“Our fingertips don’t fade from the lives we touched.”
A little over nine years ago, I attended my first “Heart Transplant Dinner” at my transplant center. These dinners are a monthly gathering of folks and their families that are in some stage of the transplant journey. These monthly events are hosted by the heart transplant social worker (one of the finest people I’ve ever met in my lifetime) and the folks that attend run the gambit of those waiting to be transplanted, all the way up to the folks that were transplanted 20+ years ago. The dinners are a support group in their own way.
I clearly remember my first dinner. I was perhaps seven weeks post transplant and still quite weak. I could walk, but not long distances, so I arrived at the first dinner in a wheelchair. I also remember that I still had a very raspy voice from being intubated for weeks and I spoke like Marlon Brando in the Godfather.
We arrived a bit early and sat at a table in the Physician’s Dining Room, where the events were held in those days. Soon a woman and her husband arrived and sat next to us. We quickly learned that “Nancy” was a recipient and she was with her husband. Nancy was the first woman and the first non-volunteer heart transplant recipient that I had met. Nancy was a small woman, with a quiet voice. Her journey had started four years before mine. I spoke with her a lot that evening and she made a profound impact on me. I learned about her journey, about the healing process …… the physical, the emotional and the spiritual … I learned stuff that the Doctor’s can’t tell you. We’d see each other at the transplant dinners over the past nine years, it was always good to visit with her.
Yesterday, I found out that Nancy’s husband passed away a few weeks ago, and sadly she followed him in death nine days later. I know she touched my life and she’ll be missed, they’ll both be missed.
Thank you and Rest In Peace, my friend.