I’m trying to wrap my head around the reason I’m sitting here typing through tears as I cry like a baby. Over the past four months since Paul died, I’ve spent a fair bit of time wracked in misery and despair.
But this is different. This is a sense of joy that I never expected. This is an overwhelming elation that I’m finding difficult to describe. But I’ll try.
In the midst of the chaos in the emergency room that sad Monday the week before Christmas, I asked the doctor if they could use any of Paul’s organs. I was told, no, they had been trying to revive him too long for them to be viable. It’s not just organs, though, I was told. There are many soft tissues that can be used as well. Would I agree to that?
Of course. No doubt. Absolutely.
A day or two later, after an extensive phone interview with the Eye Bank of Canada, I was told that they were able to take Paul’s eyes. They weren’t sure if they would be able to use them for transplant or research, and asked if I would agree to both options.
Paul was a teacher. Would it not be fitting for him to keep teaching, even now?
I felt happy with the decision and hung up with the understanding that at some point they would let me know what had happened.
I just received a letter from the Eye Bank of Canada. They expressed their condolences on Paul’s passing and their appreciation over his gift. Very sincere. And then:
“Although it is difficult to express our immense appreciation for your humanitarian action, we would now like to let you know the positive result of your husband’s eye donation which you permitted. A few days after your husband passed away, his eyes were used in two sight-restoring transplants.”
Whatever has been holding me upright for four months just let go. I’ve been crying for hours. These last few days have been so hard. And then this shows up.
Paul was pure energy. He was enthusiasm, and hope. Love and laughter. A never-ending smile that lit up his face. Friend to all. Role-model, mentor, teacher. Father, son, husband, friend, brother. For so many, the world is a darker place without him.
But to think, that right now, this very minute, somewhere, someone – no, two someones! – is seeing the world through his eyes is something so overwhelming, so fitting, so magical. How many times did I watch Paul overflow with excitement over any one of life’s many joys and think, “the world would be a better place if we all saw it like Paul does?”
“‘Tis better to give than to receive’ has just been taken up to a whole new level!
I have the option of possibly connecting with the two people who received some pretty fantastic Christmas presents. Truthfully, if they really did want to meet me, I’d certainly be okay with that.
But I think, for now, I’m happy not knowing who they are, or anything about them. There are so many scenarios running through my head. I’m imagining someone seeing his baby for the first time. Seeing the stars in the sky. Reading! Watching a baseball game. Winking at a loved one. And every new idea that pops into my head starts the tears anew.
Tears of joy. Pride. Love. Acceptance. Joy.
For now, I will walk down the street and wonder forever, if the person looking back at me through dark brown twinkling eyes could be a glimpse of Paul, still alive, still happy, still with us. And somehow, there’s a spark of hope that comes with that. Hope for I don’t know what. But it sure feels wonderful!
We often hear about the gratitude of the recipients and their families for the loved ones of the lost donor. But I’ve never heard of the impact the donation has on the decision maker. How astonishing to find that the result of that one conversation could reflect back on me, I’m sure, as much as it has on the people who received Paul’s eyes. If I can somehow manage to convey at all, the utter peace I feel right now, and thereby convince one other person to give the gift of donation, I will consider today a resounding success!!