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Its been 5 months since that horrible morning. 5 months since I made the choice to let Tin Man go. That was one and will be one of the hardest choices I ever have to make. In some ways it doesn't seem like its been that long and in others it seems like a lifetime ago. Either way it still hurts. I still have days that it doesn't seem real. Times where I get excited when I hear a car door. Then everything comes rushing back and I find myself in tears again. I know this is normal, but normal or not, it sucks.
In honor of Tin Man and his donor, the kids and I walked the 2 miles on Saturday at the Donate Life Walk.
We walked it last year with Tin Man. Even though it took us almost an hour and half to walk the 2 miles, he finished it. He was so proud of himself, and even though I was annoyed with him because he was having problems breathing, but determined to do it, I was proud of him too. After he got his transplant we talked about this years walk. It was the first big thing he planned on doing after transplant.
Even though he didn't get to do it, the kids and I decided this is one way we plan on honoring him, and his donor, every year.
It was hard. Seeing people that new and loved Tin Man. These people deal with organ donation on a daily basis, whether it be a donor family, a receipiant, or a volunteer. These people have their own stories to share, but to see just how much Tin Man's story impacted these people amazes me. Not just his story, but who he was as a person. He was just one of those people you couldn't help but love. He had all the reason in the world to complain, but he never did. He always found the positive things he could focus on. That's one thing anyone who knew him remembers most.
We had a picture of the kids and him from last year's walk that we carried with us. This picture caused a lot of people to stop and ask about it. The kids loved being able to share their dad's story with others. Even though it brings a lot of tears, in some ways it brings on healing too.
We met one guy that was only sick for 4 years before his heart transplant. He told us that he couldn't imagine living his entire life with a sick heart. He was even more amazed when he found out that Patrick played baseball and hockey, plus marching band.
They also had an area where you could write a message to your loved on on a butterfly and then plant it in the garden of butterflies. The kids and I each did one, but there was a total of 9 butterflies for Patrick. Seeing how much he impacted these people, who deal with organ donation on a daily basis, amazed me. Its just another reminder about what kind of person Patrick was, and also adds fuel to my wanting to continue honoring him and sharing his story.
There were many tears, but it was a great day. We got to see a lot of our friends and extended family, and we made new ones.
The kids and I still aren't quite ready to jump back into being Donate Life Ambassadors full time yet, but we're slowly easing our way back into it.