lost a 19-year-old child to suicide. Parents, every single day, watch their children wither and suffer and die of cancer, right before their eyes.
These things happen on the daily. And life is never the same for those of us who have experienced
what, on the emotional, heart-crushing Richter Scale is off the charts.
People just don't generally realize the person next to them in line at Trader Joe's is walking around
in a daze, their world in utter turmoil. Nothing making sense. Nothing feeling safe. Their future one enormous gaping hole of a question mark.
In contrast, when "huge" and publicly dramatic situations occur...terrorist attacks, mass killings, pandemics...we feel as if we can understand one another's "upside-down-ness" and fear and "lostness"...we are in this thing together. We feel closer and more bonded and understood.
To me, and to the many, many other human beings who have lived through their own personal
equivalent of a global catastrophe...this pandemic may bring up other feelings. For me, it feels like
nothing compared to losing a young husband or teenage son. And I'm not looking to be a poster child
of calmness in the midst of disaster...but in a way I guess I am.
My motto: "I've been through worse." A very empowering motto and one that makes me feel kind of like I own a superhero cape.
Not that I'm not being safe, or compassionate...not that I'm not appropriately concerned or that I have my head stuck in a closet-full of toilet paper...but I feel I have an unusually healthy perspective. And I thank my life experience for that.
Last Monday, days before our National Embarrassment, I mean President, made his speech about the European travel ban, and things got really serious really quickly for many Americans, I woke up, made my usual green smoothie, and then sat down at my desk to pen six notes to the six people who were fortunate enough to be the recipients of my son Cole's organs. It took me nearly four years, and I was finally more than ready. That said, I also felt like I was an actress in a movie scene. It was an emotionally gratifying and amazing thing to have the strength to finally write those notes.
The thing is, I didn't plan on this coordinating with a pandemic. I just woke up feeling ready.
It wasn't until five days later, as warnings for the elderly and immune-challenged grew, that I realized those six people are all immune-challenged. I don't even know which of them did well with their transplanted gifts from my child. Which of them are still alive. I hope all of them, but I have no idea. But they have my child's heart and lung and kidneys and liver inside of them! And suddenly, this virus and its consequences took on a whole new meaning. I am not traditionally religious, but I do pray..and I am praying that those people I wrote to and all others in a "high risk" category make it through this.
Mostly, selfishly, because one day I want to hug those six people. And/or their families.
It's a dire situation, but in reality, people at "high risk" for this are also at "high risk" every day of their lives. We simply don't think about it.
Just like we don't think about the fact that six teenagers between the age of 16 and 19 die in car accidents every single f*cking day. Of every year.
We don't think about statistics like that until our heartstrings are deeply attached to one of those human beings who make up one of those "statistics."
So please please please...try to keep this all in perspective. Most of us will make it through. Some of us won't. But really, that's life. Every day. It's just that we don't know what's happening to that stranger
standing next to us in line at CVS. We don't know their world has been turned completely
and devastatingly upside-down.
I think you can ID the people who have, thus far in their lives, been through the least...because they are freaking out the most. They hadn't yet known first-hand that it can all change in an instant. One instant.
My point is....DO NOT PANIC. Stay aware. Wash your damned hands. Be kind. Be loving. Be compassionate about what others might be going through. Be helpful. Be funny. Make someone smile.
And when your toilet paper stash is running low and you have to use tissues, or when you have to charge your electric bill to your credit card because of cash flow issues...please try to remember, some people are already dealing with cancer or the death of a dearly beloved...and now they are dealing with THIS, too.
And when THIS is all over, and at some point it will be...try to keep doing the same things. And having the same awareness.
Because you never know whose world is upside-down. Who is walking on quicksand. Who feels alone and scared. Who feels like it's the end of the world.
It's just not televised.
With love and hugs and a promise to blog as often as possible during this time of batsh*t craziness...
and give you a place to laugh, cry and possibly offer some instruction for making some lovely toilet paper floral arrangements ~