As I sit in the lanai of my home looking out over the water and watching the sunrise I am thinking of the past two days and the people that have crossed my path. It is amazing how some days you can randomly meet people that touch your life and remind you that there is a purpose to the life you are living. On Friday, I had the honor of meeting a woman, that just two weeks earlier, lost her son. We meet through a vendor at our monthly market. The vendor approached myself and Kelli and told us about this women’s loss. Once she pointed her out I was hesitant to approach her because I know what she was feeling, I know the feeling of parental grief and all the pain that comes with it. I know what it is like to be in the middle of a hundreds of people and feel so alone. I know that sometimes you just want to be left alone and you don’t want to talk about your loss. After Kelli went up to her and she began talking, I also walked up to her and just stood there and listened for a moment. I heard that she was out with two of her friends and it was the first time she had left her home. I heard the pain and sorrow in her voice, a sound I so vividly remember. I was introduced to this lady and she began to tell me about her son, thirty three years old, and I told her about Lindsay. They were both donors and through their selflessness, they both saved lives. She had tears in her eyes as her sons death was still very fresh in her heart. I gave her a big hug and told her, “I have been right where you are today Sweetie. No matter the age the pain is still the same. We have just meet but now we are connected for life.” I continued to tell her even though we had just met, if she ever needed me or just wanted to talk all she had to do was reach out. She asked if I knew of a group that she could attend, a support group of some type that would help her get through this very early days of grief. I highly recommended the group Compassionate Friends. I told her how much this group had help Lindsay’s mom. The support, the fellowship and the comradery they give truly helped, and still helps, Kellie through each day. She asked her friends to please remember and help her follow up on going to a meeting. As we parted ways I gave her one more hug and whispered in her ear, “Ma’am, time will ease the pain, but the hurt will always remain. Remember the good, concentrate on the happy, and always, always say his name.” Now with tears in both of our eyes we said goodbye, for now.
On Saturday, as I was standing in our space at the market when a short, small framed smiling red head came walking up, it was Ms. Jeanne Connolly. Jeanne has been our “go to” person with Carolina Donor Services and has always been a huge supporter of the Lindsay M. Benton Foundation. She always brings a breath of fresh air anywhere she goes. Jeanne has asked me to speak at a various venues telling Lindsay’s story and the donor family side of organ donation. Little did she know what an effect it would have on my grief recovery. Only a few moments later Mrs. Jill Helm came walking through our doors and she did not come alone. You see Jill is the recipient of one of Lindsay’s kidneys, and carries a very special part of our heart with her everyday. What a wonderful day seeing Jeanne and Jill at the same time.
I so often think of my grandparents, Frank and Maylor Gore along with my other grandma, Ethel Benton. My grandparents had a total of ten children, six sons and four daughters. Before my grandparents left this world at the ages of 89, 86 and 100 they lost a total of 4 children and two grandchildren. My grandparents Frank and Maylor lost three sons and two grandchildren, my grandma Ethel Benton lost a son and also her husband. The youngest son lost was 16 and the oldest was 58. The youngest grand child was 10 and the oldest was 39. I try sometimes to put my self in my grandfathers shoes, the loss of multiple children is unfathomable to me. We lost one, and I don’t know if I would make it through another. I remember as a young child sitting at my grandmother’s house and just watching her sit, rock and cry. I could not understand why she was so upset, why she was so distraught, why she would not go to the funeral. After we lost Lindsay I understood completely. The grief of losing a child is indescribable, and the pain that fills your heart is immeasurable.
Death does not discriminate, it does not check birth certificates or drivers licenses, it does not know age at all. It does not look at color or nationality, it does not care about religion or any other beliefs. Death does not, never has or never will, follow any schedule. By the time you finish reading this blog, in the United States alone, two people per second have died, 105 people per minute have left this world and 6,316 people per hour have left loved ones behind. I can assure, you no matter the cause, no matter the reason, they did not choose death, death chose them. I am asking that when you finish reading this blog don’t procrastinate, use one of the many ways we communicate these days and tell someone you love them, tell someone you miss them, tell someone you care.