On December 29, 1999, my husband, Miller, received a heart transplant. It was a momentous occasion for our family, which came after a year of hospital visits, intensive care stays and ultimately the long wait for a heart. Miller would endure the wait 500 miles from our home in North Carolina, at the famous Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. I would spend my time during those six months, trying to maintain his business, while trying to keep my freelance writing career going and our two teenagers from going off in all directions.
The Decision to Write a Book
After Miller received his new heart, I spent the next year writing a memoir of my experience, since at the time there was not a book on the organ transplant experience from the point-of-view of a family member. I didn’t publish the book until two years later, when an editor told me she thought the book might not make a lot of money but it had the capability of helping a lot of people.
10 Years After
This year marks the 10th year anniversary of my book and in that time I have gotten many notes, letters and even messages through Facebook about how my book has helped others going through the same or similar situations. There have been teens who have converted the book into a play for their drama class and there have been wives who have “friended” me on Facebook to tell me of their loved ones’ transplant stories. I have probably given away more books than I have sold, although I continue to get quarterly royalty checks all these years later.
It’s Not About the Money – It’s About the Message
I never wrote the book to make money. It was always about the message. which is that you never know when life is going to throw you that infamous “curve ball,” and that we all have the inner strength to get through those times, if we not only look inward but allow others in as well. My father used to say that every situation in life is a chance to learn something and I have found this to be true. The lessons I learned during that difficult time have helped me get through more tough times that were to come.
A Message of Hope
Today, Miller is in the 14th year with his new heart. For those who are going through the excruciating wait for an organ transplant, please know that it does happen, miracles do happen. The most important thing is to never give up hope. If you know someone who’s facing the terminal illness of a loved one, or who needs to know there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, please have them take a look at my little book, whether they can borrow it from the library, find it in a book store or thrift shop or order it online (it’s now available on Kindle and Nook). I think they’ll find a glimmer of hope in the pages somewhere.
(And, you thought I only painted furniture!)