Today, I’m thinking about joy.
Joy, the name of the wife of good friend, Brian.
Joy, the emotion instantly drained from Brian’s heart when he received that phone call a couple weeks ago.
Maybe you’ve gotten one of those phone calls, Dear Reader.
One with the worst news possible.
While Brian was working out of town, Joy was involved in a single-car accident.
He was on the next plane back home, staying by Joy’s side for 10 days.
Stayed there until doctors said there was nothing they could do, explaining that it looked like his wife was there, but she wasn’t. Her brain had no activity. There was no Joy.
But there was something he could do that would change at least four lives.
Would he, could he, give permission to donate Joy’s organs?
What might seem like an obvious answer for you, wasn’t so easy for Brian.
Of everything they had discussed in their 20 years together, they had not gotten clear on organ donation.
“There’s a chance she wouldn’t have wanted to do this,” he shared with me.
She was also the woman who couldn’t turn away a rescue dog or cat.
Who couldn’t say no to that kind of life.
So, Brian said, “Yes,” choosing to make Joy the ultimate rescuer.
“They know for sure they had people waiting for her heart, pancreas, and kidneys,” he shared looking for some glimmer of meaning his tragedy.
“The phone call,” I said. “Maybe we can think about the phone call.”
“As awful as the phone call you got a couple weeks ago,” I offered. “Can we think about the phone call at least four families got this week?”
One with the best news possible.
I reached out to a wonderful family who knows both calls.
My neighbor’s niece, Camden, died in a car accident in 2000. “Her brain injuries were irreversible and we too had to decide whether to donate her organs or hold her when she took her last breath,” her mom, Maury, shared with me. “We chose life. For others. We donated her organs.”
There’s another chapter to their story.
Eight years after the death of their daughter, Maury’s husband, George, was gravely ill, the one in need. It was as if losing his only daughter and slowly, literally broken his heart. Now, he was the one waiting for a heart transplant.
That’s when they received another midnight phone call, the one telling them there was a new heart for George.
This time the miracle was theirs.
“There’s nothing you can say that’s going to make this all right for Brian,” Maury counseled me. “With grief comes so much guilt and the ‘if only’ and ‘what if’s.’”
I know that.
I prefer for life to feel tied up with a neat little bow instead of the mess of tangled spaghetti it so often does.
Maybe you understand.
Maybe even in the mess, you, too can appreciate how much can change with a single phone call.
Maybe today, you, too, can think about Joy.
Find more stories on my website, DarynKagan.com