She was busy gathering her things to leave her daughter’s grave when a young boy walked passed her. She couldn’t help but notice his striking grey eyes and light blonde hair.
The young boy gave her a warm smile and waved. She didn’t think that it meant anything, but what she saw next made her stomach drop.
The McRae family was living the lives of their dreams until one fateful day uprooted everything. Their beautiful daughter was sadly involved in an accident that claimed her life. She was only eighteen years old.
When Tammy McRae heard the news, she was at a loss for words. She wanted to believe that it was all lies. She was busy in the office when she received the call. The call changed her life completely.
Tammy and Chester were blessed with their sweet daughter while they were both still in college. They had been dating for years by that point, and before they found out Tammy was pregnant, they had already been engaged for a few months.
They had a beautiful wedding once they graduated, and it was the happiest day of their lives. Their daughter was their flower girl, and they couldn’t be prouder of her.
The years went on, and Linzie grew into a fantastic daughter. Everything she did made her mom and dad’s hearts swell with pride. She was one of the smartest kids in school, and she always made their home a little brighter
Apart from having a great daughter in Linzie, Tammy and Chester also had a great house and stable jobs. But one day, it would all come crashing down.
The story of the boy at the cemetery can be understood better by knowing one thing about Linzie. Throughout her childhood, she was the top student in the class.
She participated in every opportunity available to her and always ended at the top. No area was beyond Linzie’s grasp. In a bizarre turn of events, she would share something with her parents that would leave them speechless.
Her mother said, “She came home wanting to sign some organ donation forms from the hospital she was helping at. We encouraged her to do that since we thought it was a lovely gesture.”
It was Linzie’s nature to complete everything she set her mind to, so her parents were not surprised when she came home with an organ donation card. Tammy and Chester would lose her not long after that.
Tammy was stuck in the office when she received the heartbreaking call. She learned that her sweet daughter had been in a car accident with two of her friends and they were being transported to the ER.
Tammy’s whole body was frozen with fear, and she knew she needed to get to the hospital as soon as possible. She made her way to the ER, and what she found there would leave her at a loss of words.
Tammy had just walked into the hospital when her daughter was declared dead. She wanted nothing more but to hold her daughter’s hand as she passed on to the other side.
The days after that blurred into weeks, with everything around Tammy and Chester losing color and intrigue. They had been so broken by their loss until that fateful week.
A couple of months had gone by since Linzie’s funeral. Tammy made sure to visit her daughter’s grave every single day. She missed being close to her, and it was the next best thing.
She knew that her daughter did not want her parents to mourn for too long, and she would like them to move on. In that month, Tammy would be captivated by something peculiar.
Tammy was leaving her daughter’s grave when she saw a young boy walking passed her. She estimated him to be around seven years old, with blonde hair and a tiny backpack.
A wave and a smile were all that he could muster as he passed Tammy. After a period of time, she became aware of something she hadn’t given much thought to.
Tammy ran into the same boy the following evening. The week would continue in this same manner before Tammy decided she’d at least try to see why the boy was always at the cemetery at that time of day.
As the new week started, she decided to stay back after greeting the boy on her path back to her car. As always, he smiled, waved, and walked by her. But this time, she didn’t leave.
Tammy shadowed the boy with her phone’s camera recording, only to see him walk to Linzie’s tombstone. He stood over it for some seconds before sitting down.
The scene didn’t make any sense to Tammy, who stopped recording. She couldn’t think of why the boy was next to her daughter’s grave. Thinking maybe he’d confused the tombstones, she decided to step in.
As Tammy approached the boy, she considered the possibility of him being one of Linzie’s friends but noticed he was too young to have known her daughter on such a level.
She made sure he could hear her approach so as not to startle him before saying “hi” again and asking him what he was doing at Linzie’s grave.
“I asked him if he knew Linzie, and he said no,” Tammy said to a reporter from her town’s local news. She also revealed something about the boy that had her tearing up for days.
“He’d been battling a rare heart condition. After Linzie passed away, he received her heart through a transplant, which saved his life.” But why was he visiting Linzie’s grave every evening if he’d never met her? “Where’s your mom?” Tammy asked.
“He learned from his mom about Linzie and what she’d done for him, and the past two weeks, he had been asking his mom to drive him to the cemetery to talk to Linzie about his healing process,” Tammy shared amid happy tears.
The little boy’s mother was waiting for him in the parking lot. That’s when Tammy approached her and learned all the little boy and his family had been through.
Little Sam had been born with a rare heart condition called unbalanced atrioventricular canal defect. This heart defect allowed blood to move freely through the four chambers of his heart, causing problems with his heart and lungs.
A normal heart has separate chambers to keep the blood from the lungs from mixing with other blood from the rest of the body. By the time Sam was two, he’d already undergone four open-heart surgeries.
