The Rose Parade and Steel Magnolias
On January 1, 2019, we were preparing to leave for the hospital. We knew it was going to be an especially tough day. The previous day, we had gone through the detailed process of making sure Chandler was able to be an organ/tissue donor so that he could be strong for as many people as possible. That's what he would want.
I didn't even realize the TV was on because the volume was down. I guess we just had it on because that seems like a piece of normal in our house. I reached down to grab something and caught a glimpse of the Rose Parade. The caption at the bottom of the screen announcing the upcoming float read - "Donate for Life." This float featured pictures of people who had been recipients of donors. My eyes filled with tears, and I said to Charli and Aunt Val, "That's what I needed to see."
Around 4:30 New Year's Day, my baby boy took his last breath. At the risk of sounding like a scene from Steel Magnolias, it was the greatest privilege of my life being there when Chandler breathed his first breath and holding his hand when he breathed his last.
The pain is unbearable at times, and my heart feels crushed beneath the weight. Tears are close to the surface and erupt at predictable and unpredictable times. I am leaning into the truth I hold so closely -- that Chandler is freer and even more fully alive now than ever (II Corinthians 5:8). He has met his Grandma Ruth, my mom, who died long before Chandler was born. He has been reunited with Grandma Trinnie who was crazy about him. He has met Great Grandpa Reggie and Grandpa Jeepo, both of whom died before Chandler came along. He is reunited with Grandpa Bill, my daddy, with whom Chandler shared a similar unbounded spirit. There are so many who have welcomed him to a better place. Knowing Chandler, he has found the BMX park, and they are all gathered around cheering him on.
He will live on in our hearts, in our Chandler stories, and in the lives of those who will benefit from his donations. He will be strong for them.