Incredibly Nice Things

I’ve been keeping a little scrap piece of paper that says “Incredibly Nice Things People Did” so I wouldn’t forget to someday blog about the kind surprises we’ve had through this journey. I shared these four events with family members as they happened, but then somehow between the clinic reports they got lost and I never shared them with the world. They were little things in some people’s eyes, but huge for us, and I wanted to publicly thank and recognize the kind-hearted people who shared their love, and didn’t even know Sarah or our family.

Incredibly Nice Things People Did #1: A Good Luck Necklace

In the middle of January, a year and a half ago, Sarah was awaiting word of her listing for a heart transplant. An article hit the front page of the local newspaper that told her story, and a couple of days later, she was finally listed. Sometime that week, she received in the mail a very kind, anonymous letter and a beautiful handmade necklace that deeply touched our hearts. I hope the designer of this necklace doesn’t mind me sharing parts of her letter. She (I’m taking liberty here to assume that this gift was created and sent by a female….) said that the article in the paper quickly grabbed her attention and through tears and smiles, she realized how much Sarah has already been through and how strong she is. The author shared shared her own story about a surgery that completely changed her life. She was sustained by prayers of family and friends, and knew she was completely in God’s hands. She is grateful that God saved her life and allowed that experience to change who she was. The support she received had a huge impact on her life, knowing that complete strangers were praying for her. She added that she knew Sarah’s journey wouldn’t be an easy one, and that she would be continually praying for her during her waiting and recovery.

Then she explains her enclosed gift…

DSC_0068I designed a little necklace for you because simple words and symbolism tend to have a bigger impact than we realize…. I admire birds and their symbolic meaning of freedom. However, God has shown me that birds have a dynamic meaning to them. “Do not worry. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.” (Matthew 6:26 – The Message Version) A lion of course symbolizes many things including fierce, strength, courage, and brave. All of which you are, always remember that! Hope is more precious than anything in this world, so many people need it and yet so few hold on to it. Don’t ever give up on your hope Sarah. The lock and key–God is opening new doors for you, a new journey to embark on that will draw you closer to him. And after reading your blog…I simply included your favorites; pink and green. 🙂

I hope the love and gratitude with which the gift and that letter was received was somehow felt by this sweet individual. I hope she was able to feel it returned to her many times over as  she carefully and thoughtfully wrote that letter and created the beautiful necklace, and then waited quietly while Sarah received it. Being anonymous, there was no way we could even begin to thank her for such a special gift, and for the many many prayers she (and I’m sure her friends also) offered to God in Sarah’s behalf over the following months. But the story of that necklace doesn’t end there….

Sarah wore the necklace the first time just days after receiving it. And later that night, she got her first call and offer for a new heart. (You may remember, it turned out that we could not accept the heart, and then began her pre-transplant treatments to get her in the best shape possible for when the right heart did come.) She didn’t wear the necklace much after that, but it hung in her room to remind her that a stranger loved her and was praying for her. After moving into the hospital and up on the waiting list, I asked her one day why she never wore it anymore. She said she honestly was scared to, because she wasn’t sure she was ready yet for her new heart. We’re really not superstitious people, but she felt that it somehow could bring her her new heart, and wearing it would demonstrate that she was ready. She didn’t feel ready. Weeks passed, and once when I went home to gather a few more things for her, I saw the necklace hanging in her room. I packed it to hang it in her hospital room to keep reminding her of Heavenly Father’s love, her courage, opportunities ahead, and the love and prayers of so many strangers, friends, and loved ones. Only days after my return with the necklace, she received news that a perfect angel heart was ready for her. We all know it wasn’t really the necklace’s doing, but that it was all in God’s hands how and when things happened in Sarah’s journey. Still, it was pretty remarkable how symbolic that necklace really was in her life, throughout this journey, and what it has come to mean to her. We have lovingly nicknamed this necklace her “Good Luck” necklace, and she still wears it with gratitude, courage and honor. Thank you to someone who offered a part of their heart to a sweet stranger. It truly strengthened Sarah, and her parents.


Doing the Happy Dance

00a50f663379dc7cc7da3bd269be8e9bSarah had another biopsy today, the first one since med changes following her antibody-induced rejection showed up. She did really great, everything looked great at clinic, and we’ve been doing the happy dance all afternoon! Her biopsy results came back….SQUEAKY CLEAN!! No more rejection – of either kind! For the moment, there will be no changes to her treatment, and we don’t have to go back to transplant clinic for two months!! How’s that for enjoying this summer?! Feel free to join us in our happy dance….

A couple of weeks ago, we also went to the adult liver clinic at the University Hospital. She met with the nurse practitioner we worked with when they were evaluating for liver transplant almost two years ago. (Wow…can’t belive it’s been that long….) Anyway, she’s really nice, and we like her a lot. She asked what Sarah had been up to since she saw her last and she drawled, “Well…, I got a new heart…” Karen was so excited for her, and so happy to see how great she looked. It was kind of a fun reunion. She looked over her labs and history post-heart-transplant for a while, and then examined her. She said sometimes a major surgery like she had will cause problems with the liver, and with hers already sick, she expected to see some evidence of the trauma. However, there really weren’t any problems during her recovery with her liver, and no signs of stress on the liver, either. She told us that was a sign of a pretty resilient organ, to be able to bounce back after such a major surgery so well. It is her opinion that with her new heart, not only has the damage to her liver stopped, it is very likely that her liver will actually begin to heal. She said it might take a long time to see a change, but she gave us a lot of hope that things will actually look better in the years to come.

This is just so completely amazing. I’m so very grateful for the incredible people who are taking such good care of Sarah. I’m glad I just trusted them and didn’t worry about the rejection this time, like I did before. There was a lot more peace in my life, and my heart, just letting go and turning it over to Heavenly Father and the very capable angels in lab coats that take care of her. I really just don’t know how to contain my relief and happiness with another squeaky clean biopsy. How grateful I am that this rejection roller coaster has only been a six-month ride. A few of our transplant friends have fought it over and over, for such a long time…  I think I’ll just keep doing my happy dance, and spend some extra time on my knees tonight thanking Heavenly Father for blessing Sarah’s angel heart…and her life…yet again. Just another bump and a miracle… God is good!

~ Julia