Open letter to a stranger.

Dear Sir,

In exactly two weeks I celebrate my 41st birthday. I’ve always had a bit of a thing for birthdays. They act as a perfect excuse for some of my favourite things – like good company, great food and lots of silliness.

My 33rd birthday was a very different affair. Friends gathered at our home and there were lots of thoughtful gifts, kind remarks and hugs that lasted slightly longer than normal. We all smiled, laughed and celebrated but there was a tangible uncertainty hanging in the air – the proverbial elephant in the room.

We never met. I have no idea whether you enjoyed blowing out the candles on your cake or hated birthdays with a passion. You may have been a husband, father, brother or uncle. Perhaps you spent your time walking in the Scottish highlands. Maybe you loved nothing more than a night in front of the telly with a glass of wine. It’s quite odd, sharing a close and unbreakable bond with a total stranger.

I have a lot to thank you for. Thanks to you I have competed in the York 10k and followed the excitement of the 2012 British Olympics with great joy. Walking at Malham Cove and White Horse at Sutton Bank.  Dashing upstairs for a forgotten jacket and hurrying for a bus as I see it coming round the corner. I run my own business, doing work I love for fantastic and inspiring clients; some of whom have become lifelong friends. None of this would be possible without your generous act.

Finally, you gave me the greatest gift of all. The gift of time. Time to spend with my husband, family and friends. Time to see them grow and take great strides, time to be able to support them in their periods of hurt. Time to be a wife, daughter, sister and friend.

Today is the seven year anniversary of your gift. This year we returned to a favourite little Italian restaurant of ours. Ate too much food, cried a little, laughed a lot. You were in our thoughts, as you are every year. I guess that when you signed that donor card you never imagined it would be needed. But it was an action that would go on to make you a life saver. Today is the anniversary of the day that you saved my life.

We never met. Thank you for taking the brave decision to be an organ donor. Thank you for entrusting your precious heart to a total stranger. I will do my best to keep taking good care of it. In two weeks time I celebrate another birthday. I intend to make the most of it.


donor cardIf you are interested in learning more about registering to be an organ donor please visit the NHS UK website.

10 thoughts on “Open letter to a stranger.

  1. Victoria

    A wonderful piece Claire. I am sure your donors family would be happy you celebrate and live life to the fullest.

    1. Claire

      I try Victoria! Meeting people like you in my work is something I find inspiring. So many people out there working hard to create something that has meaning and purpose. It keeps me going every day. x

  2. Diane

    You’ve touched my heart. You are beautiful and brave Claire. x

    1. Claire

      Thank you for your kindness and friendship Di. 🙂

  3. Sally Williamson

    Claire this is beautiful. It is very open and honest. It made me cry but made me sit up and take note. To live everyday with love, passion honesty and undetstanding. I need to remeber to feel grateful every single day. Xx

    1. Claire

      Thank you Sally. If I can persuade just one person to register as a donor my work is done. We all have our reasons to be grateful but it can be difficult to remember that with our modern lives. x

  4. Claire cutler-casey

    Beautifully articulated, I carry a donor card and always ask others to consider why they should. Happy Birthday Claire, it’s a pleasure to know you so I extend my thanks to that unknown stranger too X

    1. Claire

      Thank you Claire, and thank you for carrying the card.

  5. Dee

    Made me cry Claire. What a lovely piece of writing. Have you thought about sending it to the donors family ? I’m sure they’d be so glad to read it. Big hug . Dee xx

    1. Claire

      Thanks Dee. I think this is probably the first step towards writing something on a more private level that I will send to the family one day. It has been so hard finding the right words. xx

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