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My Big Insight from Meeting the Woman Who Received My Daughter’s Heart

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“I rested my head on his chest and was with my son again. I spent so long in the dark that I never thought the night would end. Found me…and I had to let him in. ~Bonnie Raitt from “Just Like That”

It came as no surprise to me that Bonnie Raitt won a Grammy for Song of the Year 2023. “Just Like That” tells the story of a woman who is suddenly visited by a man who has won the heart of his late son. A song that can make anyone cry.

I was that woman, a donor mom known in the world of transplants. I figured it out.

With both donors and recipients pushed to the brink of life, our bullshit magically disappears. , seems insignificant and insignificant.

In the vast ocean of humanity, someone is carrying your precious child’s organs and tissues. Somewhere there is still a little piece of a beloved son or daughter.

They are not completely gone. And despite the confusion, pain, and crushing grief, you finally understand the greater truth: life goes on.

I lost my 22-year-old freewheeling, blues-singing daughter, Teal, to a medically inexplicable cardiac arrest. At the time, I was a workaholic, focused squarely on myself and my very important agenda. There was little concern for the plight of others.

Teal, by contrast, was known to her friends as “Kannon” for her sensitivity and deep compassion.

The night before she died, Thiel called me. “I think I’m going to have a really big seizure,” she told me. Her epilepsy was usually well controlled with medication, so I wasn’t too worried. I offered to take him to the nearest ER, but Teal refused.

“They’re going to tell me to change my meds,” she said. “But I like these. They bring me closer to God.”

Then a strange thing happened. I asked Thiel if this experience had anything to do with her life purpose. Because, as we both knew, Teal wanted to be a healer.

“I’m really happy to hear that,” she said, looking a little relieved.

The next night, Thiel showed up an hour late to a dinner we arranged at a San Francisco restaurant. She drifted away, ate dinner, and drifted away without a word. Two hours later she collapsed in a locked bathroom and she remained in a coma until six days later when she was taken off life support.

That made Thiel an excellent candidate for organ donation.

When asked if I wanted to donate her organs, I knew this was probably as close as Teal would become a healer, so I agreed. I didn’t know how to proceed.

All we knew was that we wanted to get in touch, so a year later we did our best to write to three organ transplant recipients in Teal.

Two years later, a letter arrived in my inbox from a young woman who had obtained Teal’s heart and kidney.

“I have been trying to put together a letter for a long time, not knowing where to start…” she wrote.

She explained that she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure when she was 19 and nearly died three times in eight years before the transplant. Her transplant dramatically improved her life, she explained. Because she finally got the energy to do what most young women her age took for granted.

She listed all the things she wants to accomplish now, including buying real estate and building a house, traveling around the world, and having lots of animals. She has a degree in medical imaging. get married

“When I get the chance, I feel like your daughter,” she concluded. “She is a part of me and I will be forever grateful.”

Years later, when we finally met, on the very same San Francisco beach where we once scattered Teal’s ashes, we held each other tight for a long time, tears streaming down our faces. A stranger and I were on the edge of our lives, but we got back together.

I listened to Thiel’s heart that afternoon. Yes, it was my daughter’s heartbeat, but it actually sounded like her heart. And then I realized something important.

Thiel was talking about something called the Integrated Field of Love. This is the space that exists between us all, where we can set aside our differences and connect. In this place, I remember that we are all more alike than we are different.

If your heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, and corneas work fine in mine, and mine works fine in yours, how different are any of us actually?

I think about this when I don’t see eye contact with my family or when someone disturbs me in a high traffic area in the Bay Area. And that’s what I do when I’m interrupting someone’s political rants on TV.

That person is me—whether I like it in the moment or not. They are just experiencing life in a different way.

At times like that, I can’t help but sympathize. love. Dear Grace, as beautifully expressed by Bonnie in her lyrics. When we look at ourselves in each other, we can’t help but choose grace, no matter how broken. And no matter how hard we get.

Today I am in contact with Teal’s heart and kidney recipient and she has achieved everything on the list and has achieved some.

“I never take for granted what Thiel has given me,” she wrote to us in her first incredible letter.

It’s clear to me that she doesn’t. And neither do we.

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