Yes, it’s Saturday and should be Sibling Saturday. I just can’t go there today. Maybe we’ll do Sibling Sunday. I just can’t get into how my kids have grieved and are grieving when we’ve had such a wonderful couple of days. This weekend has been our deep breath, this Friday night and Saturday were exactly what we needed, exactly when we needed it.
On Friday, we were invited to join the rest of our organ donation family for Iowa Donor Network’s volunteer appreciation night at the races. In all honesty, Friday during the day hadn’t been the best. There had been fighting, short tempers, tears, and a general air of naughty had settled over our house and, as always these days, was only complicated by grief. Yet, we battled through and made it to the race track as the cars started to take practice laps. Food was had, friendship abounded, and many great things happened. Even the weather was absolutely perfect! We were honored with a volunteer recognition award, everyone had a chance to ride in the pace car, the herd got to meet NASCAR driver Joey Gase, and E won the raffle for the IDN go-kart! Many laughs were shared, great support and conversation were had at every turn. Empathy has wonderful, healing, peace inducing power. This was the start of our deep breath.
We may have gotten home at midnight, but that didn’t stop us from being on the parade route at 9AM for our local community celebration. A, E, and L2 were all in the parade and over the moon excited. The boys, Brig, and I all found a spot at the end of the parade route under a big shade tree. Perfect! As we sat…and sat…and waited for the parade to reach us, I began to verbally kick myself. “Why didn’t I grab bracelets and donation fliers to pass out along the parade route?!”. The second I said this outloud, Brig hopped up, declared his willingness to run home, and ran the mile back to where the van was parked. He may have missed the Marine band and clydesdales at the start of the parade, but he brought the goods. Roughly 45 minutes later, I shouted donation info up and down the route, passed out a few hundred bracelets, answered questions, and led rally cheers for those who raised their hands to make it known that they were registered donors. We even started a couple of hashtags to boost registration in our area!
From there, we headed over to the main bandstand area and enjoyed the festivities and all manner of yummy, artery clogging foods. As I noticed the announcements that were being made between bands, I decided to chat with the MC. This first happened a bit after lunch and the crowd was thinning a bit, the lull between the end of the parade and the start of evening performers and fun. I briefly shared our connection to donation and asked the MC if he’d make an announcement reminding people to register to be a donor. We exchanged kind words, I gave him my Donate Life pin and the bracelet I was wearing (my last one) and he happily made the announcement! Yay!!
We then continued to enjoy the community and good spirit of the day. Then, the MCs changed, the crowd started to become more dense, and I really wanted to see if we could get a bit more mic time for donation. So, off to introduce myself to the new MCs! Teri Lynn and Vicki were amazingly wonderful. We had a lengthy chat about Caleb, donation, stats, and the path we’re trying to take. They invited me to the stage just before the headline for the night, the Marine Band out of Parris Island, SC, for an interview and to encourage people to register. With over 2,000 people in the crowd, I was thrilled to share the message. Teri Lynn, a DJ for my favorite local radio station, even shared her business card with me and would like to chat more! Caleb keeps doing so much good through his life and death. His legacy continues to live on in such a positive way and we couldn’t be more happy. Thanks Iowa for being so wonderful and helping us take a deep breath just when we were starting to feel a bit winded on this grief journey!