Our Shannon Gifts of Life
In the months following Shannon's accident we searched frantically for a way to give meaning to the new life that we found ourselves in. We needed a way to focus on the wonder and beauty of life. We wanted Nan to be able to look down on us and say to her new friends, "They're my Mom and Dad, aren't they something?"
The people at LifeNet, Virginia's organ procurement organization gave us a way, and along with the National Kidney Foundation, we met other families, both Donor and Recipients who knew personally what we were facing. The following is a note that I posted to the NKF Message board several months ago.
"On May 1,1998, my 23 year old daughter Shannon returned to Heaven, the result of an automobile accident. Even after 13 months, as I write those words it seems impossible. This can't possibly be my life....the realization is as painful today as is was a year ago, but I have found ways to celebrate her life and one of those is through spreading the message of Organ Donation. On Friday I had the privilege of speaking to a group of Medal of Life recipients. When I looked into the faces of Living Donors and the families of Organ Donors, my heart was so full that I could hardly breathe. There is something so special about people who love so unselfishly. I knew that the room was full of Angels, although unseen, their presence was unmistakable. I have heard from the recipient of one of Shannon's kidneys, and I have come to care very deeply for her. Her life gives me a sense of peace that nothing else ever could. I had hoped at some point to meet all of the recipients to reassure them of our absolute joy in their lives. My husband and I sent letters soon after the accident through our Organ Procurement Organization and have been concerned because we hadn't heard from others. Friday I learned that the transplant surgeon refused to forward our letters. He decided that it wasn't in his patient's best interest to know who his donor was. My heart aches because of his attitude. I can certainly appreciate that he only wants whats best for his patient, but doesn't he realize that that is exactly what we as Donor Parents want as well? I would love for them to know just how special Shannon is and how happy she is that her accident was their gift of life. We have never...NEVER....thought that Shannon left us so that another could live. Shannon left us and the fact that another family is not facing that same sorrow is what gives us the strength to go forward. We celebrate Shannon's Heaven day......just as we celebrate the lives of her recipients and there is no sorrow in that."
If there had been a way for Shannon to come back to us through transplant, I would have prayed that somewhere someone would have been willing to see hope through their grief and choose to donate. We were blessed because Shannon had always been an advocate for donation. We knew what her wishes were and when we learned that she had gifted life to four other families, we knew that she was smiling.
It's not enough to sign your license, talk to your family. No one wants to face this kind of tragedy but knowing our daughter's wishes made the worst moment of our lives more bearable.
January 16, 2004
We are still creating bookmarks and have gifted 60,000 of them since Shannon left us. "Bookmark Therapy" keeps us close to her and gives others the opportunity to share that gentle wisdom that our daughter left us with. Our hope is that maybe someone will be inspired to really listen to the people they love, look at a sunset, hug a friend, find hope and joy in every moment, eat good food and really appreciate the time they have with their own children.
Shannon loved with her whole heart. She was generous and wise and reserved and profound. In April before her accident she wrote, "Ultimately, we all originate from the same place. I believe that in whatever form and by whatever name your God goes by, the greatest gift we could give Him, Her or It, would be to realize we all came from the same place and we will all end in the same place, and in that realization learn to get along and love one another."
And until we can be together again, that is my hope for you as well.Heaven Days
Global Art Project
Everything on these pages is original and copyrighted, do not take anything without written permission from Shannon's parents