"In our deepest moments of struggle, frustration, fear, and confusion, we are being called upon to reach in and touch our hearts. Then, we will know what to do, what to say, how to be. What is right is always in our deepest heart of hearts. It is from the deepest part of our hearts that we are capable of reaching out and touching another human being. It is, after all, one heart touching another heart."-Roberta Sage Hamilton
I woke up and went to church, it was the first time I decided to go to church by myself since Nick passed away. Thank goodness I sat next to a friend of mine. I decided to leave after sacrament meeting because it was starting to become more difficult as the day went on. I drove home and Hannah and I just took a nap in bed. A few hours go by and my phone rings, it was my Aunt Jill. She asked me what I was doing. I told her that I was laying down with Hannah. My Aunt Jill calls me all the time just to see how I am doing, so I didn't think anything of it. She immediately started off with "Caroline I know who has Nick's heart." I of course woke right up, because I had no idea what she was talking about, how could she know that? I knew that Nick's heart went to man who had five children but that is all the information I knew about him. I knew that I could always get more information and get in contact with him if I wanted to down the road. I said back to her "What do you mean?" She later explained that a family friend of ours was at some dinner when another man was talking about this heart transplant that he had just recently received six months ago. He said that he knew he was a BYU football player but wasn't allowed to contact the family until the six month mark. Our family friend walked up to him and said something along the lines of "I think I know who's heart you have! Nick Longshore. His family lives here in Utah, would you like to meet them?" He of course said yes, that is if I wanted too. Now I know that there were a few other people involved and some other factors as to how that went, but that is the simple version of it.
As I was on the phone with my Aunt Jill listening to this story, I was literally just freaking out. I could not believe it. His description did match the little bit of info I was given as well. I told my Aunt Jill that I would call her back and let her know if I wanted to meet him. I was suppose to go to her house anyways for a mothers day dinner and she said that he was going to come if I wanted him too. My aunt Jill later told me to YouTube "Ken Gardner Heart"
So I did. I clicked on the video, and there he was. Ken Gardner talking about his heart transplant. I immediately started crying. This man talking about MY family and MY husband and his heart. All I wanted was for Nick's heart was to go to someone who was grateful and then here is this man talking about how strong this heart was. I knew that, that was the man who had Nick's heart.
After I hung up the phone I called my Dad. I asked him what I should do. Was it to soon to meet him? I didn't know if I was emotionally ready. My dad told me that he thought that I should do it, that it was Nick's way of giving me a mothers day gift. So I called my Aunt back and told her that I would like to meet him. I then started calling everyone and I called Nick's mom and she was pretty surprised too that this was going to happen.
I then started to get ready and I was just shaking. I was so nervous, this kind of stuff doesn't happen everyday, let alone on Mother's Day. I was so excited that Nick was trying to give me something. He was letting me know that he was aware that it was Mother's Day and that he was thinking about me. Well he did a pretty darn good job, and the message was loud and clear. When I got to my Aunt's house, I just sat on the couch with my sister and waited. I was just talking to Nick in my head the entire time. I was thanking him for thinking about me and not forgetting that today was mothers day. I was also thinking about how crazy my life is, how close to veil I am, and how lucky I am to have the most amazing husband in the world. He literally has changed my life in so many ways. He is so close to me, and continues to be my best friend. I would do anything for him and I know he would do anything for me...clearly.
As time went on, eventually there was a knock on the door. I went and hid by my aunt by the wall, I was so nervous. I heard my uncle answer the door and a then a group of people walk in. Now it was just a matter of stepping away from behind my aunt and walking out there. I walked out there and stood there with my hands over my face crying. My own heart started to pound. I didn't know what to say. This is the moment that Nick wanted to give me. I walked towards him and I couldn't believe how big he was. Just like Nick. I walked over to him and he started to cry. As I reached up to give him a hug, I had to get on my tip toes just like I would with Nick. He said "Now feel that beat." I put my ear up to his chest and I just couldn't believe this was happening. I haven't heard that beat in six months. I would lay on Nicks chest all the time when we would watch movies or just lay down together and I could always hear his heartbeat. Now to hear it again was an experience I will never forget. Just to look at this man and know what he has of Nick's is very surreal. No one can even imagine what it is like unless you have been in my shoes.
As Ken and his daughter Taylor came into the house we sat and talked for hours. I learned that Ken is a HUGE U of U fan, which is hilarious because Nick played football at BYU. Ken played basketball at the University of Utah back in the day. We know joke around that Ken bleeds blue. I guess that's what you get for being a U of U fan. :P His daughter Taylor was there when we met. She is a sweetheart. Before when her dad was dying, she told her bishop that she couldn't go on a mission because her dad was about to pass away, well when he got his heart transplant and everything went well, she put in her mission papers and she is now serving a mission in Russia.
I learned that Ken was very sick. He wasn't given much longer to live. His transplant was on November 22, 2013. Just two days after Nick passed. Ken has a firecracker of a personality. He has been nothing but grateful. He cried when he saw Hannah, and held her tight up to his chest. I do want Ken and my family to have a relationship. I want Hannah to know what her Dad gave someone else. Oh the stories I will have to tell her as she grows up. We eventually got in touch with donor services just to confirm that this was the right match, and it was.
People ask me all the time if I still cry myself to sleep at night or if it has gotten easier. Honestly, yes I have my moments, are yes they are very frequent. I can be a room FULL of people and no one has a clue that I am just crying inside or thinking about Nick. I can be having a conversation with someone but all I am thinking about is...Nick. Sometimes I can just see a picture of Nick and it is like he is literally standing right in front of me, and all of these memories just starting coming from no where.
This past month I have learned a few different things...
1. Nick is always around but whenever I go visit him and Colton at the cemetery, I swear I can hear Nick grabbing Colton telling him to come quick because Mom is coming to visit. I swear I can hear excitement from the two of them that I am there, ready for family prayer.
2. I rely on my patriarchal blessing more than I thought. I replay lines from my blessing throughout the day. Whenever I have a negative thought or feeling, a line from my blessing will pop right back in my head afterwards.
3. I was in St. George just recently, and I was sitting with my grandpa on the couch. It was just the two of us in the room and he looked at me and said "Caroline, we are in the same boat." I can't even tell you the amount of angels that were in the room with us that day. Both of our spouses were there. My grandma and my husband. I can't help but think that my Grandma later looked at Nick and said..."Nick, you and I are in the same boat."
As I am sitting here writing this, it still just gives me goosebumps. I miss Nick so much I can't even tell you. I miss the way things were. But I understand that I am one very lucky girl. I have something that no one else has. My Heavenly Father has some crazy plan for me. He has been working on it from the beginning and it is all just starting to unravel. I just hope and pray that from here on out that it will be easier. My heart can't handle anything else. I believe that Nick was trying to give me hug that day, and this was the best way he could think of. The experiences that I have been given are for a reason. Heavenly Father hand picks our trials because he knows us inside and out. He will never just give you a trial just for the heck of it. We mean too much to him. Each trial is for a purpose and was specifically designed for you because we are each so unique. Whenever you think you cannot handle something, just remember that this EXACT situation is meant for you which means you are the ONLY one who can get through it but you can do it with help. He would never create an experience that we couldn't pull through and rise to the top. He has more faith in us than we think.