Today is a big huge day in Addison’s life. It is one entire year since her heart transplant. One entire year since another family gave us a chance to be a family. One entire year we have been living our “new normal”.
We have experienced so many more incredible highs and devastating lows than we ever thought possible. When I look at Addison now, I cannot imagine life without her. She makes our world complete. She teaches us to be strong and to persevere. She doesn’t take “No” for an answer and refuses to give up. She makes us better.
While we have been able to enjoy 365 days of life with our princess, today is a grim date for the donor’s family. Our hearts go out to them. There is nothing we can say to adequately express our deepest gratitude for the precious gift they have given us. Before we left for Italy, Aaron and I sat down and finally finished our letter to the donor family. For two journalists, it was the toughest assignment ever.
Dear Donor Family,
With so much to say, why is it words fail us at times like this? There are many ways to say thank you, but they are completely inadequate for the amazing gift you have given us. Our baby girl is about to turn 1. Eleven months ago in our darkest hour we couldn’t dare dream of a future longer than a few hours. Her first birthday seemed impossibly far away. It is only because of your courage that our daughter has a second chance at life.
Our little girl, our only child, was born healthy and happy. Just before she was three weeks old, she suddenly became very ill. Her heart was in near total failure. She was put on life support, with transplant as the only option. When we got the call that would change her life and our lives forever we also knew it would change another family’s life forever. While we know what it’s like to straddle the edge of life and death with your child, we cannot imagine how impossible it would be to have to say good-bye. We are so thankful you found the strength to say yes to organ donation. We are in awe of your selflessness. Without your gift, our miracle would not have been possible.
Today our daughter is doing incredibly well. Her doctors are pleased with her progress. It is now sometimes hard to remember just how sick she was. She loves to laugh and giggle, especially when she is in motion – on the swings, Daddy tossing her in the air, bouncing up and down. She has always been a tenacious little girl and she is starting to get an independent streak…she insists on feeding herself with the spoon, wants to sit on a chair without anyone’s help. She enjoys reading books and playing games with the baby in the mirror. Her latest obsession is Cheerios.
We think about your family everyday. We know second chances aren’t given to everyone, so as a family we plan to live life to the fullest and make the most of each day we have together. We want to instill the same principles in our daughter as she grows up. Already, she has shown how determined she is to enjoy every moment of life. She has gone through so much in such a short amount of time – she seems wise beyond her years. We hope she will go on to honour the memory of your loved one by living her life with courage, determination and spirit.
We came across a poem recently that resonated with us. In the absence of the right words to express what you and your family means to us, we hope it will offer a little comfort.
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
– by E.E. Cummings
With all our love and gratitude,