So the shoes I wore that day were new, and so pretty. Covered with a black fabric that had scattered small flowers in pink and blue and orange. Green leaves scattered about, little fabric bow in front, small open toe that was technically not proper dress code. Surprisingly comfortable, which was good because I would be wearing them for over 24 hours.
I did not know what I was going to be facing that day as I slid those shoes on and drove many miles to one of the 150 hospitals we serve. A young woman had taken her own life under heartbreaking circumstances. Doctors were determining that her brain had completely died. Because she was still on the breathing equipment she could be an organ donor if the family chose that for her.
Know that you are surrounded by wonderful people. This is what I have learned the past ten years doing this work. I meet them every day. Look for them. Expect to see them. I got to know two lovely women that day, and through them this beautiful young woman the world had lost.
The ability to save lives through organ donation is often a gift to those sad families left behind. They can take this tragic event and make something good happen. That was what this mother and aunt chose on this young woman’s behalf. It was symbolic of the kind of person she was, this young woman.
Later that afternoon paperwork was complete; mother and aunt had spent hours at the bedside, they were ready to go home. We got emotional, we three women. We hugged and cried in the hallway. This is when my life is rich with my love for people, their goodness, their sweetness, and their fragility despite their braveness. All day long l had fallen more in love with those women.
I had so much work yet to do so I thanked them once again and with one last hug headed back to the nurse’s station. I was halfway down the hall when two voices called out “Melissa!” I turned back. The sisters had their arms around each other’s shoulders and tears streaming down their faces.
“We love your shoes,” they said in unison.
All these years later, I remember them so clearly. I send love to them.
Melissa Regan is a Storyteller who is honored to celebrate the life you live and the people you love. She partners with individuals at significant times of life and loss, supporting them by creating and presenting their loved ones story at a service or by planning an inspirational day of rememberance and reflection.
Melissa spent time as a critical care nurse before she became specialized in the field of organ donation. Melissa was well known for the care she gave grieving families and did this delicate work for 14 years. Her experience lead to her teaching heartfelt methods of communication to donation specialists around the world.
Inspired by everything these families taught her, she expanded her perspective on life by studying Positive Psychology, earning both a CiPP and a CAPP. She received training as an end of life doula through INELDA. She has a special grace all her own when it comes to supporting us at times of change and loss.
Melissa is a wife, mother, lifelong learner, and a lover of the wonder you can find in a single moment. She brings this wonder to her public speaking, connecting us to the grandness and depth always present in the day to day.
“Take a day to be thoughtful... the rest of your life is here.”