Sixteen year old me is still in there somewhere. I know because I feel it. Sixteen year old me can still feel the butterflies in my stomach when he held my hand. She can remember how it felt to be wrapped in his arms. She remembers how hearing him say, “I love you,” would make her heart jump. She remembers the silly fights and the resulting silly break ups that would last a day, and she remembers the last time we got back together when he said, “This is forever. You’re the one for me.” She remembers the joy of making ‘those plans’ for the future. And she remembers coming home from work on a Tuesday night with dozens of text messages from his sisters – her best friends – and hearing her mom say, “why don’t you sit down, so we can talk. There’s been an accident.” And because she remembers, so does 24 year old me, and so will 80 year old me.
I’m married now. Not to him, but to a man who is nonetheless perfect for me. Jesse was my first love, though, and if he hadn’t died, my life would probably look a whole lot different than it does today. But if he hadn’t died, then he wouldn’t have been able to give to the more than 80 people in the way that he did…because Jesse was an organ donor. He loved the Lord more than anything, and I’m sure, as He stood in the presence of Jesus, he was glad to know that the body he left behind helped so many people.
On New Year’s Day 2016, Jesse’s parents will walk in the Rose Parade alongside the Donate Life America float. It’s not something any parent hopes for, but it will be such an awesome way to honor him, his life, and his gift. Afterward they will get to attend the Rose Bowl football game and watch the Iowa Hawkeyes – Jesse’s favorite team.
I miss Jesse – his goofy personality, his laugh, his friendship. Sixteen year old me learned a lot from him, and I’ll remember him on New Years Day as I watch the game, just like I remember him every other day of the year.