There are two types of reality; the seen or ordinary reality and the unseen or non-ordinary reality. When we cross over, we move from the seen to unseen. One reality is no less real than the other; however, most folks choose only to recognize what they can directly experience through their senses.
Due to injuries sustained in a single vehicle accident on January 23, 2011, my 27-year-old son, Adam, moved from the seen to the unseen. Adam’s lungs and liver saved the lives of two individuals in need of lifesaving transplants. Adam’s pancreas and kidneys greatly improved the lives of three others.
While Adam’s body was still on life support, he began showing me that he is still here. I’d just snipped off a handful of his dark brown locks, when I heard his voice, clear as day.
“Mom, what the fuck did you do to my hair?”
Except from our book Adam’s Gift — Coming Soon!
There were many such moments that lightened the mood in Adam’s room in the CCU. Adam would have it no other way. From the time I learned of the accident to the present, Adam has remained in touch with me. His chi or life force energy, is but a thought away. Without chi, we are just a body; like an abandoned car, without a driver.
Adam was declared “brain dead” on Monday, January 24, 2011. On Wednesday, January 26th, the weather still hadn’t cleared and things were becoming critical for a patient at Cedar Sinai in Los Angeles in desperate need of Adam’s heart. The transplant team called a meeting and asked my permission to transport Adam’s body to Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto, where the weather was clear and the planes could land. I agreed. Greg and I would follow the ambulance.
Minutes later, the transplant coordinator said they’d just gotten a call from Cedar Sinai and they had been cleared to land in Stockton. “This is really going to happen,” I thought. Adam will be donating organs that were once inside of me.
I learned that I was pregnant with Adam so soon after his conception that my mom didn’t believe I was pregnant. How could I possibly know that soon? Adam was conceived on the 4th of July, which accounts for the firecracker energy he emitted in unexpected bursts. Think of it as Adam’s trademark. His stage name was “Atomatic.” I knew Adam was onboard by July 23rd, the day before my 25th birthday, and I’ve been talking to him ever since.
One of the nurses asked whether I was prepared for what’s next. I told her that I thought Adam was exactly where he wanted to be and that he was no longer in the body that once was Adam. Then, I resolved to see whether that could be confirmed. My sister, Vicki, had a Facebook friend who is a psychic. Vicki had begun sending me text messages as soon as she heard about Adam’s accident. She pulled some oracle cards and encouraged me to give Adam permission to go to the light. The first message arrived late Sunday morning, before any further testing had been done. I told Vicki to stick the light where the sun doesn’t shine.
By the time we were preparing to harvest Adam’s organs, it had become clear that Adam had already gone to the light. I texted Vicki and requested that she ask her Facebook friend psychic, if Adam had a message for me. “What’s your question?” she asked.
“If she’s a psychic, she doesn’t need to know the question. Just ask her if Adam has a message for me,” I reasoned. Vicki agreed to contact her friend.
I stood at my usual post at the head of Adam’s bed. A Johnny- Come-Lately Guardian Angel with one last job to complete. “Adam,” I whispered, “I will do whatever is necessary to deliver you safely into the arms of the Angels.” I could not allow my emotions to overwhelm me. There was too much at stake. One errant tear and I could be kicked off the most important team I’d ever been part of; the team who would deliver Adam’s final goal over the finish line.
One at a time, the transplant team assembled around Adam’s bed. I’d had a conversation with Michael, the nurse in charge of Adam’s team, about the recipients of people’s organs acquiring something of their donor. Michael, a tall, handsome man in his early thirties with clear green eyes and curly dark hair, said he’d heard the same thing. I shared with Michael some of Adam’s post-mortem antics including the story about his Aunt Rhonda’s dog. Michael gave me a hug and whispered, “I think Adam is going to be talking to a lot of people.”
I closed my eyes and vowed to Adam that I would not cry. Wearing the shiny gold designer coat Adam had talked me into buying, I took my position at the head of Adam’s bed in the Critical Care Unit. The glass doors that had served as the walls of Adam’s hospital room, began rolling back to make way for his bed. All eyes were on me. Praying that the patient at Ce- dar Sinai would hold on for just a little while longer, the instant the wheel lock was released, I began pushing, just as I’d done almost twenty-eight years earlier.
Following my lead, the transplant team escorted Adam through the CCU, where a few days earlier his loved ones had gathered to say good-bye. As soon as we arrived at the entrance of the Surgical Unit, I felt my cell phone vibrate in my pocket, indicating that I had received a text. Again, all eyes were on me. It was time for me to say good-bye. I think the transplant team expected this Mother-Made-of-Granite to finally begin to crumble.
Adam was born on 3/30/83 at 3:25 am. It was 3:25 pm when the final set of double doors began to open. I reached for Greg’s hand and together we pushed the foot of Adam’s bed across the threshold. As I continued pushing his bed down the brightly lit hallway, a single left turn to eternity lay ahead. I gave my son a last kiss on the forehead and looked up to see Greg and every single member of the transplant team wiping away tears. I gave Michael one last hug and left my son in the Arms of the Angels.
Greg and I were on the way to my mother’s house when my pocket buzzed again. I had forgotten about the text I’d received at the hospital. It was from my sister, Vicki. the text said, “I would never trade places,” along with the caveat that the message doesn’t make any sense to her.
I called Vicki and told her that my question had been, “Adam, are you where you want to be?” Her friend’s message had been exactly the right answer. I told Vicki it made incredible sense to me.
“Glad to hear it. Can I take the light out of my ass now?”
The three of us laughed until we cried. Adam would have wanted it that way. I didn’t fight Adam’s death. I hadn’t pleaded with God to spare him. I had not begged Adam to stay. I knew with every fiber of my being that Adam was where he wanted to be.
“I would never trade places.”
When I pushed Adam’s hospital bed through those double doors of no return, it was with full knowledge that I would never see my son again. I found comfort in the knowledge that my loss would bring great joy to the families of others who were anxiously awaiting the arrival of Adam’s organs to save the lives of their loved ones.
Adam’s official date of death is the day his organs were harvested, January 26, 2011, the only day of the year we have two birthdays in our family on the same day. My niece, Lauren Thomas, had been born on my step-dad, Jim Ellis’s birthday. As Grandpa Jim blew out his birthday candles, the phone rang. It was Michael calling to let me know that all had gone well with the harvesting of Adam’s organs. I sensed something unspoken in his voice.
“How did it go with the patient at Cedar Sinai?” I asked. “Not so well,” Michael explained that the potential recipient of Adam’s heart had been determined no longer eligible to receive the transplant. With compassion worthy of the Archangel, Michael said softly, “Adam’s heart remained with him.”
Adam’s lungs, kidneys, pancreas, and liver have greatly improved or saved the lives of five recipients. I only know what the California Transplant Network was able to share. Adam’s lungs went to a 72-year-old man from Arizona. Thinking back to my conversation with Michael about recipients acquiring characteristics of the donor, I wonder if the Arizona septuagenarian ever gets the notion to fire up a blunt. The rest of Adam’s recipients were women with children who still have their mothers because of Adam’s generous Gift of Life.
When Adam was an infant I would hold him for hours, even while he slept. He had such a loving presence, I just wanted to bask in his essence. I could hardly believe he was real or that he was mine. I remember gazing down at the sleeping infant in my arms, with the feeling that one day he would do something very special. That Adam would heal people through his actions. I could never have imagined at the time of his birth that the healing Adam would offer would be through his death, and my having given him back to God.
When I began communicating with Adam posthumously, I asked Adam if has knowledge of his recipients. He replied, “I don’t know who they are, but I feel their prayers and their gratitude.
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