Her Daughter Got My Daughter’s Heart — a Tale of Two Mothers

Amera two weeks after her transplant.

This week I did a podcast episode that is particularly personal  for me. In it, I have the privilege of interviewing the mother of Amera, the young woman who received my daughter Teal’s heart and kidney after her death.

As one mother to another, Debi and I certainly connect out of simple empathy for the path of motherhood. And we are both happen to be people who love to laugh, and enjoy a good chat. In fact, we genuinely like each other!

But we are also people who started out as total strangers, only to become inextricably linked on August 24, 2012. On that fateful day, Amera, Debi’s daughter, received Teal’s heart and kidney after 20 hours of surgery. Debi’s description of how beautiful Amera looked after the first phase of surgery, when she received her new heart, is breathtaking. For all around Amera, there was a shimmering, sparkling glow.

I say it’s the same glow I’d felt only a week earlier as I connected with Teal’s sparkling, shimmery essence in the afterlife for the first time. It was as effervescent and light as a cloud of champagne bubbles. And yes, just as Debi describes in the podcast, it was, indeed, glowing.

So we have become connected through destiny, karma, or whatever you wish to call it.

We are mothers who know what it’s like to sit by the side of your daughter’s bed, fearing her imminent death. And we are mothers who learned such decisions are not up to us, and so we both had to learn when to fight … and when to surrender.

Today, we are mothers whose DNA is shared in the body of one extraordinary young woman. And we are definitely better for this shared connection, as we both watch Amera thrive in the Cardiac Sonography program she is taking at … yes … the very same college Teal was about to start when she collapsed.

My path with Debi has been a really interesting one, because we didn’t even know each other until about three months ago. It was not until five years after Teal’s death that we all finally felt like we could meet. So we met at Ocean Beach, the very place where we scattered Teal’s ashes – which was Amera’s idea.

That night was an experience I’ll never forget. Of course, there were tears. But there was also a recognition of something so much bigger at work here. Especially when I played a video for them of Teal singing ‘A Change is Gonna Come’. “I feel like I know her,” Amera said simply after she watched the video. There was a basic, beyond-logic recognition for all of us of the God-sent nature of our connection.

Perhaps this is just a very vivid illustration of the connection we all share — the oneness we know about and yet, somehow, seldom glimpsed.

Amara is a thoughtful and highly sensitive young woman with an amazing life ahead of her.  That much I’m sure of. And as for me and Debi … well, we’ve both been through the ringer, but we agree that we have emerged better for it. Our experiences have been remarkably similar, as this episode will tell you if you choose to listen.

If you do, you’ll hear how Amera made her way with congestive heart failure for more than seven years, until it got to the point where she had to wear a wearable defibrillator vest — to shock her back to life in case she suddenly collapsed.

You’ll also hear what it was like for Debi knowing her daughter’s death was always in the shadows … until her life was finally saved because of my own daughter’s death.

It’s a conversation filled with hardship, hope, light and a lot of love.

I recommend you listen to this when you have a moment, and really get into the idea that we are all truly interconnected. Every last one of us. Even those of us who do not know each other at all. It’s a pretty wild concept when you think about it, and organ donation makes that truth extraordinarily clear.

Enjoy. Listen to the podcast here.

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