May 15, 2014

Part 1: Unwavering Gratitude

Unwavering Gratitude

Part 1: The Call


Allow me to re-introduce myself. I am Judy Bode, Co-Founder of myHeart yourHands, kindred friend of Stephanie Zimmerman. Together we founded MHYH while I was in end stage heart failure, awaiting heart transplant. My heart failed due to the successful radiation treatments used to cure my Hodgkin’s Lymphoma as a child. I awaited the gift of a new heart for 3 years, 6 months, and 2 days.

This past September 5, I received the gift of a new heart! At 2:23am the phone woke us. Not only did our lives change at that moment, but I was offered the gift of life. My transplant coordinator’s first words to me were, “Judy, we have a heart for you”.

While my husband and daughter scurried about to pack the car for a 5 hour trip and possible one month stay, my mind kept thinking that a family had already consented to donate their loved one’s heart. His/her family had already been given the agonizing news that their loved one had died. They did not know me, my family, or my circumstances of needing a new heart, yet they offered this gift–to me!

As we traveled, I had much time to ponder the call and all that lay ahead. My heart was filled with anticipation, but already tempered with grief and tears. I knew nothing of this family, still I felt their pain. I did not know if I would ever learn about my donor, but by the end of the day, I would carry that heart within me!

How does one begin to express gratitude for renewed Life? What words are adequate or substantive enough? A thank you hug seems adequate for a homemade meal brought over for your family. A thank you hug and card seems more appropriate for a birthday gift of cash or clothes. But a heart? How do I convey my gratitude for a heart, for LIFE? What are the essential words, or actions, or even thoughts?

I have come to realize that these questions are not easily answered for me, as well as every transplant patient I know. Though I am confident these answers will gradually unfold. Perhaps this will take a life time! What I do believe, with all of my heart, is that I am called to live a life of gratitude. Indeed, I want to live my life with gratitude.

Judy Bode

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