I got up and on the road early on Tuesday. Did I need to get there early…no. Was it therapeutic to be there early and have time to relax, absolutely.
The MC for the event is a news reporter for KCRG. She has a connection to organ donation and as she told her story to the crowd, I had this feeling that I was going to have to bring everything I had to even get close in making the impact I wanted after hearing her speak. I was able to talk with her a little the second day in Johnston and it is amazing how donation can bring people into your life that make you feel normal, that is if you are willing to talk about it.
One might think hearing someone speak about the history of organ donation would be boring. Not true. I found myself at the edge of my seat listening to Dr. Geist talk about the leaps that have been made in organ donation. I wanted to know more. I have enough information for now, but she can bet I will ask her questions next time I get to hear her speak.
For those who don’t know about Garrett’s path…now you do. Visit www.garrettspath.org. I have read the story, heard the story but until you hear it from his parents mouth, see the emotion of sadness and grief you don’t get it. It is after they tell their story that you see and hear hope. Yes I lost my husband and it was a bad deal. I have not lost a child. There is no comparison in grief…none. It hurts my heart and heals my heart more hearing their story. It brings home the feeling that in life there is death, in death there can be life and through life you heal.
My speech on day one followed a talk about the grieving process. I sat there and waited my turn listening to 3 professionals talk about grief. So many times I found myself saying yep…shaking my head up and down agreeing with every single word they said. I started my speech off with my 3 sentences that would grab people’s attention and then I gave credit where it was due. I said, “Everything you have just heard is true. Every single word. I know it, because I’ve lived it.” They showed the following video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Evwgu369Jw&sns=fb) and honestly it is the best thing I have seen sharing how people should be with others. Not just in traumatic times but in life. I googled the link after the presentation just so I knew I could find it and share it with others.
There was breakfast, lunch and snacks. I didn’t want you to think they didn’t feed us because they did…and it was GOOD. J I digress…let’s get to the rest of the good stuff. J
We got to hear from one of Garrett Brockway’s recipients at the conference. Hearing from recipients NEVER gets old. Never. It is the proof you need to know organ donation really works.
Then I learned about Living Kidney Donors. The process is mind boggling to be honest. And then we had the treat of listening to an actual living kidney donor. He was part of the 5 way kidney pair donation done in Des Moines,Iowa at Mercy Hospital in January 2013. I got to hear that presentation twice because of when I arrived at the conference on day 2. Amazing. There is no other way to put it. Tyler was/is “the guy.” For those that heard him speak, this would make you laugh.
On the second day, my speech was done with 2 people talking about honoring donor families. I had fun with this presentation. I was a little nervous, I’m not going to lie. The day before there were 20 people or so that listened to me. This group on day 2 was much larger. That was not a bad thing…lots of eyes looking directly at me…but it also meant many lives to have an impact on. I made them cry but I also made them laugh. I smiled as I put the mic back and walked back to my chair. I had shared our story…our journey and most importantly continued Jay’s ripple effect.
As awards were handed out the Polk county medical examiners office was announced as a winner of something. I instantly thought…”I wonder if the MEI that was with me in the ER is here.” I kept calm and kind of forgot about the thought…that is until we were dismissed and as I stood up from my seat a familiar face was standing next to me. She said “Hi…do you remember me?” It was her. The woman that unknowingly started my healing on Day 1. Without a second thought I smiled, grabbed her into a hug and said “Hi Lisa.” She was here. She heard me speak. She was one of the first to see me in those moments on May 9th,2012. She is the soft heart and the logical mind that helped me through one of the most difficult days in my life. I am forever grateful to her. I am so excited she got to hear me speak. I am so happy she got to see what she help start.
The conference theme was “Ripple effect.” Throw a rock in a lake and you will see a ripple effect of that action. It was well put together. I learned a lot and I am honored to have the opportunity to speak.
Organ donation is more often seen as an “End of Life” decision. This is true however when I think about Jay it was just his decision. The cause was his death but his effect was a life enhancing decision. I have been thinking about this notion since I got home after day 2. Why can we not think of it as a “continuation/enhancement of life” decision? If you make the decision and make it known to those you love, you release them from the fear they are making a wrong decision. In your death, you can continue or enhance someone’s life. You can live on in others. Give your life and your death meaning to those that love you.
I thank Jay every day for the people, opportunities and perspectives he has placed into our lives. If Jaywalking through life is illegal…give me the damn ticket. He knew more in life and is doing more in his death then many could ever dream of doing. I am so glad I said yes. I am so honored to continue Jay’s Ripple.