Now you notice….

Have you noticed after a major or tragic event in your life how things that have always been around you are now standing out more vividly? The same event that happened to you has been happening all around you the whole time.

Since Richie’s accident, I notice every single train. I lived in town for 8 years before his accident. I barely ever noticed the train blaring it’s horn when it went through. After the accident, I heard it every single time. I never noticed them on TV. Now it seems every show I watch has a train somewhere in them. Even stupid Disney Channel has some stupid Choo-Choo song that seems to get stuck in my head and propel me into a horrible day. Trains, trains and more trains!

Richie was life-flighted after his accident and the room he was in was right at the heli-pad. When we were sitting beside his bed, the choppers wold land and I would wonder if the person in them were worse off than Richie. They seemed to never stop coming. One after the other. Jeff has sense told me that it wasn’t as many as I thought but to me, they seemed to constantly land outside the window. Now, every time I hear the familiar sound of a helicopter, I get chills. I don’t even know if it is a medical one or not, I get chills. And I seem to hear them constantly. I remember as a child when I would hear one, I would look up to the sky in amazement to see what they looked like, where they were going. Now, I try to close off my ears and wait for them to just pass over.

Ambulances. The one thing about the ICU waiting room at Atlanta Medical most may not know is that it right above the ambulance entrance for the emergency room. I wonder if they thought about this design flaw after they built it. All night long we heard ambulance after ambulance arrive. If we went outside for fresh air, that was all we would see and hear. Now we have all noticed ambulances in our life. Hard not to with the bright lights and screaming sirens but now….. Now when I hear them I wonder if it is someone’s child in there dying? Is the person in there a mother, father, brother. IS the person in the ambulance there because of an accident, heart attack or just a simple medical issue,. Is there someone rushing to the hospital praying for the best but preparing for the worst? When I hear the scream of the sirens now, I send up a prayer for the person taking the ride and for the family that will follow behind.

I never noticed how many of the TV shows I watch have had a story line on it. I do not ever remember ER having as many stories on it as Grey’s Anatomy. The news seems to featuring a story almost daily. My FaceBook feed always has stories on it. Even my soap opera had a whole storyline for weeks on Alice the maid needing a heart and how she got one. Organ Donation everywhere!

What about shows with car crashes in them? How many times have I watched a movie or show that had some really cool car crash that I thought was out of this world? Now I cannot watch them. The new Furious movie every one is talking about… WILL NOT be seen by me or in y house. Sometimes I make Jeff or Will watch a movie before I do just to see if it has a trigger in it for me.I cannot stomach parts of movies where the victim is laying in the hospital bed with their head bandaged and all the machines. Sometimes if I watch them because I am that invested in my show, I will have nightmares for many nights after and have extremely horrible days

I never noticed any of these things before like I do now. I have to takes breaks from TV and social media. I spend days where I do not go anywhere because of sounds around me. I will purposely go 5 miles out of my way to keep from going near a train track or hospital. We used to got to Jackson all the time to eat. Now I avoid it as much as possible because the train tracks run along side the road we take to get here and the train is always, ALWAYS coming by. I have been told it will get easier in time. I do not see that, but I pray everyday that it does.

Realistic Relationship With My Son’s Recipients

Since I have met two of Richie’s recipients, people have been asking me how it is. Have I talked to them lately? Have I seen them? What is going on with us? I do not think they know how hard it is to answer these questions. I have never been in this position before.

Let me start with my relationship with Morgan. She is a tissue recipient who is my son’s age. Meeting her was like meeting someone who had been his friend for ages. We laughed, talked and cried. I feel like she is one of the many kids that we have come to meet with all of our children. We are lucky that our children’s friends are ours and we call, text and socialize with them also.I call all my children’s friends my “kids”. Morgan fit right in. I text her time to time and check on her. I will send her messages of love and support if I know something is coming up for her. The relationship is easy going and I think of her as one of my “kids” I don’t get overbearing with her and watch her live her life. I smile when I see pictures of her doing things she may not have been able to do before her gift. I laugh at her silliness on Instagram. I am very fond of her and look forward to watching her blossom in life.

Lance. Lance was 68 when he received my son’s heart. And before you think anything about his age, let me tell you. Age means nothing to me. If he was 107, 53 or 15, I would still be proud of the person receiving the gift. My relationship with Lance was a tough one to navigate at the beginning. Nothing to do with him or the person he is, it was me and all my nerves and thoughts. When we received the call that we were going to meet, I had two weeks to prepare myself. I was worried that he would not like me. I was worried that I would not like him. I had done some research on him and knew that he was a very successful businessman. I knew he had traveled the world.Did I mention that he is originally from up north? How was this man going to fit in with a bona-fide southern stay at home Mom? I called a friend of mine who had met him when her daughter was at Emory waiting on her heart gift. I cried to her, “Debbie, you have met him! How is he going to fit in with us? We like to have bonfires and play in the mud!” She laughed and just told me I was silly. I asked my friend Tonya how she got over her nerves when she met her son’s recipient. She said they all just vanished when you see the person smiling. Well, me and my bundle of nerves, fears and anxiety met Lance. It was easy and smooth and we talked as if we knew each other for ever. He told me about his story, his life and what he is doing now. I left happy and looking forward to where we would go from there. Over the next few days though, I had to catch myself. I kept wanting to call him and ask him if he was ok. Had he ate a good breakfast? Did he take his meds? Had he made poopie-doodle? I felt this overwhelming urge to Mother him. This started me having a few days of turmoil and trying to figure out where do I go with him? He was 68! Not 20. Even though he had my child’s heart, I was not his mother. Nor did it give me a right to mother him, He has a wife to do that. (BTW, I LOVE her!) He didn’t need me smothering him. I knew he was fine and taking care of himself. And the age thing certainly did not make me want him as a Father figure. I had one of those once and it didn’t work out. So where was I to go. We exchanged emails, cards and phone conversations here and there. We just naturally fit into a comfortable friendship. We are still, or better yet, I am still navigating this life and relationship I have now. I like where it is now. We are in each others lives with an understanding that we have a long time of learning about each other. We do not have to rush it all in a week.

I must say, seeing pictures of Lance with his grandchildren playing soccer in the yard, reading them books cuddled on the couch or like yesterday’s picture of waking up with his grandsons and all of them including Lance having bed head, makes me smile and laugh and think how awesome it is. How awesome is it that my son gave this family many more years of memories? I smile at the pictures. Sometimes I have tears of joy from them. When Lance calls or emails to tell me that he is going on a trip with his family, I get excited as if it is me going too!

I have made it clear to both of them what I DO NOT WANT from them. I do not want them to feel as if they owe our family anything. I do not want them to thank me for caring out the wishes my son had already made clear. I do not want them to feel as if they have to include us on anything. This was their gift from my son. Not me. I do however and I have made this very clear to them, want them to do live, laugh, love and do very silly things. I want them to experience all that life has to offer them. Time on this Earth is numbered and they need to have all the exciting and adventurous times they can. Lance said once, I am going to take care of this heart and protect it. Well that is all fine and dandy but is he gets the urge to jump on a skateboard and try to do a trick, I want him to do it! LIVE! Do something they have never done before! I want Morgan to get married and have tons of babies! I want her to go on trips to exotic places. I want to Lance to build a fort in the dining room with the grand babies. I want him to be at their graduations. I want him to dance in the rain with Mary! LIVE!!!!!

There are still days where I feel an overwhelming urge to call and check on him like I do my living children. On those days I just send him a short message saying I am thinking of him. I do this with Morgan too. I will probably always do this, But it is ok. They have both figured out by now that I have a little crazy in me. And that is quite alright!