We don’t really live on Christmas Close. It’s just what the children had renamed the road on account of the Christmas lights that beautifully illuminate our road.
But there was a miracle that happened here. The doubters and the naysayers can believe what they want, but for us there is no doubt.
I wanted to believe in miracles all my life. I felt drawn to church when I was younger. We had a vicar who was able to tell stories from the bible that would capture my attention. I loved stories and hearing people talk about them afterwards. It was like one giant book club that would meet and review the stories they’d heard each week. I was always most interested in stories of seemingly magical happenings. How could Noah have built a boat big enough to hold so many animals? How could Samson lose his strength when his hair was cut? Stories that drew you in to a different world, where you could believe the impossible might happen were always my favourites. Yet in my own life I felt I was trapped in a life where things seemed to go from bad to worse, no matter how positive I tried to be.
Always believe something magical is about to happen. I’d put it on my Instagram stories just a few weeks earlier. It was my screen saver for many years and what I always hold onto. I refused to give up. In a year where my baby girl had been so cruelly taken from us, where my elder daughter’s health had declined and where my husband’s health plummeted, I attempted to cling to a belief that things can always get better. Sometimes that belief took the form of me thinking this was all just a dream and I would wake up soon to find my three children happy and my husband healthy. But mostly, I believed we could find happiness right where we were.
Society tries to sell us a belief that we can find better elsewhere, mainly by buying happiness. Buy a bigger house, get a better job, buy more clothes another car etc etc! I’m not really a things person. My house is testimony to it, if we were to move my own possessions would occupy hardly any space, my children’s collection of toys on the other hand would need their own van. But for me things don’t matter, it is the people that do. So I believed in the broken place we occupied we could find happiness. I believed that something magical would happen to bind us back together.
In the week leading up to Lexi’s birthday and the anniversary of her death I found myself unable to hold back the tears. I attempted to keep it together by not stopping. I am not one for sitting still, I can’t often focus on watching tv programs, I can always find something that needs to be done. I have an obsessive compulsion to tidy. Lots of people have told me they wish they had OCD but I can categorically say I wish I didn’t, it is exhausting. The week of Lexi’s birthday it was at an all time high and not wanting to sit still helped me at least be prepared for the ball, maybe the only time I’ve been thankful for OCD. On Friday evening I had finished boxing everything up for the ball so it was all ready just to be put into the car the next evening. I looked at the clock, 12:01. It was Lexi’s birthday. I got out my laptop and rewrote part of my speech. I finally shut the laptop. There was nothing else I could do, everything was ready, I considered tidying the house and my exhaustion made me finally just sit. I started talking to Lexi, something I do often. I was telling her how I was sorry I wasn’t finishing off wrapping her birthday presents. How we should have been sat here putting together a little tikes car, traditionally our children’s 1st birthday present. Through tears I told her I was sorry I couldn’t buy her anything but I hoped in Heaven she would be having the most amazing birthday. I said that although we couldn’t get her a present maybe she could send one for daddy. It was 12:45 I was exhausted and went up to bed.
Always believe something magical is about to happen.
I was asleep within minutes and then suddenly awake again. The phone was ringing. “Hello” I heard Andrew saying. He put the phone on speaker.
“Is that Andrew Mace?”
I grabbed Andrew’s hand, both of us squeezing each other’s tightly. We knew what this was.
“I’m calling from Guys hospital, we have a kidney for you.”
I’ve never felt anything like that before. We had received one phone call in July and another offer had come and been refused by his consultant earlier this month. The call in July was courtesy, unable to outright tell Andrew not to accept the kidney they had explained all the reasons why he shouldn’t accept it.
This call was so different the surgeon went on to explain what a very good kidney this was. Everything he said was positive. How the donor had one small kidney and so the kidney they were offering him had grown bigger to compensate and they suspected that kidney was doing the work of both. It was a sort of 2 for 1 in the kidney he was being offered. The donor had an incredible GFR, that is what tells them how well the kidney was working. The donor was only a few years different in age to Andrew. We both couldn’t believe it. Everything we were told sounded so positive. They commented that although Andrew might have potential live donors this kidney could be as good as a live donor kidney.
“What are your thoughts Mr Mace? Would you like to accept the kidney?”
Andrew is often more guarded with his feelings so it was a surprise to hear his response.
“Today is my daughter’s birthday, she died last year. This is a birthday gift from her.”
As we said goodbye to the surgeon and told him we would make our way into Guys hospital we both stood in shock. Both of us crying and thanking Lexi. It was a sign she was still with us, the sign we had so desperately waited for.
I called our neighbour who had been on standby ready waiting for this call since Andrew had been placed on the list.
“Is everything alright” she answered. “The hospital phoned, they’ve got a kidney for Andrew, it’s Lexi, it’s Lexi, she’s done this for him.” I must of sounded hysterical and I was. I was completely overcome with the fact I had just minutes before we received the call been asking Lexi for this. She hadn’t left us completely, we couldn’t see her anymore but we could feel her love. And Andrew was going to get his kidney.
As we drove through London it didn’t escape me that nearly a year ago we had made that same journey down the motorway in the ambulance with Lexi. One journey filled with despair, one filled with a renewed sense of hope.
All the doctors and nurses we met on Lexi’s birthday we told of why this was so significant to us. We shared lots of tears with them. We went and found a quiet space and sat and thought of the donor and their family who had just lost their loved one. We said prayers for their family. We would never forget this donor and will without question remember them every year on Lexi’s birthday.
Andrew had made me promise on the journey to the hospital I would still go to the ball. At 7:15pm just 15 minutes before our ball was due to start Andrew was taken down for his surgery. I had just arrived at the venue. For months I had worried how I would survive the time Andrew was in surgery. 7 hours the operation would take. I too had been gifted the perfect distraction. Although I wasn’t able to stop checking my phone every few minutes I managed to enjoy a beautiful evening celebrating our Lexi’s first birthday and all that has been achieved in her memory.
Finally at 2am the surgeon called me. “Mrs Mace, the surgery has gone really well. Andrews awake and talking.”
She even took the time to ask how the ball had gone. It was an amazing call.
We couldn’t prevent the donor from dying but Andrew was able to honour their wishes to give the gift of life to another.
A miracle happened on Christmas Close that night. The timing was perfect. The doubters and the naysayers can believe what they want, but for us there is no doubt.
Always believe something magical is about to happen.