Friday, March 1, 2013


I think all you Travellers are pretty familiar with my obsession with Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  It is my favorite show of all time and I watch the reruns and reruns of reruns whenever possible.

There is one episode that I have only seen once though, when it was first aired and I've not watched it again since.  It's too hard to watch, it's too hard to see actors make-believing the tragedy we lived.  They were respectful, it's not that, but that episode happened to us.

I don't want to be writing this, I don't want to be dredging this up again.  I have resisted and said no, that this is our family pain and not to be grist for the community mill.  But it keeps coming back and it hurts, I want it to leave me alone and accept that I have accepted.

It won't get out of my head, so here I am showing you my deepest wound.

Joyce Summers died in that episode of Buffy, out of the blue from a brain aneurysm.  A tiny ninja assassin inside her brain.  That same assassin took the life of my oldest daughter many years ago, out of the same clear blue, with the same brutal efficiency.

It is a pain that never lessens, never goes away.  It is an ache that you learn to live with because there is no other choice.  It is the yardstick by which all other pain is measured.

Today is March 1st, the month of Brianne's birth and death.  She was just 12 years and 6 days old, when she died.  When we killed her.

Oh don't say that we didn't kill her, you who were there, because we did.  We made that choice for her, it is an ugly truth but it is the truth.  The doctors came to us and said we had to decide Brianne's fate, to keep her body functioning on machines or to stop her beautiful, courageous heart.

They said she wasn't going to be coming back to us, that her brain had died and all that was left was a shell. We chose to say good bye, we chose to donate her organs, we chose to kill Brianne.

I do not have the luxury of soft, easy, comforting words anymore.  People wonder why I am so blunt, it's because the time for pretense is long gone.  All that was left after Bri were pain and truth.  Life is too fucking short and the lies will not set you free.

I shared a video on my Facebook page on Valentine's Day.  A lovely little girl made the video for her best friend, a boy with a congenital heart defect.  It was incredibly touching and I understood that girl's pain, her best friend needed a heart.

Here's a fun fact about organ donation.  Just like body parts outside, body parts inside are not one size fits all.  No, those organs have to be roughly the same size, they have to come from a body of the same size.  So, if a 10 year old needs a new heart, someone else's baby has to die in order to provide.

As much as I want that boy to live, I don't want some other parents to go through what we did.

I don't regret donating Bri's organs, but of course I regret the choice.  I still don't know if it was the right one, I will probably never know.  Did we not give the universe a chance to give us a miracle?  It is a question that hounds me every moment of every day.

Brianne is the reason I am so intent on living, I live my life in her honor and I am brave because she made me so.  She is the reason I won't tolerate the lies that we tell to stop ourselves from being fulfilled, she is the reason I push so hard.

There isn't much time, there is never enough time.  It can be over so fast and then what, regret about a life not fully realized?

NO, I will not go quietly into that dark night.  I WILL NOT.

I will keep railing, rallying, fighting and crying, but I will not surrender to the pain.  I owe Brianne my very best, everyone in our family owes Brianne their very best, and it is a debt I intend to honor.


  1. Dear Cairn - I can't begin to imagine how difficult it must be for you - the sense of loss, the confusion and the emptiness. I am amazed at your courage and authenticity. ♥

  2. Cairn,

    I have to young children and as a mother my heart goes out to you. I can't imagine your pain and grief.

    "It won't get out of my head, so here I am showing you my deepest wound."

    I think sometimes sharing and writing about our feelings can definitely have a healing effect. It can help us sort through thoughts and emotions and sometimes it's just healing to share one's burden, to unload it for awhile.

    I can't fathom how difficult this month will be for your. I will be praying that you can find some peace in your heart despite the memories I'm sure that will rise to the surface.

    Many hugs

  3. I agonized after publishing this that I shouldn't have, that I should have kept private family business private. Parts of my family hate me because I won't ignore the loss and pretend like they do, but I realized that it's not about them. Thank you so much, you and Corinne, for commenting and supporting. It means so much that you offered support, I keep writing because of people like you.

  4. It took courage and conviction and incredible love to share this with us, Cairn. My heart aches for you and your family. Though I don't know the incomparable pain of losing a child, I did lose a husband from a freak accident which affected his brain much like what happened to your dear, sweet little girl. I wish there had been the outlet of blogging at that time in my life; I think being able to share grief and hurt with people willing to love and listen is crucial for healing our hearts.
    Blessings to you always!