Our Heart

By Rebecca West

For the What We Talk About When We Talk About Love Award


Dear……….This is the part where I would write your name, except I don’t know it. I asked at the hospital but they wouldn’t tell me, citing patient confidentiality.

Sir/madam seems too formal, yet friend too flippant…….

Dear lifesaver and hero; my hero.

I’m writing to tell you I love you. I love you with all of my heart; well technically it’s your heart. Or it was until you gave it to me.

I don’t know what happened to you, I asked, but the medical staff wouldn’t say. Whatever it was must have been terrible to have cut your life short. I don’t know how short – I know nothing about you.

It’s a strange thing to love someone you don’t know. I know people meet online and fall in love, but we have never even spoken. I’ve never seen your face, I don’t know your name, where you grew up, or if you had any siblings or kids, what you liked to do for fun, or what your favourite food was. I’d like to know these things, to know a little something about the person I’m eternally grateful to.

You see I had medical problems – I won’t bore you with the details. But I needed a new heart, mine was failing. It seemed so ironic, everyone has always said I had a big heart, and it was a big heart – full of passion, it just didn’t work properly when it came down to the mechanics. Thankfully my life limiting problems are behind me, now I have your heart beating in my chest.

I suppose in a lot of ways I’d taken things for granted, I guess it’s the invincibility of youth. I’d seen or read about terrible things happening but assumed it would never happen to me. I can assure you that illusion has been totally shattered. I now know how fragile life is, and while I’m now fully aware of my own mortality, I’m also taking every opportunity that comes my way. I feel I owe that to the both of us.

I guess what I’m trying to say, is that through this experience I have a new understanding of life and love. I tell my family often what they mean to me, I appreciate my friends more now than I ever have. People who know me would have said I loved life before, but now I love it to the extreme, seeing wonder in the world around me every day. Isn’t it funny how nearly losing everything makes you realise what you have.

I know you won’t get this letter, I can’t even send it to your family, I don’t know who they are. But I want you to know that your gift to me, a total stranger, is the best gift I have ever received, and for that I love you more than you will ever know.

I guess that’s a silly thing to say, after all, you of all people would know how fiercely your heart can love.