looking through me

living in memories

I slid the egg into my coat pocket and headed out the door.

Its cold presence pricked my memory and reminded me of Grandpa taking hard-boiled eggs in his lunch when he worked as a church custodian. I pictured Grandma standing in front of the open refrigerator, hand hesitating in midair, a tiny smile curling the corners of her mouth before she grabbed an egg and placed it in Grandpa’s lunch pail.

I’m sure she grinned all morning in anticipation of the moment he’d be sitting on the couch, chatting with Max, unpacking his lunch. She knew he used the wooden piece on the top of the arm to crack his eggs. I wonder if she had more fun imagining his shock at cracking open a raw egg or him frantically trying to clean egg off the couch’s upholstery.

She never could tell the story without dissolving into laughter. It tickled her every time . . . it took a few years before it tickled Grandpa, though even in his exasperation he couldn’t help but smile and shake his head at the delight it brought her.

This morning I noticed my own smile as I reached for the egg in my pocket. It was hard boiled, but I cracked it in the break room and peeled it over the trash can anyway.


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give and receive

A fifteen-year-old girl nearly died on a Friday morning in California. Her father and first responders—then multiple emergency surgeries and interventions—kept her alive. She spent her sixteenth birthday in a coma. She spent thirty days balancing between life and death in a hospital waiting for a heart.

A two-year-old girl in Arkansas probably never saw the car that crossed the center line and struck her grandma’s car head on. She, too, spent days comatose. But instead of waiting for an organ to save her life, her family faced a week of agony followed by the words: brain dead. Because of their sacrificial love a six-month-old received a heart, an eight-month-old received a liver and a sixty-seven-year-old received new kidneys.

Two days later and more than 1800 miles away, the sixteen-year-old’s family learned their middle daughter would be getting a heart.

These stories intersect only in time and prayer. The families do not know one another. I never met the two-year-old who became an organ donor or the sixteen-year-old who became an organ recipient. But I’ve prayed for them, and their families, since each of them went into the hospital: one waiting to receive and one waiting to give.

Both families faced the horror and beauty of organ donation and the delicate timelines associated with it. Miracle after miracle unfolded, creased by pain.

Today, one family is burying a toddler. And another family is in the earliest, most fragile post-transplant hours praying a weary body will accept a stranger’s final gift.

And words lodge sideways in my throat because life requires death—how can that be?—my head almost grasps it, but my heart does not.

Grief and joy. They come in such quick succession they blur into an indistinguishable assault. A one-two combination. And the weight of emotion behind their punches is breath-taking.

Even as I pray for two families, the number affected is so much greater . . . in ways awful and awesome.


This was written two weeks ago today, March 6, the day of a burial in Arkansas and a successful heart transplant in California. And today, March 20, that sixteen-year-old girl still has a long road to recovery, but she is recovering well and her “new” heart has saved her life.

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