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Love Never Dies

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There are many days I’ve lived that I can honestly state have changed the direction of my life. This day though, the 24th of November, is the one that continues to have the greatest impact.

While other significant dates and memories still flitter through my mind, this is the one that brings along the brass band and dancing troupes and fireworks, so it cannot be ignored.

This is the day I held my son in my arms as the doctor withdrew his life support, and I felt him leave me. There was no miracle for my miracle baby. Everything just stopped, and he left me.

Earlier that day, we’d had a family meeting with his doctors to discuss organ donation — that was definitely something Harry would have wanted. He had the “tick” on his driver’s license, and his community service would have made it an imperative. I was wholeheartedly in agreement; I couldn’t fathom burying my miracle baby, who was so fit and healthy, without that parting gift.

It was not to be though; doctors could not categorically state he was brain dead. Option B wasn’t really given much of a go — it was a Sunday night in Christchurch, and gathering the transplant team from Auckland on the off-chance Harry died within a 60 minute window didn’t happen.

And so I buried my son, with all of his organs.

Recently, I read the brain is not the only organ we have that can store memories; apparently memory can also be stored in the heart. While I don’t believe his heart would have overwhelmed its new recipient with Harry’s memories, just the thought that the essence of Harry’s heart could have continued and made someone else’s life better, makes me very sad today.

Sitting at the cemetery, on the day that he died four years ago, is an obvious place to feel consumed by the sad. Today is a little different, though. Before I came here, I had to see the lawyer to re-sign the affidavits required for Harry’s life insurance to be paid out. By a weird twist in fate, the day for re-signing had to be today.

That means the “traumatic” part of my day is already over, and while I’m sitting here crying, as I lean on Harry’s headstone and type my words, I’m actually OK. It is really beautiful out here, surrounded by trees and birdsong.

So maybe the brass band and the dancing troupe and the fireworks that herald in the 24th of November can be replaced going forward by the cheerful chirping of birds and the gentle rustle of the wind in the trees? Maybe this day doesn’t have to be all bells and whistles and pain, smooshed up together?

My heart is as robust as Harry’s was, as it fought to keep his dying body alive. My heart beats with wonderful memories as well. It has survived numerous breaks over my 51 years, and each time, that slow, steady beat continues to flush my body with blood, and remind me that love never dies.

That even though my son’s body is buried deep in the ground underneath me, I am still his Mother, he will always be my beloved boy, and my heart contains so much love, because Harry lived. Thank you for reminding me again, sunshine boy, that love never dies.

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Originally published: November 29, 2017
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