bravestredhead

A Celebration Of Life

In Uncategorized on November 18, 2010 at 1:46 am

When Trillium Gift of Life Network (the people who are in charge of arranging organ donation in Ontario) asked me to speak and sing at the “Celebration of Life” service and medal presentation to honour Organ and Tissue donors and their Families, I JUMPED at the chance.

But I hadn’t any idea it would be quite such an emotional night.  Of course, in theory I understood it would be somber. But I wasn’t quite prepared for the overwhelming human experience of sitting amongst the families of the donors. Of hearing them reminisce and cry and accept the medals for their loved ones.  It was, as Tom said, “like attending 75 memorials at once.”

I told them my story from the podium, I let them have an inkling of how my life was, and how now it is so simple to sing and to breathe since transplant.  Trillium asked me to sing “I’ll Be Seeing You”, a great wartime hit about missing the one you love. Later, after the medal ceremony and slide show I sang “Star Dust” Carmichael’s great tune that speaks of the “memory of loves refrain”. And the memories were great in the room. You could feel them everywhere. All sizes and colours and sexes and religions had gathered there. And to be part of that tapestry? I can’t explain how that felt. Intense?

So sitting there, seeing the families, and feeling their grief in the air was intense. Seeing a little girl and her Dad accept the medal for her Mom? There was no use in trying not to cry. In theory I think of these brave and generous souls often. But the act of seeing the families in the real — well it was overwhelming. That in their darkest hours they saw fit to allow others to live? Amazing.

I won’t lie: at moments I felt guilty. Felt guilty that I was sitting there beside my husband while they did not have their loved one. But to some of the ones to whom I spoke, at least, hearing me sing helped them in some measure realize the difference their loved one made. Some good out of tragedy.  Sometimes the sorrow seemed overwhelming within this community of families with a common bond… I can’t imagine how awful it feels to be a grieving family member. But BECAUSE of the generosity of someone like them, MY family is not grieving.  And for that there is no words. Just know that I won’t ever forget and I have now an even greater idea of the cost that my happiness comes at.

And for those of you wondering, Yes, it is rather difficult to sing when you’ve been trying to hold back tears for an hour! But I did it with the help of my stalwart pianist…and a very special set of lungs. I can only hope it brought some meaning to the attendants. Their stories certainly touched me. In fact, I am forever touched by them.

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