Two years ago, tomorrow, I received a phone call that I had prayed would come for five terrifying months. It was a phone call that would change my life, my family, my entire being, more than I ever could have imagined.
I remember every detail of the conversation, and I have replayed it in my memory thousands of times. If it had gone differently, if it had come sooner, if we had made different choices, would the end result have changed?
But the call will never change. My response will always be the same. And the result will always be that he is gone.
It was early afternoon and we had just come home from a walk to the playground. It was unseasonably warm and my sweet little man was feeling good since we had decided to take a break from chemo before starting a different approach to treatment. I have beautiful photos from that day of him smiling at the top of the tiny toddler slide. But looking at them now, I see how fragile and sick he really was.
That day there were no fevers, no tummy aches, and he felt good enough to crawl around a little. It was a good day. We were home, not in the hospital, and we were feeling good. My cell phone rang right as I finished changing him and hooking up his afternoon g-tube feed.
“We have a liver and two kidneys from a healthy infant donor.” The transplant surgeon on the phone said to me.
This was it. After too many rounds of chemo, countless trip to the ER with fevers and threats of sepsis, multiple stays in PICU, the waiting, the worrying, the heartache. We were finally going to be able to cure our baby.
He transplanted the following day on my thirty-fifth birthday. He went to Heaven eight days after that.
In two days I will turn thirty-seven. My phone will ring with well-wishes from friends and family, who all know their “happy birthdays” are more condolences than they are celebrations. My birthday will never quite be a true celebration again, because a part of me was also lost that day.
But getting older has also gotten just a little bit easier knowing a small part of me is already in Heaven, and there is nothing but good stuff waiting for me on the other side.