When my husband Oliver died, my life ended. My purpose, my passion, my everything bled out with him on the side of the Pacific Coast Highway. Ollie was an organ donor. His eyes, his brain, his lungs, his heart...parts of my Ollie went out and saved lives. Then his heart, beating in another man's chest, found its way back to me, and I found myself faced with an impossible choice: hold on to the pain and beauty of the past and the memory of the man I loved, or reach for a bold new future, knowing each heartbeat will be a reminder of all I've lost.
I wasn't supposed to live past 30. My grandfather died at 45. Heart failure. My father died at 38 Heart failure. The doctors told me my whole life that I wouldn't see my 31st birthday. My heart was going to give out. It was just a matter of time: a rare blood type and an unusually large heart meant essentially zero chance of a transplant. I proved them all wrong...by dying on my 31st birthday. And then I woke up, alive, with another man's heart inside my chest, and his widow on my conscience. I spent my whole life preparing for death, and now I have to learn how to live. Only, as I soon discovered, living is the easy part. Loving, and allowing myself to be loved...well, that's a whole lot harder.