Have you ever experienced one of those moments in life when you see or hear something that completely changes the course of your day? A memory that you thought was safely boxed away, that enough time had passed for it to be labelled emotionally “safe”, is triggered and once again your heart splits open, vulnerable and aching. This happened to me when I read this post on my facebook feed:
Our youngest son Timothy was the kind of son every parent wants. He was good natured, gregarious, talented, fit and healthy. He was definitely a lovable Aussie larrikin and made Sharon and I so proud because he succeeded in so many ways. Timothy was a state champion athlete at 16 with coaches mapping his future to the Olympics. He achieved honors in classical piano and a piece of his artwork was chosen for a charity art auction. He was awarded the arts award for drama twice by Prince Alfred College in Adelaide where he studied on a full scholarship which he earned. All this was expensive for us but he deserved everything we gave him. He made the space he was in a better place for everyone else. We were so proud of him and hopeful of where he would go.
On Monday 16th May 2005 he was a passenger in a car hit by someone driving on the wrong side of highway 1 near Port Wakefield and around 3.30am Tuesday 17th May circulation to his brain ceased and he died. I cannot describe the emotional trauma of that time or the pain the memories of that time still cause me. There is nothing worse than losing a child in such tragic circumstances.
Next May will be the anniversary of his death and the anniversary of four people getting a new life through receiving his heart, pancreas, liver and kidneys. Sharon and I would be so blessed and honoured to meet any of those people and hear their stories and maybe listen to Timothy’s heart again. We have no desire to burden them with any form of guilt but only seek to rejoice in their lives with them. Official channels will not tell us much about the recipients but we would dearly love to meet them. To this end I would like all my friends and their friends to pass this on in the hope that the recipients of Timothy’s organs would like to know a little more about where a part of them came from.
Thankyou to all who read this and even more to those who repost.
Kim and Sharon McWaters
Minlaton, South Australia
Tim was a student of mine. He lit up my English classroom with his enthusiasm and pure joy. “Today feels like an ‘A’ day, Mrs B!”, he would exclaim as he came bounding in to my classroom. “Tim’s here”, I smiled, pleased at his unrelenting effort to achieve the A grade that had so far eluded him.
It would be easy to interpret his father’s words as the skewed perception of a proud dad, a grieving father who wishes to forever keep his son on a pedestal. Yet that is not true in this case. Tim was most certainly a talented athlete, musician, artist and actor. Having grown up in a small rural town, Tim clearly relished the opportunities he was given at his prestigious city college, throwing himself wholeheartedly into the Music, Art and Drama program, while still maintaining his athletics training, particularly in his preferred area of Pole Vaulting.
Like all of the boarding students, Tim had gone home for a 3 day Exeat weekend, a brief respite from the rigours of his Year 12 studies. He was returning to school early on the public holiday Monday for rehearsals of the school Musical, when the accident occurred.
By pure circumstance, my husband and I decided to use that public holiday as a chance to get out of the city, driving towards one of our favourite spots on the beautiful Yorke Peninsula. On approaching Port Wakefield we were caught in a bottleneck for over an hour, as police carefully directed drivers around the accident scene. I said a silent prayer as we drove past the wreckage, not knowing at the time that it was Tim in the car the ambulance officers were working so hard to free. To this day I have trouble reconciling that image of Tim with the ebullient young man in the front row of my class.
When it became clear Tim was not going to survive, his parents made the decision to honour Tim’s wishes and donate his organs (Tim had signed onto the Australian Donor Register soon after he first became a blood donor). Tim’s liver saved the life of a young woman who had gone into renal and liver failure after giving birth to her first child. A married mother of two in her early 40s who had been on the transplant list for six years received Tim’s right kidney. His left kidney and pancreas went to a married father in his early 30s who had been waiting for over two years. A middle aged man was the recipient of Tim’s 17 year old heart.
Tim’s eyes and lungs were damaged in the accident, making them unsuitable for transplant.
Tim was a young man with a huge heart: I am sure the man who now has the privilege of it beating in his chest knows how lucky he is, as do the recipients of Tim’s other organs. This Christmas I will be thinking of these people: I’m sure for them every Christmas is an extra special blessing. I will absolutely be thinking of Kim and Sharon, Tim’s parents, who for years have endured the grief of losing their son. Above all, I will be thinking of Tim, who gave the greatest gift of all – saving the lives of four other people – and who lives on in them.