He Doesn’t Have a Heart

I held my son last night.  Held and rocked his cold body.  He felt no colder than had we taken a walk and the breeze was blowing on his face.

In the minutes before going down to see him, I was so scared.  I wasn’t sure if I wanted to see him … completely lifeless.  But I had to try.  If I gave up, I was afraid I would never forgive myself.

We made the long walk down to the third floor, winding through hallways and corridors.  We walked into the recovery room and into a side room.  There was Annette, the Donor Network Coordinator.  She was standing alone in a low lit room, holding my pale, lifeless child.  What an amazing woman … to hold him.  She was swaying side to side and greeted us with a smile.

Pastor was right, the fear of seeing him evaporated at the first sight of him.  I walked directly to Annette and took Owen into my arms.  I sat in the corner in a rocking chair and took off the goofy hat they had on his head.  His hair would have been red.  He was wrapped in his baptismal blanket.  Given to the Lord for the second time.

Pastor read a book about a child’s first conversation with God — from the womb til death.  I listened at first but zoned out into my own world.  Just me and Owen again.  Gazing at his face, talking with him as if he were sleeping.  Rubbing his hair and holding him close to my chest.  I felt like I could talk to him freely now that the battle had been fought.

I cried.  It felt good to cry … I didn’t want the tears to stop.  I want to cry every second for the next days … let all the hurt and pain out so I don’t have to feel it.  Like turning on the faucet to get rid of the rust in the pipes.  Run the water long enough, the water will run clear again.

I couldn’t help but think of how he was empty.  I tried to see if he felt lighter.  Was careful not to squeeze him too tight for fear he would collapse.

Reality set in.  Not only has his heart stopped, but it’s missing from his chest.  No miracle or act of God could save my Owen.  This was irreversible.  The finger of God would not be pointing down on Owen and granting him a miracle.  I mean I knew he wasn’t coming back.  I believed that with all of my being.  But once I hold him without his heart, I was changed.  It was the first final statement that I had to accept.  It made me want to panic … to try to undo all that had happened over the past week.  He was really, truly gone

I now live in denial.

While in the room, Doug and I took turns being strong and weak.  He held me up when I wanted to crumble.  Soon it was time.  It was late and time for Owen to go to rest.  Doug reached for the door to call a nurse as he wasn’t sure how to work the sides of the crib (how to pull them up).  I looked at him … Doug, we can just lay him down, he’s not going to roll over and out of bed.  A first of many thoughts that we will catch ourselves in.

Then we went home with our families.  The night had come to a close.  It was beautiful.  It was sad.  It was an end.

Love, Mel


  1. You are a brave and strong woman, a good mom for Owen, and the other boys. How difficult and how beautiful those last moments must have been. Memories for a lifetime. He lives on in those 3 recipients and in the hearts of many-including mine. I am a member of Ascension and plan to go to church to honor your son’s life. Rest in peace baby Owen.

  2. My heart breaks for your family. I found your blog from a friend’s posting on Thursday. I have been thinking about your family, and praying for you often since then. There are no words to say, just know your sweet Owen has touched many lives, including mine as well as my family. My thoughts and prayers will be with your family.

  3. A Child of Mine

    I”ll lend you for a little time
    a Child of Mine, He said,
    For you to love the while he lives
    and mourn for when he’s dead.

    It may be six or seven years
    or twenty-two or three
    But will you, till I call him back,
    take care of him for me?
    He’ll bring his charms to gladden you
    and should his stay be brief,
    You’ll have his lovely memories
    as solace for your grief.

    I cannot promise he will stay
    since all from earth return,
    But there are lessons taught down here,
    I want this child to learn.

    I’ve looked this wide world over
    in search of teachers true
    And from the throngs that crowd Life’s lane
    I have decided You.

    Now will you give him all your love
    nor think the labor vain
    And hate Me when I come to call
    to take him back again?

