There Are No Coincidences in Life
My mom and I were talking tonight and she mentioned this quote from Oprah and I thought it was a fitting title for this post.
Okay, so I am sticking with the timing theme here. This may be the most crazy timing story you have ever heard in your whole life. And it is nine years in the making. Stick with me here. It is a little long, but totally worth it.
I am not sure if you guys know this, but my father-in-law Vic is a heart transplant recipient. Which, truly, in and of itself is a miracle and I could probably end the story here. But then that wouldn’t be much of a story.
What you may not know is that as a transplant recipient you are never told the name of the donor. Through the newspaper my inlaws were able to figure out who the heart came from and wrote a letter to widow of the donor, but never, understandably, heard back.
As an aside, they later did find out that the widow of the donor (for purposes of this story we will call him Andy Smith – not his real name) had remarried, of all people, their next door neighbor’s former brother-in-law. Crazy, small world.
But back to this story. Several years ago Vic was working as a volunteer at a transplant event. He was working next to a woman, Melanie, and got to talking to her about her connection to organ donation and she said she was a kidney transplant recipient. He shared that he was a heart transplant recipient and asked when she got her transplant and she said 2001. And he said he also had his in 2001. Then he asked which month, she said August. He too had gotten his in August. Then he asked which day and she said the date that he had received his heart. They knew that they had both had the same organ donor.
Vic and Melanie have kept in touch over the years and talk from time to time.
Well, fast forward to this past Fall. For some reason my mother-in-law picked up the Sports section of the Tulsa World. Trust me, this is a section she would NEVER have an interest in, but she said for some reason she just picked it up and started reading the first article. (This would be the equivalent to me reading the Sports page.)
The article was about a student who was rededicating his life and focus on sports to God because of the hardships that he had overcome. It mentioned an uncle that had passed away in 2001, an accident he had been in himself and that his own dad had been killed in an accident last year. The article was about the nephew of Andy Smith, the organ donor.
Immediately, Vic and Marianne call Melanie to ask her if she saw the photo and write-up in the paper. She said that she had seen the article and had actually just emailed it to them a few minutes before.
20 minutes later the phone rings and Melanie is on the phone. She told my inlaws that they were never going to believe this, but she has a friend who is a pastor at the hospital and he had just gone to a room to see a patient who wasn’t doing well. The wife of the patient was talking to the pastor and proudly said, “Did you see my grandson on the front page of the Sports section this morning?” The pastor, having talked to Melanie that morning, knew that the boy on the front page of the sports section was the nephew of their organ donor. This was the mother of Andy Smith. They mother of Vic and Melanie’s organ donor.
The pastor told the woman that he was familiar with her family through his friend Melanie because she had received her son’s kidneys. She immediately asked if Vic and Melanie would be interested in meeting her. The pastor arranged for them to meet her that very day at the hospital. She told Vic that her son had not only given him a good heart physically, but also a great emotional heart.
She also loved meeting them so much she asked if they would be interested in meeting her two daughters that were living in California. They flew in two weeks later to meet Vic and Melanie.
If there ever was a story of God’s timing and putting the pieces together to all make sense, I cannot think of one better than this one. Each piece had to fit in a puzzle and it wasn’t something that would have been the same if it had happened one year after the transplant, or even five years. Or if they had planned this themselves.
This mother needed healing that only time could bring before being able to recognize the gift that her son gave to so many people. All of his organs were harvested and given to others. And without that gift, think of the nine lives that would have much different chapters and stories than they do now.