Although the surgeries seemed to help and Sam was able to live a relatively normal life for a few years, things changed when he turned six.
Although he’d been on the heart transplant list since he was three, no viable hearts had been donated. Sam’s condition continued to worsen. His mom, Jane, was beginning to lose hope.
According to the American Heart Association, the average wait for a heart transplant depends on several factors. However, it’s hardly ever a quick process.
Sam had to wait four years – which is longer than most. When he was six, his heart began to fail. He was hospitalized, and had to stay there until a heart became available.
With a serious shortage of donated organs, some people wait years to receive a heart transplant. In fact, around 3,500 Americans are on the heart transplant waiting list at any given time, and they are usually critically ill or die by the time one becomes available.
Sam was deteriorating right in front of his family’s eyes, but all they could do was pray and wait. His case was particularly difficult because they had to wait for a heart that was the perfect size and blood type. Jane will never forget the day she got the news.
“His primary doctor came up and told me he had a transplant,” Jane said in an interview. “I think that was the biggest shock for me like, wow,” she added. “It almost was so unreal.”
Sam was admitted for surgery the very next day. Meanwhile, Tammy and Chester had just received the news about their daughter, and their lives were falling apart.
“As I watched his chest rise my heart got heavy. God bless the family who chose to donate this precious gift of life to my baby boy,” Jane wrote on Facebook.
Thankfully, Sam’s surgery was a success. Jane immediately saw a difference in his condition when he was wheeled out of the operating room. She couldn’t believe her eyes.
Before going in for the heart transplant, Jane had noticed that her son’s skin had been a blue-grey color as a result of not receiving enough oxygenated blood.
When he was returned from the operating room, Jane immediately noticed the color of his skin. “My first reaction was his color,” Jane recalled. “When I looked at him, his color was amazing!”
Soon after he was revived, Sam’s breathing improved and his oxygen rose up to normal levels – all thanks to Linzie’s heart.
“We will forever be grateful for the selfless act, for the family who saved our son’s life,” Jane said. “Always have faith, because miracles do happen.” In fact, Jane made it her mission to find out who had donated their heart to her son.
Jane found out who had donated their organs through a non-profit organization, the United Network for Organ Sharing. Days after the transplant, she found Linzie’s obituary in the local paper and read her funeral announcement.
She learned all about the young woman and how giving she’d been in life until it was suddenly snuffed out forever. Her heart broke for the McRae family. She wanted to do something.
Jane had been waiting for the right moment to contact the McRae family to express her gratitude for their daughter’s final selfless act, but she didn’t want to approach them so soon after their loss.
In the meantime, she told Sam about the girl whose heart he had, and he insisted on visiting her at the cemetery. Finding the plot number wasn’t hard. But now, she was face-to-face with Linzie’s mother.
Tammy listened to Jane’s story and felt a wave of emotion hit her. After months, the pain of losing her daughter was not as sharp – now, it felt like a dull, heavy ache she carried with her everywhere.
Everything reminded her of Linzie. Now, the little boy standing in front of her was literally carrying a piece of her and keeping it alive. She didn’t know how to feel.
Grief comes in waves. Tammy had been holding it together that day for the first time in months, but suddenly the wave crashed over her, threatening to completely engulf her.
Linzie’s beautiful heart had been a perfect match for Sam. If it weren’t for her, he wouldn’t be here. Tammy, who had been completely silent until now, asked a question.
Tammy couldn’t quite wrap her head around the situation. The sudden loss had been so hard to accept in the first place, now she knew Linzie was, in a sense, still with her.
“May I hear it?” Tammy asked through the tears, “May I listen to her heart?” Sam nodded, so she knelt down and placed her ear against his little chest. She closed her eyes.
And there it was. The quick, strong thud… thud… thud of Linzie’s heart. Tammy lost herself in its rhythm. She let it soothe her searing pain like a cool balm. For the first time in months, she had a sense that everything would be okay.
“She loved to share, so part of her life and giving some of it to Sam and other children is part of who she was,” she said, smiling.
Tammy contacted the United Network for Organ Sharing to learn who had received Lindzie’s other organs. It turned out that her daughter had saved eight other lives with her organs the day she died.
Two people had her lungs, another had her liver, and others had various other vital pieces of her. The McRaes met all of them, but they felt closest to Sam, the little boy who had her heart.
Tammy and Chester had forgotten that their daughter had signed up to be an organ donor before passing and couldn’t believe she’d saved so many lives. “It’s truly the circle of life in its rawest form,” Tammy said, “she could never let a soul suffer if she could do something about it. That’s our Linzie.”