    I fancy that I heard them say
    Dear Lord, Thy Will be done.
    For all the joy this child will bring
    the risk of grief we’ll run,

    We’ll shelter him with tenderness
    we’ll love him while we may
    And for the Happiness we’ve known
    forever grateful stay.

    And should the angels call for him
    much sooner than we planned
    We’ll brave the bitter grief that came
    and try to understand. 
    ~ Edgar Guest

    Your story has touched me and has broken my heart. May the Lord heal you and may you take
    comfort in your memories. This poem I read at my brothers funeral when he died at a young age. I hope it helps a bit. Much love and prayers.

  4. To Those I Loved – Author Unkown

    When I am gone let me go, release me.
    I have so many things to do and see.

    You mustn’t tie yourself to me with tears,
    Be happy that we had so many years.

    I gave you my love, you can only guess-
    How much you gave me in happiness.

    I thank you for the love you each have shown,
    But now it’s time I travel alone.

    So grieve awhile that we must part-
    And bless the memories within your heart.

    I won’t be far away, for life goes on.
    So, if you need me , call and I will come.

    Though you can’t see or touch me – I’ll be near
    and if you listen with your heart, you’ll hear
    all my love around you soft and clear.

    And then, when you must come this way alone,
    I’ll greet you with a smile, and say “Welcome Home”

    My heart breaks for you and your family when i read your words but i am amazed and encouraged and inspired by your strength and wisdom. I look down at my own baby boy and cuddle him just that little bit tighter and that little bit longer. With much love for you and Owen and your family.


  5. I sit here wanting to say something, but there is not a single thing that comes to mind. There are no words I can say that will take any of this hurt away. There are no words I can say that can make those pipes run clear again. Just know I’m thinking about you & praying for comfort & healing for you.

  6. Sweet Warrior, keep your Mommy, Daddy, brothers, friends and family wrapped in your warm embrace. Your little arms are now big enough to hold them all…

  7. I am so very sorry for the loss of your sweet Owen. He’ll always be with you, though I know not at all in the way that you wanted. Based on my own loss, I can imagine that this is a time of shock and desperation, and my hope is that you’ll be able to find some peace amid the pain as you continue to love and honor sweet Owen. Your love for Owen is clear and that is something you’ll always have. I’ll be thinking of you and your family.

  8. Mel and Family,

    I learned of your blog and family through your friend and my cousin Sarah. I have followed all week and cried and prayed with you. The coming days will be difficult, but I hope you find some peace soon. Thank you for your willingness to share your story and strength with me. You are the model of a mother to me. All mothers have a link, as only we know the intense passion one can feel for their child. Your strength through this trial is admirable and something I will continue to strive for even in the small daily trials we all encounter. This week when my family donated to the Miracle Network, it was not only for our own daughter, but for Owen as well. I know how special your family is through Sarah’s stories and her passion for your children. Thank you for selflessly giving your child as a gift to so many others through your story and the gift of life. May God grant you peace and rest.


  9. A beautiful and touching song by Craig Cardiff called ‘Smallest Wingless’

    Dear son, we’ve been waiting for you
    Thrilled beside ourselves that you’ve arrived
    White coats came in, heads held low
    Talked for a bit, shuffled outside

    We closed the curtains,
    Held each other,
    And cried
    We said hello at the same time that we said goodbye.

    And smallest wingless, oh you came to us
    Leaving as soon as you’d arrived
    But sadness is just love wasted
    With no heart to place it inside

    We closed the curtains,
    Held each other,
    And cried
    We said hello at the same time that we said goodbye.

    We closed the curtains
    Held on to one another
    And cried
    We said hello at the same time that we said goodbye.

    • Thank you for posting these lyrics. When I had my last child in Dec of 2008. A photogragher put a video together and used this song to show the pictures. My 2 other children love to listen to it in celebration of the brother they lost. They have asked for it to be placed on their MP3 and ipods but….. I didn’t know who it was sung by.

