• kari alejandre


Day 17 -

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow”

-Audrey Hepburn

My husband was visiting me in the hospital one Friday afternoon. While we loved our time together, coming up to the hospital, parking, walking all the way to the heart hospital, and up, up, up to the 9th floor, after having worked in the heat all day in a factory, and before going to pick up the kids at a loved one’s home and feeding them and giving them the extra tlc they needed while I was away, well, it was drudgery. I ached to be with the kids, the pups, to be home. The visits were still a bit of a disconnect. I cried every time they left. And then I walked around the floor a few laps. 

I was trying to get strong for surgery (and still recovering from bypass), as much as I could, without risking my health, since I was at high risk for another clot and heart attack. It was a little scary. Wondering if I would have another ‘almost” before I got the call. Thankfully, I was surrounded by the most skilled and gifted staff possible. If you’re gonna have a heart attack, that’s where you want to do it. 

So that Friday evening, as I walked my husband to the exit of the floor, and did my couple weary laps, it seemed like any other evening in this new normal. Except it wasn’t. Somewhere, somehow, someone was about to die. There is no delicate way to say it. I mean, it happens every day. It happened to me a couple of times, kinda. But this someone, roughly within a few hours of our area, was going to breathe their last breath, and their wishes to donate their organs would be granted, and I would be one of those grateful recipients. And shortly after I settled back into my room, one of the transplant coordinators, Joey, and one of my awesome transplant cardiologists, Dr. Sauer, came strolling into my room.

I was quite accustomed to visits throughout the day, but a Friday evening visit from this two only meant one thing. Instantly when I saw them, I heard the heart monitor start alarming behind me. It actually made me laugh hearing that. I got a printout from that moment, and my  heart rate had gone up to 150. And yes, it was the news we were all waiting for. A heart, a perfectly lovely, healthy heart, was ready to make its home in me. 

I got hugs and all of my nurse friends started piling in. I got myself together and called Adolfo. He didn’t answer. For once. I called Bella and had her go get him. He was mowing the lawn. He knew with all that effort what the call was about. He got the kids and himself cleaned up and then came up. I called my parents and then let my 3 brothers and spouses know. I did a facebook live when my fam arrived. My littlest darling shared “my mommy is getting a new heart”. It was time. 

Thankfully we had a few hours together. The surgery would actually be the next morning. My parents and one of my nieces came up. The darling little one who made me and aunt 20 years before, was braiding my hair so I could head into surgery with a cute noggin. Funny, about the noggin, a week before, my sweet friend Nancy came up and gave Bella and I some major hair attention, including a super-cool undercut with a heart shaved in. We loved it. 

So it was pretty late that Friday night. The part I had been dreading most, yes, even more than the surgery and recovery itself. So hard that I am crying as I type this. I had to say “goodnight” to my children. How do I say goodnight without it being too heavy. Like it was the last time they would ever hear it. Because that was a huge possibility. I gave them all the hugs and kisses I possibly could, and all of the “I love you’s” I had in me. I took in their smells, their beauty, and the feel of their curls in my fingers, and waived good-bye as they went home. When would I see them again? WOULD I see them again? What condition would I be in?

That night when all was settled, when I had my last little bite of food, had my antibacterial showers, Adolfo and I snuggled up into the hospital bed and just sat there for a bit. Everything had slowed down and here we were. Just hours away from surgery. We didn’t talk about the what-ifs, we talked positively about getting this new chance at life. Another one. About how the puppies would react when they saw me. About our guinea pigs “wheaking” when they heard my voice. About how he had taken pretty decent care of our plants, but it was evident that they missed me, too. And about the garden I would grow when I got home. Because somewhere deep inside, I genuinely felt, that if I planned and yearned to keep going and keep growing, myself, and other beautiful things, I would be given the chance. 

I longed to have that chance. To nurture my children. To spend time working hard on me, so everyone I would meet would get the best version of myself. To be an awesome partner to a man I love with more hearts than I’ve ever had, who deserves a medal and a gazillion bucks for his loyalty and heart work. I wanted to do everything whole-heartedly. I planned to make everything around me more beautiful. The best work, in my opinion. I was going to make sure this new heart got the best second life and make my donor proud. Even though I was going to have to say goodbye to Keely’s heart in a way, I had to be ready to move. Time to grow. Time to bloom. 

82 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Day 26