Last week in school, Addison’s kindergarten teacher was talking to the kids about gratitude. She asked the class to share what they were grateful for and of course, the answers were pretty typical for five and six-year-olds. Except for Addison. She promptly put up her hand and announced, “I am grateful for Audrey giving me her heart.” Apparently, her friends didn’t think anything of it but her teacher was stunned into momentary silence. While her teacher and school know all about Addison’s medical history, the matter-of-fact way she just volunteered that thought wasn’t expected.
It reminded me that most parents and kids don’t have heavy discussions around weighty topics, including life and death, at such a young age. Aaron and I have always been very open and honest with Addison about her transplant. We don’t go overboard with graphic details but we don’t gloss things over either. We don’t use euphemisms, we don’t “soften” medical jargon, we try to say it like it is. We talk about Audrey and her mom Felicia as members of our extended family. Without them, we wouldn’t be a family.
Today, we celebrate Addison’s sixth heart-iversary. When she was first put on the transplant list, I found all kinds of terrifying statistics on Google. I felt physically ill when confronted by the grim survival rates, and horrified about the potential complications. But with Audrey’s gift of life, we had hope. My baby girl was given a chance. We never forget that. Now it has been 2192 days.
We honour Audrey’s incredible gift and we reflect on all that Addison has been able to see, feel, taste, hear, smell and experience since her transplant. Words will never be enough to convey our gratitude. So we do our best to live life as large as we can, and continually encourage Addison to remember Audrey with love and gratefulness.
Elaine, Aaron, Addison and Charlie