I know that most people don’t like reading overly personal stuff on quilting blogs, but today there is only one thing on my mind. Eight years ago, shortly before her first birthday, my daughter received a second chance at life. A family, unknown to us, lost their child that day and made the courageous decision to donate his/her organs. Elena, having lived in a hospital her entire life without family, was life flighted to Nebraska with a caseworker to receive the liver. A few weeks later she celebrated her first birthday and the resulting newspaper story about “A Christmas Angel” would catch my husband’s eye. We met her on Christmas Eve and spent Christmas Day with her in the hospital. Eventually we became her foster family and saw her through a harrowing four month recovery period at the hospital. Finally, at 16 months, she was permanently released from the hospital. At that point she had undergone 20 surgeries and countless procedures. While she would be in and out of the hospital for a couple of more years due to her short bowel syndrome, we were finally able to start the work of teaching her what it meant to live in a family. At 4 1/2 we had the great joy of finalizing her adoption and officially became her forever family.
I tried to write out some of my feelings surrounding this day, but it’s impossible to put into words. In fact, a large reason that I sew is to give myself the time to process all those feelings on a daily basis. The magnitude of challenges we’ve faced have ranged from stabilizing her medically to teaching her to eat, from helping her to acclimate to life outside the hospital to overcoming severe physical delays, from struggling with attachment issues to the past 18 months of intense therapy to deal with her medical trauma and severe PTSD. There have been many days and countless sleepless nights of worry that we could never adequately meet her needs. And yet, there has been progress, amazing mind-boggling progress. For the first time, I am able to imagine a future for her where she is emotionally healthy and that is a testament to her own inner strength and resiliency.
It is a great honor and privilege to be Elena’s mom. Today and every day, I am deeply grateful for the family who gave her this opportunity to know what it is to be loved and be a part of a family. To all organ donors and families who have made the difficult decision to donate their loved ones organs, I thank you. And I would like to ask you all to please consider becoming an organ donor and let your loved ones know of your wishes. More information can be found here.