Trust Babe, I tell myself whenever anxiety surrounds me. And with the whole world on pause together in this moment and anxiety running rampant, I can’t help but feel like this is a repeat, one year later, of my breathless wait for a heart.
I partnered with Babe in June 2019.
We’ve never met in person. She is a complete mystery. But she has been my rock-solid foundation for the full year we have been partners.
I first heard about Babe’s heart in the wee hours of the morning after Father’s Day. I was handed a phone and a distant voice simply said the words that changed my world forever:
“I am calling to offer you a heart. It is a good heart. Do you want to accept it?”
I did. I christened her ‘Babe’ in the hours post-surgery while my mind was coming off some heavy sedation. And she has filled my life with new beginnings. New adventures. New possibilities.
You see, in the fall of 2017, I suffered a horrific heart arrhythmia event that kicked me into a cardiac intensive care unit for a week and changed the quality of my life drastically. My normal world came to a screeching halt. My body would no longer sustain the activities that I loved: hiking, biking, fishing, running, canoeing, and so much more. Let me just say the 18 months following the failed heart were not always grand.
But do not get me wrong — I have always felt extremely blessed by all I have done, by everything I have experienced, by the things I have gathered, and by the life I have lived. Wonderful friends, fabulous family, and dear loved ones surrounded me always. And without those supporting lifelines, I could not have gotten through the past few years.
But Babe is different. She brought me back to life. Literally.
Life in those 18 months before Babe is now a distant memory filled with magical moments and hard times. But with Babe came brighter colors, clearer thoughts, deeper breaths. True moments of life like I had not experienced in many years.
I have heard that a vessel must first be emptied before it can be refilled. In my case, that is one hundred percent correct. My world had to completely bottom out before I was ready to accept the unbelievable gift that is Babe. She proved to be an act of pure love by a perfect stranger.
In truth, I know nothing about Babe. Personal information about a donor is kept private and completely anonymous. Race, religion, politics, sexual orientation are all equal in the world of organ donations. The only thing I do know is that Babe was once someone’s baby, friend and family member. She is now an angel. I am now responsible for the care of someone else’s child that lives inside me. I will shepherd Babe forever and ever. We are partners for life.
Over the past twelve months, we have hiked up Tom’s Thumb in Scottsdale, participated in the 25-mile Velocity bike ride in NYC, canoed the Delaware River, hosted my kid’s 30th birthday celebration, walked the length of Coney Island, and joined a family reunion in Pennsylvania together. We have fished Shohola Falls, watched spring arrive in the Catskills, planted window boxes with my wife, and trod every block of the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Central Park, and Riverside, too.
In short, Babe has let me return to a full life of activities that we do as one.
She gave me this. But besides rebooting my life, she has taught me to live better, to be a better person. I will remain forever humbled and grateful for the care I received during this journey. Care from doctors, nurses, staff, orderlies, fellow patients, and those folks still waiting on the transplant list. I especially honor and cherish the angels who have donated organs to ease the suffering of those in need. Thank you.
We each have our individual adventures. Same as we each have our personal lives and loves and trials and heartbreaks. It is our singular life to live. But with a partner like Babe, I am more than myself. I am we.
Trust Babe, I think with each strong heartbeat. Especially in times of uncertainty. Whenever there is doubt.