Last week we enjoyed a family vacation to Durango, Colorado with 2 other couples from our church small group. It was a first for us to go there. And another first awaits us one week from today as we will be the farthest north Jesse and I have ever been: Maine.
And for very good reason: to meet the little girl who holds a piece of Eli's heart.
We've had 4 weeks to prepare for this trip but there has really not been a way to actually "prepare" for this type of meeting. We've dreamed of this day for 4 years, never really expecting the opportunity to arise considering how rare this type of meeting is.
In December, just finding out that the deed was done; the surgery had taken place and that there was another human being out there in this world that was saved because of Eli was all the news we needed to move on. We didn't expect anything more than that. We were actually quite blessed to even have had that news.
A friend of mine asked me yesterday if this meeting with Cambrie and her family in Maine would 'set me back' in regards to my healing process after Eli. My immediate and confident answer was "No". Absolutely not. Because? We never wanted his death to be in vain. We always wanted to know that purpose and that it was 'done'. Definitely not a set back.
Instead, this is a blessing. Christ has carried our faith through this to the very end. For that, I remain thankful.
In my small attempt to 'prepare', Jesse and I pulled open Eli's box. I knew there were things in there I wanted Cambrie to have. It took me several days to get ready to open that box. That box sucks the breath right out of my body each time I open it. And that makes a handful of times its been opened, mainly to put things into it. But Sunday afternoon, we did it.
We opened it up, laid everything out. It was quiet as we looked through 4 years of articles, keepsakes, things I had held on to for Walker one day. Things I had hoped to give to his recipient(s). It was quite a healing experience for us both. It took about 2 hours to go through the box. But ultimately, a small pile was made to go into a special little box we purchased for Cambrie. Maybe this is something she will appreciate about when she gets old enough to know what happened.
Now, Cambrie is the one who was chosen to carry him with her closest to her heart.
Organ and tissue donation is such a gift. Not only was he a gift to us, but he has gone on to be a gift to Cambrie and her loved ones.
This quest certainly has not set me back ANY. Its quite the opposite actually. It has reaffirmed to me that he was fearfully and wonderfully made. He was perfect. And perfect for Cambrie. How blessed we are to be the family who gets to watch her grow into a young adult. We are starting this venture as Cambrie just turned 1 years old. A lifetime of memories awaits our families who have been blessed by 1 little boy. Its an honor to be called Eli's momma.
The work that Cryolife, ARORA (Arkansas Regional Organ Recovery Agency), New England Organ Bank, and Dr. Quinn and his assistant Lori have put into our trip to Maine has been spectacular. A photographer friend who has done volunteer work with our I Can! Arts and Resource Center in Arkansas is also volunteering her time to tag along to Maine to capture the meeting through photography. We have hired a videographer to work with our own Tyler Tarver to create a part II testimony video to our first one (you can see it here: https://vimeo.com/50460733 ). This whole venture will be incredible.
I tear up on the thought of this. Several times a day I tear up when the thought comes across my mind. I'm tearing up now as I type. I don't know what I'm going to be like by next Monday....
Can I also share how amazing people have been? One of my fellow Molly Bears momma's sent me this bracelet she ordered from Etsy to give to Cambrie. And she also donated a 2-night stay at the Marriott for the photographer who is traveling with us. And a dear friend of ours who has been with us from the start of Walker and Eli's pregnancy is offering to assist us in our rental car. We've paid for our plane tickets which was quite a chunk of money but I can't begin to tell you all what this assistance means from the bottom of my heart. I cried long and hard yesterday knowing so many people are actively working to make this perfect. They are dropping their own time, their families, their lives, to make this happen. I hope some day we are able to repay each of you in some way.
To Cambrie: Your box will travel in our laps on the flights to you. It is an honor to give this to your momma for you. My prayer is that you know that you have your very own guardian angel who beats away with you each time you breath in. I hope you know that we thought of you when we took him off of support. We thought of you during his last breath. You have given us peace and we couldn't have asked for more than this. Thank you Gadbois-Cates Family. We love each of you.
2 hours ago