Writing this letter has been a very important part of my healing, however, I am realizing that my journey of healing and recovery is just beginning. As the body heals and the ’emergency’ of life fades, the emotional and mental aspects of the past years find new and interesting hues of expression. A small step, sent to the family via the Royal Free Hospital Transplant Team to the anonymous donor family:
February 4, 2014
I am writing to express my deepest condolences for your recent loss of a family member. My name is Elizabeth Reumont, and I am the extremely lucky and grateful person who received a liver transplant on September 26, 2013. I was given a chance to live as a result of your loved oneâ€™s death.â€¨â€¨I have thought for many months about the tremendous gift that I was given, and also about the responsibility I bear as a result.Â I am the vessel holding a very sacred part of your beloved, and I take that as seriously as I hold my life; as sacred as the lives of all other beings.Â I try my best every day to assimilate this new part of myself in with the old, to fully accept this gift as my own, and as funny as it may sound, it is not always easy. I was ill for quite awhile while I was on the transplant waiting list; in fact, it became my â€˜normalâ€™ way of being. I havenâ€™t gotten to a point where I feel truly â€˜wellâ€™ and ‘healthy’ yet, but during this transition I also donâ€™t feel myself as being ill, or unwell. It is neither one nor the other. It makes me understand what being out of the body might be, and gives me genuine freedom knowing that there is something so much more in each of us than the body or the mind. I hope you find peace in knowing that your loved one is also free from the suffering that comes with being in a body that feels pain; free from the suffering that comes with having a mind that questions and perceives.â€¨ Your loved one has gone back to her original state, her state of being beyond the body and the mind; the state that never ceases, never dies. The state that is only Love.
Having a chance to watch my four year old son transform from a toddler to a little boy, and being able to fully participate in life is something I was unable to do fully prior to my transplant, and something that brought me deep sadness as my health declined. The days became more and more about the if and when of receiving a new liver, and how to do the minimum needed to get by without pain. While Iâ€™m not yet fully participating in all of life’s rich tapestry, I am enjoying the things that I have been able to resume and do not take any of it for granted.
As my body and mind continue to heal, I am continually surprised at the lasting emotional impact the transplant has had on me, and on my family and loved ones. My mental challenge is to accept each day with its potential and its limitations, and stay positive and confident that in time, all will heal.â€¨â€¨It has been four months since the surgery, and as my wound has still not fully healed, I am reminded every day of your generosity. As you know, many families over-ride the wishes of the deceased for organ donation, and because of this, thousands of people die every year who could be given another chance at life. I have been given that chance, and I have you and your family to thank.
How does one ever thank someone for saving their life? For me, it has meant examining my life closely and making changes, for I know that words will never express my internal gratitude. I do feel, however, that if I can live my life to the best of my abilities, to be kind and also patient with myself and other beings, I may in some small way help another being in need. This would make me very happy.â€¨â€¨ My life today is a result of your familyâ€™s actions, and I hope that others will be inspired to do the same as you, to follow through with organ donations all over the world. We all inspire one another, and are all connected in some way. Please know that you have impacted many lives as a result of your decision to follow through with organ donation; most of all, my life. Also, please know that the life of your loved one lives on through me, and I will do my best to honor and respect this gift.
With all my gratitude and respect, Love, Elizabeth Reumont