On March 2, 2016, my 11-year-old brother was hit by a truck while crossing the street. The trauma knocked him unconscious, and the damage to his brain quickly stopped his breathing. Paramedics gave him CPR and doctors helped him breathe, but it was clear that he wasn't coming back.
Because of his condition, we asked about the possibility of donating part of him to help others. Its what he would have wanted, being the person that he was, and if you are the lucky child who gets his heart, you should know what you can expect.
Eric's heart was the biggest part of him. He loved more than normal people. He seemed to have an extra portion of vitality and capacity to love than most of us have. Maybe he knew, somehow, that he wouldn't have as much time as the rest of us, and he was determined to get as much living done as he could.
Eric loved life.
In the summer he begged to go swimming, in the winter he wanted to go sledding. When I went to adopt my dog he came with me and rode with her all the way home. He had a childlike optimism and tenaciousness when it came to family. He loved spending time together and enjoying each other's company.
Your life has been difficult. Sometimes you might wonder if it is worth carrying on, that the pain is too much or the effort too great. Remember that now you have his heart. Be optimistic and tenacious, life is great for those who choose to live it.
Eric loved people.
His teachers adored him, his friends worshipped him, and his family admired him. He knew how to push people to be their best, to encourage them to reach higher and think bigger. He was a light to everyone who knew him because they knew how much he cared.
Sometimes it is hard for you to love. People do stupid things. Sometimes you feel alone and without a friend to lean on. Eric loved others and it made them love him. Remember that your heart is his heart, and you can love everyone. Teach them to reach above the clouds by believing in them, and they will love you too.
Eric loved to win.
Many family gatherings were spent playing games around the table. He always wanted to be a part of the game, even if he had never played before. He wasn't afraid to lose, he just loved playing the game.
It might feel like losing is all you can expect from life, and winning isn't in the cards. Remember that if you don't play the game, you will never win. You have to love playing and winning enough to not be afraid of losing. Your heart wants to win, and the only way to win is to keep on playing.
If you are lucky enough to have his heart, remember what a privilege and responsibility you carry in your chest. I hope it feels a little heavier, he will make it feel a little lighter. We thank you, because his heart beats inside of you. Because of you, a piece of him keeps on living.
The rest of us are lucky, too. He gave us something special, his love and memory. Everyone who met him or hears his story will carry that for life. He taught us that we can all love life, love people, and love winning a little more. Love is a part of him that all of us can share.
Inside each of us, his heart beats on.
We love you buddy, and we will be together again!
If you would like to make a donation in Eric's memory, consider the Primary Children's Hospital. They give life, hope and solace to thousands of children and their families. Their experienced care and quick action helps children like Eric bless thousands. Whatever you choose, make sure to hug a little tighter, love a little stronger, and stand a little taller. Enjoy a special moment with your family. I promise you won't regret it.
This post originally appeared on Medium.