Heart Transplant and Loss

Well, I have a post entitled, ‘Hibernation: Kidding, Kind of’, almost ready to publish; however, this week has not resembled what it looked like on my calendar. In fact, the only thing that remained on the calendar this week was my husband traveling to NYC on business; everything else, and I do mean everything, became a deleted event with the exception of carpool as I came down with a head cold and was told to lay low and rest.

Loss is very much a part of the heart transplant community, and the losses are not the minor, oh well kind of losses. No, the losses dive deep into our heart-souls, especially when it’s the death of a member of our inner circle of mended hearts; hearts that are conjoined and bound by our unique, yet shared life experience.

I have quite a “squad” at this point in various parts of the United States and around the world. This community, however, is not exclusively cancer survivors; it includes those who have suffered profound cardiac injury for a variety of reasons whether an acute myocardial infarction, viral endocarditis, or age-related heart failure.

Each individual is a treasure that I carry in my heart: this day, every day.

A cursory look at Facebook Monday morning brought news that a member of our ‘squad’ had died Sunday evening. Facebook isn’t the way I prefer to learn of the deaths of those who have impacted my life, but quite candidly, it’s how Marty, his wife, and I kept in touch.

I dropped my head, and my countenance fell as the atmosphere of the day changed in an instant. I met this particular friend and his wife years ago well after both of our transplants. We met at a deli across the street from the Clinic. We were both there for routine follow up visits, and if there is one truth about transplant, it is that it’s impossible not to get to know fellow travelers as we all run the same circuit the moment we enter the building: urine and labs followed by a trip to the cath lab for heart biopsy then a visit with your transplant cardiologist.

These friendships are cultivated in waiting rooms as we visit with family members updating and sharing what’s been happening in each of our lives until it’s our turn, then we meet up in recovery for about 6 hours. I’m talking genuine friendships, genuine concern for one another’s health and wellness. We encourage one another. We are hope to one another. We are kindred even though we only see each other once a year and keep up to date via Facebook in between visits. We communicate via texts or the comment section. When we see each other, we pick up where we left off rarely missing a beat.

Marty was a kind, compassionate, joyful, and loving man. He also carried somewhat of a distinction with regard to our family. He knew our son (ABZ) as Marty and Cynni (his beloved bride) bred, nurtured, and delivered to us our sweet pup, Popper. Oh the joy, Marty brought to ABZ’s heart when he handed Popper into arms wide open in the parking lot of a Cracker Barrell the summer of 2011.

Monday was a dreary day here in Atlanta with rain falling as memories, moments came to mind. I wasn’t expecting news that a friend had died, but then again, it’s impossible to expect the unexpected. We, including myself, tend to walk through each day expecting to live. If we did otherwise, we wouldn’t truly be living.

Monday, we lost one of our own a mere 12 years post-transplant. For those of us who knew Marty, we are deeply saddened by his death, yet transformed by his life.






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