I’m back and reclaiming my JOY

It has been quite a while since I have wrote. There has been a lot going on. I had surgery. Church has kept us going. Our kids and everyone else has kept our calendar full. My daughter announced that she is going to have a baby so I am going to be a Granny. My niece has moved in. School is out and summer fun is underway. So so much is keeping us busy that I would like to say that is why I haven’t put pen to paper. But sadly it is not.

I have let something terrible happen in my life. I have let someone take my joy away. Actually more than one person. But to start, I let the words of someone who is very bitter with their own life get to me. Get into my head and into my heart. I let this person strip me down to the core with her words and leave me questioning everything in my life. What makes this so sad? This person knew the right words to say and how to use them. Even sadder, none of the words she said were true or even relevant. I had never in my life been spoken to with such hate and anger as I was then. Even though I knew everything she was saying was just pure hate, I let it sink in until it took my joy. I let this person who is so miserable in her own life, damage mine.

It caused a ripple effect too. It started with me feeling down from the words. Then it had me questioning the things said. This caused me to start letting other things get to me. Other people’s problem became like bricks on my shoulders. I let the words and actions that were so tiny aggravate or hurt me like they were the worst in the world. I even let someone at church almost rob me of my safe place at the altar. I would show up to places with an escape plan already in place and dread in my mind. I was only happy at home in my comfort zone.

What brought me out of it? I just dug in deeper and read more of my Bible. I did more praying and even more praying after that. Then one night last week, I had just had it. I realized that I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t joyful. I was sad. I was lonely. I was faking my way through so much of life that I quit even really living. So I reclaimed my joy. I took back my happy. I gave all the burdens that I was taking on from others back. I turned a deaf ear to negative and an eye to the positive. I for the first time in a long time got the urge to write again. I gave the hateful person that started this downward spiral to the Lord and her words to pray. I hope she finds happiness somewhere in her life and gets right with God. But for me, I am reclaiming all that is good, happy and joyful for me.

And now the writing begins……………….

Lance

LANCE! That is the name of the man who received my son’s heart. I met him Saturday. I met the man who has Richie’s heart. Very proud and powerful to be able to say that. The journey to get to this meeting has taken a year. I will start at the beginning and jump to the end. Well, hopefully not the end but a new beginning.

Shortly after Richie’s death, I wrote a letter to each of the recipients I knew about. I was sent a letter that was dated on Valentine’s day from a man who received his heart. It was a very lovely letter letting me know a little about his life and how he was doing. This letter was simple yet powerful at the same time. It simply let me know that my son’s heart was still beating. In the letter he stated that he would like to know more about my son so I wrote him back and sent him pictures of Richie. We then sent a few more letters. Exchanged Christmas cards. And then, I got the call from Erica. She said it so nonchalantly, “Would you be interested on meeting Lance?” Of course!!!!!!! So we set it up. We would meet in two weeks.

For two weeks, I think I felt every emotion known to man. Nervous, scared, anxious, excited, you name it, I felt it. I asked a friend of mine who had met her son’s heart recipient what I should ask, say or do. She said just go in and it would come to us. I even asked her what do I do if he doesn’t like us. Or better yet, what if we don’t like him? What if I just cry the whole time? (since I have become a crier) Should I bring him a gift? What do you bring a 68 year old man with a 20 year old heart? Do I take him a We Came As Romans CD or what? Just WHAT IF??????????

Well, Jeff and I went to meet him. We were nervous. I could see him walking down the sidewalk to the building and just felt overwhelmed. Thank God Erica stalled him a minute in hall before bringing him in. I needed to catch my breathe. Then he walked in. All I could do was hug him. This man was alive and breathing. Out of death came life. My son’s death was not a waste. His death made this man be able to hug his wife, talk to his children and play with his grandchildren. An entire years worth of grieving and pain and why’s went away. I instantly felt a sense of peace. Then this man looked at me and smiled. I don’t want to say that I saw Richie in the smile, but I just felt him in the smile. We sat at a table, the four of us and Erica and talked of each other’s stories. I learned of his illness and recovery. He heard of Richie’s accident for the first time. It was not uncomfortable. It felt as if I reconnected with a friend or relative that had been away for a few years.

After the meeting we went to lunch. Jeff and I followed them to the restaurant they had picked out. On the way there, I asked Jeff how he felt. All he said was, “I like that man.” For a man of few words, that was a lot from Jeff. What I noticed most was the look of peace and calm that had come over him. He didn’t have that crinkle in his forehead that appeared the second we got the call over a year ago. He looked like he had even gotten a few years younger.

Lunch with Lance and Mary was great! We learned more of each other! And let me tell you, I LOVE his wife. She is the sweetest lady! I kept thinking the whole time while talking to her how my daughter would like her. She was just the picture of elegance, grace and beauty. You know how you meet someone that you just know that whether you are a millionaire or a homeless man they would be your friend? That is Mary. Lance is just simply wonderful. He is smart, successful and down to earth. He is funny and witty. He let me feel his pulse and just feeling the beat, beat, beat against my fingers was miraculous to me. And I still can’t get over his smile. Of all the things that I learned of him that day, his smile is the best.

Saturday I met the man that has my son’s heart. Saturday I hugged part of my son. Saturday I made a new friend. Now over the next few weeks, months and years, we will find where we fit in each other’s lives. All that matters to me is that someone is able to smile with life even though my son is not here anymore. A smile still shines on.
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