Flickering my eyelids under the harsh hospital lights, I began to wake up after the nine-hour surgery. The beeping monitors on the recovery ward reminded me where I was. Blinking, I saw my two daughters sitting anxiously beside me.
‘Mum! You’re awake!’ cried Marni, 13.
‘How are you feeling?’ asked Lavinia, 17.
Smiling weakly, I already felt better than I had in months. Before my liver transplant, I’d been desperately hoping for a match. It had been a horrendous wait and we were all aware that time was running out for me.
But now, as I lay in hospital with my two girls by my side, I was ready to grab life with both hands. My donor had given me the gift of life.
‘I’ll forever be grateful to that kind stranger,’ I sobbed, so thankful I’d made it through the operation.
Months passed as I continued to recover while juggling life as a single mum.
I’d been divorced from the girls’ dad for 10 years and although I was content with it being us three, I couldn’t stop thinking about one person in particular – my first husband, Glenn, who I’d met aged 25 and divorced more than two decades earlier.
There’s nothing like major surgery to make you realise what’s important!
Glenn had been my first love, but after a miscarriage, our relationship had broken down. We weren’t on bad terms, we were just young and we’d grown apart. One night, after two years as husband and wife, I’d packed my things and left.
Now I couldn’t stop thinking about him.After enjoying two years of good health, I knew I had to act. Seize the day! I told myself.
Apart from a fleeting ‘hello’ in a cafe 10 years earlier, I hadn’t seen this guy for more than 20 years.
Searching Facebook for his name, I found him and saw he was 45, had two boys and was divorced. I added him as a friend and quickly fired off a message.
Glenn, it’s been a while. How’s things?
The next morning, I eagerly opened my computer like an excited teenager and found that he’d replied.
Jane, so lovely to hear from you. What’s going on with you?
We chatted for hours online and the next day we met for coffee. The day after that, we went out for dinner. It was like no time had passed. And best of all,
there was a spark!
Soon enough, we were back together.
I was nervous to introduce Glenn to the girls, but they all got on well.
‘Glenn, move in with us,’ I said after six months. ‘Life’s too short.’
‘I’ve always loved you Jane,’ he said, agreeing. ‘I’ve known for a long time that we should never have broken up, but I know we can’t look back.’
Soon, he had moved in and we began making plans to build a house together, so that his sons, Connor, 17, and Thomas, 14, could live with us too.
In 2018, Glenn and I went on holiday to the Gold Coast and took an evening cruise. I realised that I’d never been happier in all my life.
When the singer began my favourite song, Ed Sheeran’s Perfect, I beamed at Glenn. But to my surprise, he got down on one knee.
Then he proposed – for the second time!
‘Jane, we’re so lucky we’ve been given another chance,’ he said, presenting a beautiful engagement ring. ‘I’ve loved you all these years. Will you marry me – again?’
‘Yes!’ I cried, as Glenn took my hand and slid on the ring.
For the rest of the night, I couldn’t help touching it. I couldn’t quite believe what had happened.
I was going to re-marry my ex hubby 26 years after the first time!
In April this year, we wed in our hometown with our children by our side.
Walking down the aisle to my husband-to-be, I almost had to pinch myself. Many only dream of having a second chance with their first love.
Lying in that hospital bed more than three years earlier, waiting for that transplant operation, I never could have dreamed how my life would change for the better.
On our big day, it was important to thank the person who had lost their life and so generously saved mine by their donation.
We made sure to pay tribute to my donor at the wedding – without him, I never would have reached out to Glenn again.
He will always be a part of our story.
Now, we are putting finishing touches to the house Glenn and I built so that we can have our whole family together.
As I wake up each morning, I’m so very glad that I got that second chance at love. ●
This year's DonateLife Week runs from Sunday, July 28 to Sunday, August 4. Australians are encouraged to register to be an organ and tissue donor and to have a conversation about it with their family and friends. Visit donatelife.gov.au for more information.