"My precious child, I love you and will never leave you... never, ever, during your trials and testings. When you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you."
I have always loved "Footprints in the Sand." It was something that was always hanging somewhere in our home growing up and I could probably recite it by heart. (But please don't test me.) The poem took on a deeper meaning for me after Gavin died. In 2010, I lost Darcy. In 2011, I lost my Father. Then in 2013 I inexplicably lost Gavin - my firstborn - my entire world. You better believe I had some words with God along the lines of WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN??? Who could blame me? But in my heart I know that He was carrying me. Carrying ALL of us... all along.
We weren't quite finished celebrating the day we welcomed Gavin into the world nine years ago. It has become our tradition to serve as "Home Cook Heroes" at the Gift of Life Family House as a way to honor Gavin's life - and his gift of organ donation when he died. The guests of the Family House are either organ transplant patients from all over the world who are getting treatment at a nearby hospital... or they are families and caregivers of patients who are inpatient at a local hospital.
Thanks to our dear friend, Claire Guarino, who helped us prepare a delicious dinner for close to fifty guests. Claire is the owner of a local business in Paoli, PA called (ironically) "Home Cooked." We hit it off when I walked in as a customer looking for a ready-made, home cooked meal to pop in the oven and look like a rock star chef by dinner time. We've been friends ever since. Each year, Claire graciously provides the meal that we then help prepare and serve to the guests.
This year, we brought a big birthday cake for Gavin.
Everyone gets involved in the prep!
Well, except Hope who basically just wanted to eat or lick everything so we kept her occupied elsewhere!
Claire's son, Ian, (who knows his way around a kitchen better than me!) is good buddies with Brian so they were excited to see each other. The kids had a great time.
Each year I look forward to this event. I love the opportunity to serve the people at Gift of Life - whether they are transplant patients, caregivers or the staff. We have been touched by all. Each year I manage to have at least one emotional conversation with a transplant patient or family member. I am always honored to share Gavin's story and assure them - really try to assure them - that donating his organs brought me great comfort. I can imagine how hard it might be to understand that - especially if you've received or are waiting for a transplant and know that to live, someone must die. But there had to be something good that came from our tragedy.
It was a successful evening - and a delicious meal...
...and a fitting tribute to our little superhero.
He was our greatest gift of life.