Finally realizing this was the one of the toughest things I have ever had to face. It was also the most healing.
When you think you are so strong. When you think you have it all together. When you think you are happy. When you think these things and find out you were none of those things, it sucks. It really sucks.
I wasn’t ok until about 5 years ago. I became more me and more happy over the last 5 years. It seems like every day I get closer and closer to me. Closer to who I really am and it feels amazing.
Sometimes I need to just say that out loud and let it hang in the air for a little bit. Those words are so strange coming out of my mouth. Even sitting here getting ready to type out my story I keep stopping and staring off and thinking back to what it was like to be in that space, that life. Then I try to refocus and get back to writing.
How much of this story do I share? How deep do I go? Do I share this moment or that moment? And then I stare again at nothing and think back to this or that moment…
What the hell happened? That is not me. How did I let those things happen to me?
I don’t exactly know how it happened. I have some ideas and I know some of the ridiculous feelings I had when I knew deep down I needed to get out but chose to stay. I know what those ridiculous thoughts were but I still don’t know why or how I let myself get there. I might not ever really know. I do know that at some point I stopped loving myself. I had to have stopped loving myself. I had to have stopped understanding my worth. And that is so crazy. How did THAT happen?
My husband and I met 3 years and 2 months ago. We found out on our first date that we had an interesting connection. He is a heart transplant recipient and I am part of a donor family.
My stepsister, Lorraine, suffered from a horrible disease. Addiction. This illness took her on June 23, 2010. She was 24 years old. While she was on life support, my stepfather, John, was able to understand what the local OPO (organ procurement organization, Gift of Life from Philly) was asking the family. She was brain dead. She was hooked up to machines that were keeping her body alive but she was already gone. We were waiting to say goodbye. They were asking if her organs could be used to save the lives of others. John told the family that this is what Lorraine would have wanted. So John and Lorraine’s mother said yes. Lorraine was given rest and another chance. A legacy.
After many health struggles that are another story, my husband, Derek, was in heart failure for 7 years. He received a new heart, someone else’s heart, on the same day that his doctors thought he might not live another 24 hours. He was given another chance. While his family celebrated this miracle at his bedside, Derek’s mind wandered to another place. Somewhere there was a family gathered around their lost loved one. They were crying and saying goodbye. And they had decided to make their loved one a hero. Give them a legacy. Save a life.