Gratitude

Seven years ago tonight.

Seven years ago tonight, our lives changed.

Renee, who was on the heart transplant list, had gotten the call. And this time, it wasn’t a false alarm. This time, it was real.

I was in a staff meeting at work when she called me. I told the staff, said I would keep them posted, and then left. I would not be back for two weeks, but we didn’t know that then.

I called Brian. He was four hours away and had a day full of meetings lined up. Within an hour, he had rescheduled everything and was on his way.

That night, we all sat in the preop room, waiting on them to take her to surgery. The picture up there is her talking on the phone to her dad that night, 7 years ago.

I’ve written oodles about that time. Many thousands of words. But that was the night our life changed.

That was the night we got a second chance. The night that some other family’s nightmare became our salvation.

My phone was ringing off the hook once word got out. People were texting me with offers of all sorts of help. I didn’t know how to pray or what to pray. I just wanted my girl to be OK. I wanted us to get through this and for us to have a good life. I wanted us to be able to build a life together. I wanted us not to be afraid all the time.

After midnight, the surgical team came and took her back, and we were shown to the waiting room. There were several of us – Brian, me, Renee’s sister, and her kids. And we lay on the waiting room floor and slept, or tried to. I dozed fitfully, and around three in the morning, I thought about all the people who were praying for us, who loved us, who were mobilizing on our behalf, raising money, and putting meals together. I heard the snores of the others, these people who loved us enough to disrupt their lives and just be with us.

And in the midst of all that, I felt this tremendous sense of peace wash over me, and I knew it was going to be OK. She was going to be OK. We were going to be OK. And I fell sound asleep.

Before it was daylight, I would get woken up, and a doctor younger than I am would tell me that she had come through the surgery just fine and that she had a hard few days in front of her, but her long-term prospects looked great.

She was going to be OK, he told me.

He was right.

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