Thursday, December 5, 2013

Miracles Can Happen

While boarding a flight back to Michigan with her sister, 24-year-old Natalie Taylor had a tough time concealing her emotions. An elderly gentleman remarked, “You two look very upset.”

“My husband was in a bad accident,” Natalie replied.

“Well, just remember,” he said, “Miracles can happen.” Then he moved on to find his seat.

Five months pregnant with her first child, Natalie had planned this trip to Florida to visit her sister Sarah as a final hurrah before the realities and restrictions of motherhood set in. Her vacation was cut short, however, when a friend of her husband’s called from a hospital to tell her about the accident. 

“He mentioned bleeding and I kept asking him ‘Where was the blood? Where was he bleeding from?’” Natalie says. “The minute he told me, ‘the mouth,’ I knew it was bad.

Growing up, Josh Taylor was a very science-oriented kid. He loved chemistry and went on to major in it at college, where he met his future wife. “He was more scientific than spiritual,” says Natalie. “I never really saw him read anything religious in nature; he was always saying ‘let’s talk about what we know for sure.’” As a case in point, Natalie dug through a box of momentoes to find Josh’s college thesis for me. Its title? Oxidation of Trialkylboranes Derived from Terminal and Symmetrical Internal Alkenes Via Potassium Permanganate: Unexpected Coupling Reactions. Point taken.

Josh cycling across the country for charity.
After college, Josh went to work for a medical supply company, selling devices used in the procurement and preservation of human organs prior to transplantation. Having volunteered with an agency that worked with troubled kids, Josh had developed a strong humanitarian streak, and as such, he was excited that his professional work combined two of his passions: science and helping people.

Josh had been carveboarding (think: surfing on a downhill road) when the accident happened. “They told me the trauma to Josh’s head was so severe his entire brain stem was crushed,” Natalie recalls of her candid conversations with the doctor. “He said, ‘Everything from the neck up is destroyed and his brain is not working. From the neck down, however, everything is perfect.” 

Although Josh had not signed an organ donation card, Natalie knew exactly what her practical, caring, and fit husband would want: to not waste a set of healthy 27-year-old organs. And so she gave her consent, signed the paperwork, and even noted the irony in seeing the logo of Josh’s employer on various forms and equipment throughout the donation process.

At her husband’s funeral several days later, numerous friends tried to console Natalie. “People said all the typical things to me: he’s in a better place, he’s at peace, this was God’s plan. But Josh would’ve said, ‘Forget all these common niceties. Let’s talk about what we know for sure.’” And what we know for sure is this: six people’s lives were saved by the loving decision of a pregnant young widow. 

Though for different reasons, the man on the plane was right: miracles can happen.

Natalie and her son, Kai. 
Natalie Taylor is the author of the memoir, Signs of Life, which I highly recommend.

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Download a PDF of the first 4 chapters of Lauren's memoir, Zuzu's Petals: A True Story of Second Chances, free.  Click here and go to the link below the "Buy the Book" button.  Zuzu's Petals is also available on Kindle and Nook.  Hardcover signed and inscribed copies are available at Happy reading!