  10. I am praying for your family. Owen has touched many, even beyond those he was able to donate to. Thank you for sharing your precious boy with us.

  11. Bissing Family,
    I am so sorry for your loss. I wish I could take away this pain. No one will ever take away your memories, you can cherish and share them forever!
    I thank you for sharing so deeply on this blog. You are a strong family that will go thru this together and have so many people here for you when you need it. Your witness to the Lord and love for Him has made my faith even stronger. You have left a mark on so many people with your courageousness, openness and faithfulness. I am not sure you realize the depth of it.
    Here are words to a song that give me encouragement and a reminder everyday that I am not alone, ever, even when I feel alone. Just remember, when you feel alone, that is God’s way of reminding you that he is with you always and is looking for some ‘alone’ time with just you. Let Him carry you and comfort you.

    As you go on your way, may Christ go with you
    May He go before you to show you the way
    May He go behind you to encourage you
    beside you to befriend you
    above you to watch over
    within you to give you peace.

    Peace to you and your family.

  12. I struggle to find what to say through my tears, but moved enough to make sure and post something. There are so many things that you want to say and yet at the same time, I wish I could just reach out and give you the biggest hug and make all of these events over the past week disappear; unfortunately…I can’t. I admire your strength shining through in your weakest of moments. I love your ability to show wear your emotions, feelings and life through words; it will help you for many, many days, months and years to come. There is nothing that anyone can say to help or make you feel better; but hopefully throughout your use of words you are able to release some of the feelings and make the burden a little lighter. From my family to yours; we send hugs and kisses and best of wishes to you all!

  13. Mel- I do not know you but I found your story from a friend. My heart has broken after learning of your little Owen. I pray for you and your family. Your strength is powerful for all who read this. Your little boy, Owen, lives on and my thoughts and prayers will be constant for a long time for you and your family. There are no words to say. Just know in your heart that we are all praying for you and thinking of you from now on! And we are all sharing your tears. I can’t stop crying and WILL NOT stop praying for you.

  14. I sit here with a lump in my throat and tears running down my face. Your family has been in my thoughts since I first found out about the situation on Thursday.

    Thank you so much for sharing Owens story with us. I said it the other day, you are one amazingly strong momma. Owen (and all your boys) are incredibly luckly to have you as their momma.

    I am so sorry for your loss.

  15. I am so sorry for you loss. The gift you gave is amazing and hopefully knowing that Owens heart is beating in someone else today will give you a small bit of comfort.

  16. You said it best yourself. This was beautiful and sad. And it’s the beginning of a journey you will have to walk. Thank you for sharing this journey with us, for allowing us to “come along” and support you.

    Owen is so lucky to have you both as his parents.

  17. Owen is the luckiest little warrior out there! What amazing parents he has! You are so brave to share your story and allow all of us into your family. Thank you for reminding me how precious my children are. When I get frustrated or lose my patience I think of your little Owen and he brings me back to a place where I can look at my boys and know they are just that little boys. May God and Owen comfort you forever!

  18. Owen………………… Onward Christian soldier. Continued prayers for God’s blessings of strength, comfort and peace. Love & hugs to you and your family!

  19. I am so sorry for your loss. I will continue to pray for your family. You have turned such an incredible loss into three miracles for others. Bless your hearts, Mel and Doug. Your heartfelt thoughts and prayers are an amazing testimony to all those who hear about Owen’s story. May the Lord lift your heavy hearts to once again sing His praises. You are an amazing woman living for Christ, and a wonderful mommy to all your boys. And, may you find peace that Owen is with his Jesus and watching over you and your family. Owen is where we all want to be; the angel just needed him sooner to accomplish his mission. God bless you and your family and may He give you the peace, strength and courage to go forth.

  20. I saw your link through Keira. I want to say how very sorry I am for your loss. I have twins and lost one as well. Your words touched the core of my soul and are filled with such raw love, hope and saddness. Keep breathing, keep moving, let yourself greive and receive love. Your boy and you are an inspiration to others. I will keep you all in my prayers.

