Because I Want To Tell Her Story

When Emily died, one of the first promises I made to myself and her was that I’d find ways to keep her spirit alive and continue her story. That’s why this blog exists. It’s also why I made the decision to sign up as a volunteer with Donate Life, a cause very near and dear to Emily’s heart (I promise that phrasing was not intended as the poor joke it sounds like).

Since April is Donate Life Month, the past few weeks have been busy to say the least. Although it’s left me feeling tired and a little blue at times, I’m also incredibly grateful for each and every opportunity I receive to tell Emily’s story in some way.

Sharing Emily’s Story Through Action

Emily never shied away from volunteer work and helping others. I try to live my own life in that same way, and I decided that volunteering for Donate Life would be a good way to give back in Emily’s honor. The winter months didn’t provide many opportunities, but April sure changed that with a variety of Donate Life related events.

The kids and I were free on a Saturday when Vanderbilt was hosting a heart walk event in Lebanon, so we went to man the Donate Life booth. We spent a few hours talking to folks about organ donation, encouraging them to register, and applauding those who were already registered donors.

At one point, a couple came up to the booth, and I greeted them. One of them was already a registered donor, while the other was not. I asked if I could get personal for a minute, and the person nodded. So, I shared a bit of Emily’s story and explained all the things she got to do because of organ donation. I then said I would never force someone to do something, but I hoped the person would be willing to take some information and read it over. They agreed to do that, and I considered it a win.

Sharing Emily’s Story Through Words

At one point during the month, I got an unexpected phone call from one of the people who works for Tennessee Donor Services. She wanted to know if I’d be willing to speak at a Donate Life flag raising event in Smyrna. Although I didn’t at all feel worthy of such an ask, I knew it would be another way I could share Emily with people, so I agreed.

Here’s what I shared:

Good afternoon! My name is Megan Glosson, and I am very honored to be here for this event. Although there are many things I could share about myself with you, that’s not why we’re here today. We’re here in celebration of Donate Life Month.

The gift of organ donation is something I don’t just think about during the month of April, but every single day. Because, without a man named Victor’s selfless gift, I would have never met the woman I’m going to tell you about today: Emily.

In August 2017, Emily started her senior year at MTSU. Although she’d undergone open heart surgery to correct a congenital heart defect just a few months prior, she was determined to make the most of her last two semesters of college. Unfortunately, her body decided it had other plans, and she went into heart failure just part of the way through the fall term.

Emily ended up at Vanderbilt, where she was added to the transplant waiting list. She spent six weeks bouncing between the hospital and her home with strict limits on what she could do or where she could go. Then, in the early morning hours of December 23, Emily received the life-saving call she’d been waiting for — they had a heart for her.

Thanks to this Christmas miracle, Emily lived the remaining 5 years of her time here on Earth to the fullest. 

She not only finished her bachelor’s degree, but went on to graduate from the University of Kentucky with a Masters in Social Work. She used these degrees to help people throughout Middle Tennessee who live with mental illness. She facilitated training courses to better inform other mental health providers and community members about misunderstood conditions like eating disorders and PTSD. And, she volunteered for organizations like the Crisis Text Line because she simply wanted to help others continue to live.

She got to hold her youngest niece just days after she was born and watch all of her nieces grow into incredible young ladies. She traveled to cities like Chicago, St. Louis, and Denver. She continued pursuing hobbies she enjoyed, like playing her oboe and dancing. She rode roller coasters, went to a Lizzo concert, and spent lots of time in the pool. 

As you may have guessed, I’m also here today because of Emily’s Christmas miracle. Without it, Emily and I would have never met, let alone fallen in love and built a life together.

Even though Emily was just 21 at the time her transplant, the blessing of another person’s selfless gift wasn’t lost on her. Through every single one of those moments of Emily’s life that I just mentioned, she found ways to honor her donor, an incredible young man named Victor. 

Emily included Victor on both of her graduation caps. She connected with Victor’s mother, Norma, and shared life updates with her frequently through emails and text messages. She cherished a scrapbook filled with pictures and stories of Victor’s life. And, we’d already decided that when we had a child together, we would name that child after Victor as a way to help his legacy live on.

Emily remained a registered organ and tissue donor after she received her transplant. She hoped that one day, she could provide the same gift of life to someone else that Victor provided to her. 

Unfortunately, Emily died suddenly and unexpectedly back in October. But, she was able to provide life-saving tissue donations to help others, and I feel certain that those recipients are living their lives to the fullest thanks to her willingness to be the gift.

Tomorrow will mark six months since I lost Emily. Most days, I’m still very much living my life minute by minute. But, even in my saddest moments, I am incredibly thankful for the gift of life that organ and tissue donation provides because it gave my best friend and the love of my life a chance to live out her dreams and let me live out mine as well. 

Sharing Emily’s Story in Unconventional Ways

I think the most unconventional way I shared Emily with the world this month was through something I’m still shocked I did: a fashion show.

Once again, Tennessee Donor Services reached out to ask if I’d be willing to participate in a fashion show on Emily’s behalf. They said the segment of the show I’d be in was a feature on organ donation, and all of the “models” would either be transplant recipients or a family member of a donor. Although it would put me 100% out of my comfort zone, I agreed to participate because of Emily.

The designer, a student at Belmont, tried to make a jacket that I would wear, but combined aspects of me and Emily. Although she ran out of time to truly make what we’d envisioned, she did make a reversible jacket that was “Megan colors” on one side and “Emily colors” on the other.

The show itself was a big to-do: I had to get my hair and makeup done by their provided stylists, and then I walked down a 60 foot runway to model the outfit. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I loved the chance to share Emily (and Victor) with the world.

I’ll Keep Sharing Her Story Until I Die

I don’t know what the future holds, and the past 6 months have really shown me that. However, I do know this: For as long as I’m still alive, I’ll continue to look for ways to share Emily with others. There’s a lot in my life I have because of her, and I firmly believe her legacy is one that deserves to live on for decades to come.

I love Emily with every cell in my body, and that will never change. So, hang on folks, because I’m going to be talking about Emily for as long as I have left on this ridiculous planet.


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