To Love Beyond Illness

I know. I had pledged to take a sabbatical from this blog. I thought there was nothing left to say. I felt as though I had no more to share with others about organ donation and transplant awareness. That was, until a few moments ago, when a friend shared a photo on Facebook of someone I never met, never knew and would never know. A love that went beyond the bonds of what some perceive to be a “normal relationship. A moment in time of unconditional love, hope and faith.

Here is what was shared with me (click picture for larger view):

Katie Kirkpatrick Wedding Photos

Her name is Katie Kirkpatrick, 21 yrs old. Next to her is her fiancé, Nick, 23. (Pic1)

This picture was taken prior to their wedding January 11th, 2005.
Katie has terminal cancer and spends hours in chemotherapy.
Here Nick awaits while she finishes one of the sessions…(Pic2)

Even in pain and dealing with her organs shutting down, with the help of morphine,
Katie took care of every single part of the wedding planning.
Her dress had to be adjusted several times due to Katie ‘s constant weight loss. (Pic3)

An expected guest was her oxygen tank. Katie had to use it during the ceremony and reception.
The other couple in this picture is Nick’s parents, very emotional with the wedding and to see their
son marrying the girl he fell in love when he was an adolescent. (Pic4)

Katie , in a wheel chair listening to her husband and friends singing to her. (Pic5)

In the middle of the party, Katie had to rest for a bit and catch her breath.
The pain does not allow her to stand for long period of time. (Pic6)

Katie died 5 days after her wedding. To see a fragile woman dress as bride with a beautiful smile
makes you think… happiness is always there within reach, no matter how long it lasts…..
lets enjoy life and don’t live a complicated life. Life is too short.
Work as if it was your first day.
Forgive as soon as possible.
Love without boundaries…
Laugh without control
and never stop smiling.
Please pray for those suffering from cancer.
We all have close to our heart.
Keep this going.

Prayers are always answered.

Life is too short to argue and desperate.

These pictures sparked a part of me that I had long forgotten.

Greg and I were married in June 1999, after 4 years together. I moved my world from the East Coast to the Midwest, because I did not want to take him away from his doctors. He was born with Cystic Fibrosis – a “terminal” childhood illness that claimed his older sister when she was only 16 years old. A disease that, shortly after we were married, would try to claim his life a few times.

I’ve watched my best friend and husband go from 1 liter of oxygen at night up to 4 liters 24/7 and then to 24/7 life supporting ventilation. I’ve bathed him when he was sick, was his voice when a machine breathed for him and battled every moment with the doctors to not give up hope. After years of machines, he received his double lung transplant and will be celebrating his 8th transplant anniversary this year – without any hint of rejection or complications.

I married him, knowing there was a great chance I would be a widow by the time I was 30 years old. To me, there was no option. He is part of me and, although I don’t always agree with everything he does, he has a beautiful soul that would blind others if they truly had the opportunity to see it. He is my lover, my best friend and the man that I will spend eternity with no matter what comes our way.

So, the reason for my return is to help others realize that love can conquer all and nothing should ever stand in the way of the love you feel for another human being. Stand tall in that strength and rely on the love to guide you through both the good and bad. Let nothing stand in its way!

After her husband received a double-lung (bilateral) transplant in 2004, Shannon founded the Angel Cove Organ Donation Awareness Shop, which provides awareness t-shirts and gifts products for transplant recipients, living organ donors and donor families - giving 100% of the profits to help heart and lung transplant recipients with medical costs. Shannon lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her wonderful husband and two chocolate Labrador Retrievers.

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