  21. Praying, praying, praying….

    Praying that His love will flow over your family… through your hearts… and hold you tightly in the palm of His tender hands.

  22. I am screaming my prayers….”PLEASE GOD, comfort Melissa and Doug and their entire family. Give the them strength to endure and overcome this horrible pain. Please fill their void with love, hope and wonderful memories of their Angel Warrior. In your glorious name, Amen.”

  23. Thank you for sharing Owen with us. I don’t know either of you personally and I probably never will, but you and I are Sisters in Christ and both Moms of triplet boys and I feel connected to you because of that. I wish I could bear some of your grief for you. You are an amazing woman and Owen is an amazing little boy. I have been crying and thinking of y’all since I was led to your blog from MOST. I have shared Owen’s story with many and we have all been praying for you all. Your warrior has changed so many lives, as have your words. I pray for comfort, peace and healing for all of you. My family has been praying for all of you and we will continue to do so. We don’t know you, but we love you. God bless you all.

  24. I haven’t been able to think about anything but you and your family since Sarah told me this. You are a hero to me. The grace with you have handled this horrible situation makes me ashamed of myself for ever thinking I’m having a bad day. I will always remember your words and the beautiful way you’ve expressed the worst time in your life. I have 4 beautiful grandchildren. I tell them everytime i see them that I love them. I may be sill grandma but they will always know they were loved. Again, my prayers are with you.

  25. Mel and Family,
    You do not know me, I learned of your story from my friend Aimee… I have read all of your blogs and have cried and prayed with you…. I am a mother too and could not imagine how difficult this time is for you… My prayers are for your healing now… you are a pillar for your family and children, you are courageous and strong… May God grant you the strength to continue to be so… especially for your children, Owen was truly blessed to have a mother of your faith and Character. I have a brother named Owen, who not so long ago struggled with illness, and he fought his way through it, with God’s help… He is a Warrior too, just like your Owen…. Tell your children as they grow how special it is to have have a brother named Owen, they are God’s Warriors’….
    I have read so many other’s comments and wanted to tell you also, that your family is loved by so many that you have never met, and we are all praying for you and lifting your hearts up to the Lord, let him wrap his loving arms around all of you in this time of grief… and find comfort that Little Owen is in his loving arms… that he will never feel alone, he will never feel sadness, he will only feel love, and great joy… he will be with our Lord and Savior, waiting for you… You will be with him again, take comfort in that… He will keep you, and watch over you until the Lord calls you home….
    Let the Lord bless you and keep you, let his face shine on you and give you peace….
    God Bless..

  26. I am SOO sorry this has happened to you. I want you to know that there are People are praying for you through these tough times. I don’t know how it feels but I Promise that I feel the pain. You may not know me but I am keeping yOu in my prayers through these hard times.

  27. Please remember he does have a heart, the most perfect heart that is going to save another child. It is not fair that Owen died and I hate that fact more than anything because I know your pain. The death of a child is hell but he will come to you and he will let you know he is safe, I promise! From one mother who knows your pain- my prayers are with you!

