Sandra’s Story: Dear Donor Mom

Mother of an organ donor sharing her story

The death of my only child, DJ, left me broken (hearted) and in dismay. I was empty, angry, and lonely. I suffered depression and experienced a pain that is still indescribable. My brokenness needed healing; I needed to be whole. The minister needed a physician and Dr. Jesus had an opening on his calendar. He always does.

I recall DJ at age 15, arriving home from school and announcing he wanted to be an organ donor. He was a serious young man and thoroughly evaluated his options when making decisions. He defended his position to donate using the teachings of our faith — that when we die our physical bodies return to dust and these organs and tissues will go to waste if they are not left here for those in need of organ transplants. The belief of the resurrection of the body, as a glorious incorruptible body raised to live an eternal life, is a part of the teachings of the Affirmation of Faith taught by the United American Free Will Baptist denomination. I was impressed by his ability to relate his faith to his decision.

I remember the day I spiraled out of control and broke into pieces. I was lying across the bed unable to move or feel anything. I watched the day turn to night, and then day again. It was as if I was watching TV; I saw the birth of DJ, his reading like a first grader at age 4, his love for math, working as a tutor with Dillard Alumni tutoring program. I saw him making animals, angels, and other shapes from paper, origami being one of his hobbies; I watched him build websites and him mastering the trumpet, blessing others with his talent. With each passing scene I thought my baby, my angel, my son, gone from me forever. I thought about the packet I got in the mail from HonorBridge addressing me as Donor Mom. Mom – but I am no longer a mom; who am I? If my husband died I would be a widower, if my parents died I would be an orphan, but now, who am I? In a moment of total darkness, I suffered the most severe agony and identity crisis.

It appeared as if God took my arm and literally helped me off the bed. I picked up the clothes basket near the bed and dumped out the clean neatly folded clothes, found a white towel, covered the basket, and placed a candle on it along with DJ’s bible and my deceased  father’s dictionary. With these items I built an altar according to my theology and faith. It was here that my journey towards wholeness began. The journey lasted months, carrying me into soul-searching valleys and mountain top experiences. I went through rivers of joy, spent endless hours in prayer, and received much love and support from family and friends along the way. A journey that started with, “Dear Donor Mom.”

Who am I? It was, is, and continues to be my relationship with God that defines me. That day on the altar I was reminded when we define or identify ourselves based on our relationship with others, positions on the job, at church, or any other worldly or external self-worth indicator, we are actually limiting ourselves and in essence living outside of who we really are. I am a child of God whose body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. I am God’s workmanship created to produce good works. I am the righteousness of God and because of his love, grace and mercy, I have been made whole. It is because he chose me to be DJ’s mother and experience his death that I can tell his story and hopefully encourage others to carry out the wishes of their loved ones and stand with me as a Donor Mom, proud of my son’s decision to give the gift of life to others.