Miracles Amidst Grief

Below is the story of the miracle that occurred when my grief and helplessness were reaching new heights.  Just over a year later I can say that this miracle has truly given me hope in my life; given me eyes to see that life continues even after our earthly bodies are gone; given me greater love to share with a bigger family in Christ.  Just a couple weeks ago the family described below came to my house to help with a project for my daughters.  Another miracle . . . a part of my husband was alive and well inside our home.  I was able to hug an earthly body in love of my husband and the gift of life.  I was able to see the miracle of re-birth through the gift of a second chance at life.  But do we need an organ transplant to have a “re-birth”?  A second chance at life?  I say NO!  We can have our second chance at life RIGHT NOW if we bow our heads and ask the Lord for forgiveness and give our lives over to him.  If we can remember our blessings each day and give thanks; if we can see the world and our brethren through His eyes we will be re-born.  We WILL have a second chance at this life because we will be living it filled with HIS love; HIS compassion; HIS will.  And only in this way can we truly live.

July 2016 . . .

Sometimes it’s hard to agree with God’s plan or even think He has one. I’ve been there, in a place where I have questioned what in the world was happening and why. Losing my husband was one of those times. But God had a plan and while His plan hurts like crazy right now I find comfort in the evidence of His hand in our lives.

The first week Ryan was in the hospital a former colleague and her sweet daughter came to visit me in the waiting room. This woman was someone I have always had a great deal of respect and fondness for. When I am at the Central Office of the school system I still stick my head in to say hello to her. That day in the waiting room she shared with me a similar experience when her mother had been in a car accident and had a head injury like Ryan’s. She said she hoped and prayed I would never have to experience what she had when she had to let her mother go. Sadly, I followed the same path.

She was at the hospital with her husband, Kevin, for his weekly appointment. You see, Kevin has an illness and he needed a new liver but his liver numbers would never reflect how sick he really was until he was critical. He was on the transplant list but not as high on the list as he really should have been. While we chatted about this I told her a friend of mine, Marilyn, was a transplant coordinator at the hospital. And in that moment in  walked Marilyn who told her they were likely to meet again when Kevin finally got his transplant. And they did.

When we made the decision to let Ryan have everlasting peace we also honored his wish to be an organ donor. As I met with the donor agency I shared that I knew someone who needed a liver and found out I could do a directed donation but was cautioned that most of the time they didn’t work out. Then they asked me for information on Kevin that I had no way of knowing. Our pastor (ours and the recipient family’s – yes we are members at sister churches with the same pastor) had been asking what he could do for me. Finally I had something – I needed him to get this information. I was scared of letting my husband go and scared of getting their hopes up. Ray shared with me that Kevin had been admitted to the ER in crisis the same night we made our decision to let Ryan go home in the coming days. Coincidence? No. God’s plan? I truly believe it was so because that meant Kevin was already at the same hospital.

That night Ginny and Jacqueline came to see me in the waiting room again. It was our private, emotional moment and Ginny shared that she had been told that Kevin and Ryan were a match on their blood type – and not a common blood type at that. We also discovered that they were the exact same height which was important as Kevin needed a liver that was large enough to metabolically support this body. The wait began.

The next morning the donor family coordinator came to get my signature – the first time in his career that a directed donation had made it that far. Just needed the approval of Kevin’s surgeon. As time loomed closer to remove life support I got word that Kevin would be entering the OR at 4pm for his new liver. Ryan’s liver. They were a perfect match. In that shadowed, grief filled day there was hope for another girl’s daddy to have life.

Kevin is home with a fully functional liver now. My girls know their daddy is a true superhero and often talk about the daddy he saved. Ginny and I are in touch and Kevin’s recovery is my personal joy in this hard time in my life. I cling to the fact that Kevin will be there to walk his daughter down the aisle someday, to teach his sons those things only a daddy can, and he and Ginny will have many more years to love one another.

These words don’t truly capture the magic of seeing God’s plan so clearly. It is the one thing – other than my daughters – that helped me continue to see light. And it continues to help me because I know Ryan not only lives on in Taryn and Jenna but in the lives he saved when he lost his own. Is this a replacement for having Ryan here? No, but it is a comfort. And Ryan’s daughters will grow up knowing that their daddy is a real, live superhero who was generous his entire life and in his death. They will learn to see rays of sunlight in even the most shadowed room and they will always know that God is fully present in their lives.

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