But Tammy and Chester weren’t the only ones who had recently experienced a loss. Pete Richford was visiting the grave of his loved one when he noticed an unexpected visitor. It was a dog, and nobody knew why it refused to leave the gravesite.
He stood against the growing breeze, watching as thick storm clouds gathered above the cemetery. He wiped his tears and sniffled, saying goodbye before the rain caught him on the open field.
He turned to leave but heard a dog whine somewhere among the many tombstones. Against his better judgment, he moved to investigate. What he found made him freeze in place.
Pete Richford was a young lecturer from North Carolina. At thirty-two, he’d achieved everything he’d set out to do in his life.
He had a great job, a perfect romantic life, and friends that supported him through everything he did. But despite his achievements, Pete had done something that most people his age rarely did.
Although Pete had made some really impressive steps in his life, he still lived next to his childhood home. A native of the town where he lived, Pete had the most beautiful relationship with his dad.
He’d grown up without a mom, with his dad taking on the role of mother and father. Now that he was grown up, he couldn’t picture a life away from his old man. But that was about to change.
It was a freezing night when Pete got a call from his dad, who’d been sick throughout the year. Although he sounded stronger on the call, something within Pete screamed at him to cross the street to check on him.
But Pete didn’t, choosing instead to hold the conversation over the phone. They talked for hours, his dad telling him how proud of him he was. Then Pete returned to sleep, unaware of what was about to happen.
Pete’s next call was from his dad’s caretaker in the morning, informing him she’d found his dad unresponsive. The hospital had declared him dead on arrival.
Pete couldn’t believe it. He was numb throughout the day, and as the weeks rolled by, all he could think about was how he spent his last moments with him on the phone instead of going to him. He had no idea what fate had in store for his future.
Guilt and missing his dad glued Pete to his dad’s grave. He’d thought the first few weeks after his passing were hard, but the months that followed were grueling.
Pete was talking to his dad that fateful afternoon when he noticed a storm rolling in. He wiped his wet eyes and got ready to leave. And that’s when he heard it.
The sound was a low whine which Pete immediately knew was coming from a dog. He cast his eyes around the cemetery, searching for the animal.
The dog whined again, and Pete began looking around the tombstones. He knew many dogs loved spending time with their late owners. He couldn’t let such the poorl creature be caught in the brewing storm.
A raindrop fell on his forehead as he hurried about, telling him he had to search faster. “Where are you,” Pete called out, frustration welling within him.
He felt compelled to at least shelter the dog from the rain. Maybe it would be a good start for not being there for his dad.
Frustrated, Pete stopped in his tracks. He held his knees, his eyes stinging with tears. I cannot fail again, he thought. He let out a troubled exhale and continued searching.
Pete doubled his efforts. Dark rain already blanketed the horizon. He listened closely to the dog’s whine, knowing it was distressed because of the encroaching storm.
Pete moved across the cemetery until he found the poor dog. She’d curled under a burrow next to one of the tombstones.
“Hey there, buddy,” Pete said, going to his knees. He wiped his eyes as a smile took his face. “A nasty storm’s coming,” he said as he stretched his hand to the dog. “Wanna come with?”
The dog, a tagless golden retriever, barked at Pete. “Is that a yes?” he asked, his smile broadening without his knowledge. “My car is that way,” he jutted his chin toward the cemetery’s gate.
“Not far at all,” he said. He looked over his shoulder, seeing the storm was now closer. “Come,” he urged, and the dog followed his instruction. But as she got up, he saw what she’d been protecting.
Curled into the dog’s belly was a litter of the cutest puppies Pete had ever seen. The past few months had been hell for him, and for the first time in all this time, his heart swelled with so much joy it pained him.
“We’re all going,” Pete said quickly, slowly reaching out to the dog and her four puppies. He cradled the pups when he was sure she was okay with him helping her. But then the worst thing happened.
A hail of raindrops assaulted the cemetery, pattering with ferocity. Pete and the dog tore through the building rain to his car.
He removed his jacket and placed the puppies in it, taking them to the backseat. Their mom joined them, barking in thanks as the rains finally fell in full fury. But that wasn’t the end of it.
Pete took out his phone and called his girlfriend, telling her what’d happened. She’d been one of the only pillars keeping him sane throughout his grieving period, and he wanted to share this news with her.
Catie, Pete’s girlfriend, was more than thrilled when Pete told her what he’d found. She even asked for photos of the bundle of joy. But would she be open to what Pete was thinking?
When Pete saw the dog and her puppies, he knew he wanted to keep them. When he shared this with his girlfriend, she agreed instantly.
The two named the dog Ciri after a beloved princess from one of Pete’s dad’s favorite fantasy novels. Although it would take Pete more time to fully heal from losing his dad, at least he had new family members to help him through the process.