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17/12/2018 / Harry Browne


Winning entry for the Inkslingers Christmas Story Competition

Dear Linda,
Light snowflakes fall from a threatening sky and tip off the window as I sit at my desk putting thoughts into words. What an incredible 12 months it has been since last Christmas. Now that we’re on the cusp of another, I feel compelled to write what’s on my mind.

There were so many highlights: My parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, siblings and cousins marked milestone birthdays, a big party was held for me when I returned from the hospital – all great occasions where so many wellwishers wanted to shake my hand. I felt so humbled.

The biggest thrill, though, came on a sweltering day in May when Mia made her First Holy Communion. Oh Linda, she was stunning. Her framed picture is hanging on the wall in front of me as I write. The cheeky grin. The freckles dotting her nose. The purest skin. The flowing blond locks hanging down over narrow shoulders. And then, of course, the white silk dress adorned with the most beautiful design.

Her mam and I are still paying back the money to the Credit Union. But the whole day was worth every cent. I could never put a price on the happiness it evoked within me. It’s a memory I’ll treasure forever.

Outside the church as camera phones clicked in a frenzy, Mia whispered in my ear: ‘Daddy, I knew you wouldn’t die. I knew you’d walk with me into the church on my big day. I told you’.

A lump is forming in my throat as I write these words even now. It was a day I thought I’d never see. And I wouldn’t have Linda, only for you. Because last Christmas, you gave me your heart. Quite literally. Through organ donation, you bestowed on me the ultimate gift, one person could ever give another. The embers of my life were slowly fading until you rekindled them with your timely intervention.

I was never told your name. Confidentiality and all that. They said you were a young woman who died in a traffic accident. But I just had to give you a name. I couldn’t go through the rest of my life referring to you as ‘anonymous’ with your priceless gift beating under my shirt. You deserved more than that. So much more. I eventually settled on Linda. I dearly hope you approve.

Mia and her brother Jack are in the kitchen now helping their mam make the Christmas dessert. I brought them to see Santa yesterday. They still haven’t come down off the buzz. And either have I. The radio is on in the background. They’re playing our song. George Michael is singing ‘Last Christmas’ and I’m indulging in a little poetic licence with the lyrics… ‘Last Christmas, you gave me your heart..’

I’ll sign off for now Linda but will write again. And tomorrow at Christmas Mass I’ll search for the biggest candle I can find and light it in your memory.

Sleep well Linda. Sleep well. Wherever you may be!



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