I can’t stand the sound of my own heart beat. It bothers me. It makes me uncomfortable. And, I place that blame on my father for having a heart transplant when I was a 7th grader. He was 44, I was 13.
New Years Eve 1999 was the day that my father was given the gift of life. His new heart was 15 – the donor passed away in a car accident. He was hit by a drunk driver.
The sound of a beating heart haunts me. I hear it when I go to bed at night. I hear it when I’m sitting in class. I hear it when I talk to new people. But, at least I hear it. Terry Cottle doesn’t hear his heart beat anymore. And neither does Sonny Graham.
After reading “2 men, 2 suicides”, I was struck with sadness. This one heart, for some time, brought immense happiness and love to so many people – and not only to the 2 men who held the heart in their chests. It also won over Cheryl, family, and friends. But now, that heart ceases to do so. It’s a shame.
The thing to remember here is that life is precious. Most people don’t get second chances. Thanks to transplantation, some do. It must be cherished, not wasted.
I’m glad Allen G. Breed decided to share this story. It opens up a vantage point that isn’t seen often. Because, let’s be honest, it’s not everyday that you meet someone who’s had a transplant. Lucky for me, I have one for a father.
Who knows, maybe “2 men, 2 suicides” opened more eyes toward transplantation. That’d be a plus.
The more the merrier, I say.
The story of Graham and Sonny’s shared heart is full of character and quirks. My father’s is too.
A couple years after his transplant, the parents of my father’s donor had dinner with my own. They ate at a Cuban-fusion restaurant across the street from our house. We were regulars there. It was like Cheers, everyone really did know our names.
Drinks were ordered first and dinner orders followed, it was time for the feast at hand. Much like Graham’s craving for beer and hot dogs – Cottle’s favorite foods – my father found himself in a similar situation. He ordered a pork chop – something he never would’ve ordered, seeing as we’re Jewish – which was his donor’s favorite home-cooked meal. Go figure.
If some men can have a second chance at life, then we all can. That’s where Breed laid his focus – on life, not on suicide.
It’s like when Graham shot down his doctor’s idea to see a counselor for post-transplant depression.
He said, "I'm sorry the other guy died, but this is my heart now."
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