‘Your hand is dying, you need a bone transplant.’ Only then did my mom remember my dad’s bones

“Halfway home I asked to stop for a drink. Then afterward I hopped in the backseat to read a book to my brother. And that’s what saved me. Because the wreck happened a few miles down the road. The entire front of our car was crushed.

My first thought was my hands. I had a piano competition coming up, so I looked down at my hands. One of them started to crumble before my eyes. I was taken in an ambulance. My brother was taken in a helicopter. But Dad never regained consciousness.

Dad lifting his baby daughter
Humans of New York

He lived such a big life. His name was Kash. He was an Olympic-caliber skier. He flew jets in the Air Force. But oh man, he was such a good dad. Whenever I was asked to name my best friend—I’d say my dad. That’s how close we were.

He died too quickly to salvage his organs. But everything else was donated: his eyes, his tissues, his ligaments. We have a list of fifty people whose lives he changed. The only thing my Mom reserved was his bone.

Dad and daughter flying a kite.
Humans of New York

She doesn’t remember why– but she asked them to set aside some bone. I felt so angry after his death. But in that selfish, teenage way. My life had been so perfect.

Dad and daughter funny pic moment.
Humans of New York

Now my dad was gone. And I couldn’t even play piano. Piano had been such a huge part of my identity. It was also my stress relief. But all the bones in my left hand were pulverized, and whenever I tried to play with my right, I’d just end up crying.

I went through surgery after surgery. Hardware was put in, hardware was taken out, but nothing worked. Finally the doctors told me: ‘Your hand is dying, and the only thing left to try is a bone transplant.’

Her dad being recognized for his life-saving organ donations.
Humans of New York

Only then did my mother remember my father’s bones. When we grafted his bone onto my wrist, the blood started to flow. My hand came back to life. And I could play again.

Even now, seventeen years later, and with four kids of my own, piano is such a big part of my life. I play at church. And even though we have a shoebox of a house, we have a piano. In our living room we keep a photo album of my dad.

Grown up daughter by the piano.
Humans of New York

We talk about him all the time: what he did, who he was. I hate that he never got to meet my kids, but they know him. They call him ‘Papa Kash.’ And we know Papa Kash is somewhere else right now. But he’s also very alive in this house.”

About the author:
This story first appeared on Humans of New York Facebook page and is published here with permission. For more amazing stories and photography buy the book HUMANS by Brandon Stanton.

(If you wish to submit an essay (reflections on life), personal story (inspirational or humorous) or something that you witnessed that inspired you, please go HERE.)

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