Before he left for work, my husband, Gary, always told me, “Love you.” But that day, he left before I was awake.
Looking back I wish I had gotten up to kiss him goodbye. But how could I know I’d never get another chance?
For a long time, memories like these tore at my heart. Then five very special people helped me heal.
Gary and I had met sixteen years earlier on a blind date. We fell in love, and five months later, we were married. After our sons, Jerrod and Casey, came along, our happiness was complete. I taught school, and Gary worked as a welder. I loved our life together.
Then just before noon that morning, the phone rang.
“Gary fell from a beam at the construction site,” one of his coworkers said.
“He’s in the ER.”
Don’t let him be badly hurt! I prayed. But at the hospital, a doctor told me that Gary had a severe head injury and needed surgery.
After the surgery, I was allowed to see Gary. “I’m here!” I choked.
He squeezed my hand, and I filled with hope. But by morning, his condition worsened and doctors induced a coma to reduce the swelling in his brain.
I brought the boys to see him. “Daddy’s on a machine to help him breathe, so he can’t talk,” I said. “But you can talk to him.”
Hearing the boys plead, “Please get well!” I couldn’t contain my tears.
Six days after the accident, the doctor told me, “I’m sorry … Gary is brain-dead.”
As grief tore through me, the doctor asked if I’d considered organ donation. Gary and I had never discussed it, but I thought about the kind of man he’d been. Always ready to help, he’d volunteered at church and chopped firewood for neighbors during a snowstorm. I knew what he would want.
Taking Gary’s hand, I wept, “I’ll raise the boys in a way that will make you proud. I’ll miss you.”
That day, Gary gave five people the gift of life.
After the funeral, despair engulfed me. But my sons needed me, so I forced myself to get up in the morning. I went through the motions at work. At home, I hid my tears every time I set the table for three instead of four.
The boys were suffering, too. Jerrod, fifteen, grew quiet, and Casey, eleven, lost his quick smile.
The only tiny solace was the hope that Gary had helped others. But I didn’t know who the recipients were, and I was afraid to find out.
Then, a few months later, I received a letter. “My name is Cindy Davis,” I read. “I’m your husband’s lung recipient. Thank you for giving me life…. I’ll always be grateful.” Oh, Gaiy! I wept. You did something wonderful!
I wrote back telling her I was glad she was feeling better. Then Cindy wrote again, asking about Gary. What was he like?
“Gary was a good father, a generous friend and a loving husband,” I answered. “He loved to make me laugh, but he was romantic, too.”
Soon, we were corresponding, and sharing Cindy’s letters with the boys eased some of our pain.
Still, I cried every day. And on what would have been our fifteenth anniversary, I placed roses on Gary’s grave. Every year, he’d given me a bouquet of roses, but now all I had were memories. “I miss you!” I wept.
I went home, my grief nearly as raw as the day Gary died.
Early that evening, the doorbell rang. It was a delivery of roses. But from whom? Then I read the card: Happy Anniversary from Cindy. “What a wonderful thing to do!” I cried.
Later that same evening the phone rang. “I’m Gary Myers, your husband’s heart recipient,” a man said. He explained that he and Cindy had been in touch, and when she told him what day this was, he thought it was the right time to thank me.
The roses, the phone call, the comforting warmth I suddenly felt—it was as if Gary were behind it all, enveloping me in a hug.
And when Cindy called a few days later and asked if we could meet, I replied, “Yes!”
After a three-hour drive, the boys and I arrived at the courthouse where Cindy worked—and were greeted by a room filled with people and a banner that read, “Welcome Sandy, Jerrod and Casey.”
Touched, I noticed a woman standing nearby. Somehow I just knew. “Cindy!” I cried, falling into her arms. Then a man walked over and said, “I’m Gary Myers. We spoke on the phone.”
Minutes later, another man spoke up. “I’m Lee Morrison,” he explained. “I received Gary’s liver.”
“I can’t believe this!” I exclaimed to Cindy.
The following weekend, Gary Myers and his wife invited us to visit with them.
Gary took the boys fishing, and we got to know his family. And I found myself asking Gary if it would be all right if I listened to his heart … my Gary’s heart.
“Of course,” he nodded.
I filled with warmth as I listened to the steady heartbeat that had filled me with love all the years of my marriage. And when the boys listened, their eyes sparkled.
In the moments of peace that followed, I realized that Gary’s gift had not only saved the recipients’ lives—it was saving ours, too.
That was five years ago, and since then, we’ve met the two men who received Gary’s kidneys. Like the others, they’ve become like family to us.
Today, Jerrod is in the Marines and Casey is a high-school athlete. We remember Gary with smiles instead of tears. Seeing how strong and happy my sons have grown fills me with pride. I know Gary would be proud, too.
I’ll always be grateful for the joy I have in my life—and for the five angels who helped me find it once again.