The conference today was titled "The Effect of One", it was put on by our organ donation organization in the area. I go every year because it is a decent conference, it's cheap, and they provide a fabulous breakfast and lunch! (It's the little things in the life of a social worker).
This morning, I didn't have any unusually high hopes. I paid for my CEU's, grabbed some yummy free breakfast and claimed my spot to kick back for the day.
This conference was different than previous years. This year they had donation recipients share their stories. Heart-warming? Absolutely. Anything extraordinarily earth shattering? Not really. Until one speaker shared his story...his life journey as he learned of his need for a heart valve transplant to save his life.
There was something about him, his words; the way he spoke his words; his life; the way he lived his life....he was awe inspiring. While I always have Sofie somewhere on my mind....for some reason she was right on the surface of my heart as he continued to speak.
Our stories are so different, yet the underlying message seems so similar. There is a message of uncertainty, hope, love, and faith. There is a life lesson of not only learning how to see things differently; but actually becoming a different person in light of our experience.
When he finished speaking my friend leaned over to me and said that she couldn't stop thinking of Sofie as he spoke.
I was so thankful to have my own thoughts and feelings of Sof validated in that moment.
I was able to talk with the speaker briefly after he finished. I was nervous and could actually see my own face shaking as I spoke. I didn't share very much for fear of becoming too emotional in the moment but did get his contact information and will definitely be in touch with him. I'm not sure why our paths crossed today, but I can't deny that there was meaning behind it. The intensity was palpable and I'm glad I wasn't the only one who could feel it.
He ended his story describing a cross country bike tour that he completed to inspire hope, he was the first heart valve recipient from the Cleveland Clinic to ever bike coast to coast. He began that journey in Oregon and finished in New Hampshire. He shared how when he got towards the end of that journey, he could see blue. A different blue than he had seen along his journey. His perspective had changed. The blue that he saw now, was the water on the coast, signifying the end of a long and challenging journey.
I couldn't help but think of how different everything now looks through my own eyes since Sofie's birth and essentially her death; how my perspective on everything is so unbelievably different. I understand completely what it is like to leave the self that you once knew behind in a moment's notice, and be thrown into a whole new self that you haven't even had the chance to get to know.
I know I'm still figuring out who I am in this new life; as Sofie's mom; as the mother to an angel. I know it will be a long and challenging journey ahead. I know that there will be days where the beauty of it all will take my breath away, and then there will be days that I will need to pause along the side of the road to simply catch my breath and days still where I will have to remind myself to keep breathing at all. I hope there will be days (and I do believe that they will come) when I will see color in the world again. And I know that along my life's journey, however long it will be, that I will yearn for the day when I will look up and see the beautiful color (whatever it may be) of the Glorious Light that will signify the end of my own journey and lead me once again to my sweet, sweet, baby girl.
If this kind man can take his experience and ride his bike across our nation, 3,500 miles; with a heart that had been "broken", simply to inspire hope; then I too can continue my journey with my own healing heart.
Sofie, I love you, baby girl. I always expected that as your mama I would be teaching you lessons of life. Sure they'd start out small..."look both ways before you cross a street", "be kind to others", I'd teach you how to tie your shoes, how to bake cookies and how to properly decorate a cupcake, we'd teach you to be a good student (though I'd have saved the math lessons for your daddy), we'd teach you to respect those around you while ensuring that you understood that you also deserved to be treated with respect as well, we'd teach you to value the important things in life...the things that really matter. I don't know how we'd teach those and so many other things to you, and I can guarantee that we'd have made mistakes along the way, but we sure would have tried. I never could have imagined that instead, you would be the one who continues to teach me. You Sof, have taught so many of us that the effect of one can be powerful; that the effect of one can be immeasurable; that the effect of one can be life changing. Through my love for you, today; the effect of one man brought me hope.
Little did the conference organizers know that they had a special key note speaker today; inspiring hope without saying a word. I love you, sweet pea, to the moon and back, always and forever. ♥ The effect of one sweet baby girl continues....