  28. Hello Mel, Doug and the kiddo’s….
    My name is Laura and I stumbled across your story thru the Herrin Twins…
    Im so sorry for your loss…Im one of the ones who knows exactly what your going thru. I, too, lost a lil boy, Timothy. I had him in 94′ and lost him when he was 8 months old in 95′. His story is slightly different in the sense he was battling an Undiagnosed Disorder and 2 Congenital Heart Defects…Our story is similar in the sense that it was a “all of a sudden” happening,….We were down at C.S. Motts Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan when it happened…. He was undergoing a medical procedure and then he Coded….(for 45mins.) and then he came back….45 min, was to long for my lil man…later that night he coded a second time …That is when My family and I decided to “let him go.”
    Letting him go was the hardest decision I ever had to make in my life as you know all to well…. Its been almost 16 years since I had to say my goodbye’s… The first years were extremely rough. Heart breaking big time… I had that “was there something else I could have done, checked, mentioned…” type feeling for a long time and sometimes still to this day…. It has gotten easier thru the years.. Its not something you can “get over”… It doesn’t work that way. I’ve learned how to ride out the “waves” of grief so to speak,…. Some good strategies…some bad…
    The best thing to remember is to keep reaching out like you have been doing…Im so proud of you guys for doing that…thank you for allowing us to be apart of your family….An amazing story…Remember to stay patient with yourselves. One thing yu might find is that both you and Doug may grieve at the sametime and or different times and in different ways……Patience is the key like I mentioned…It sounds like you guys are doing well with the grieving part already…
    Unfortunetly we both belong to a club that no one wants to belong too(Parents of Angels)… Know that your not alone…Anytime you would like to chat ..when and if your ready please don’t be shy….
    Parts of grief will hit at different times, like the denial…Sometimes you may take 2 steps forward and then 3 steps back or vice-versa….I know , I know sounds difficult as hell..pardon the expression….I still have my bad days but the intensity is not as bad. It takes time, lots of time…. One thing that helped me in the beginning is talking with other Parents who have gone thru loosing a child like I had….Check your local hospital for Parent grieving groups plus for siblings…I know that ours had a group for the siblings …it was pretty cool in the sense that they did it thru Art ..good for youngsters…They have tons of groups online….”Compassionate Friends” is one…and many others… I realize this is a lot of info in a difficult time… I wanted to let you know that you guys aren’t alone and Im thinking about you folks big time…..If there is anything I can do please don’t hesitate… Take your time …this is on your terms when and if your ready with how you guys choose your journey….Don’t let anyone rush your family…One day, one hour, one second at a time,…… “Big Heart Hugs!!!!”
    Both of our kids have one thing in common and that is that they were the extreme Warriors….
    My e mail addy is Lauratwc@yahoo.com and Im on FB as well….

  29. I am so sorry for your loss. The gift of life you gave to others from this tragedy was a beautiful, generous, wonderful thing…hold on to the knowledge that Owen was put on this earth to save other lives, and part of him lives on in them, and through all of us he has touched.

  30. Dearest Mel,
    Thank you for sharing the story of your little warrior, Owen. You and your family are truly amazing to share his organs so that others can live through little Owens gift of life. May God hold you and your family in his arms and walk with you ,through the many difficult days ahead. God bless you !

  31. I am not a blog reader. I am a mother of 4 kids under 4 who had a tough day. I was looking for something, anything really, to take my mind off the kids when I came across your blog. I have to say, rather than distract me from the kids who gave me such a hard time, you have put my focus right back where is should be. In the 4 quiet rooms upstairs where my babies sleep soundly. I cried with you tonight as I read your stories, and have never felt more ungrateful for my own blessings. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for reminding me of how lucky I am and to not for one second take that for granted. I am so very sorry that you have gone through this experience and I shall think of you and your Owen whenever I find myself losing sight of what’s important in life. Thank you forever, and God bless your family.

  32. Owen was and still is truly blessed to have such a loving family. Im glad you got to spend some time with him in private for your last goodbyes. It will be a moment that will be with you forever. Your Owen will be the best little warrior angel baby there is. He will watching over his family from above until he can see you again. His heart lives on in another who needed his help. He was a miracle who touch so many. Thank you for sharing this with us. Your blog will be wonderful for Owen’s brothers when they are older.

  33. Dear Doug and Mel,
    I received your blog address from Owen’s grandmother today.
    It was very touching and emotional to read.
    You have been in our thoughts and prayers all week.
    In the midst of your fears and pain you managed to share your story with the world, and in so doing allowed the world to glimpse the emotional journey a loving parent must endure when faced with the loss of a child. May you continue to find strength in your faith, family, and friends.
    We are all so very sad for your loss but also very proud of your courage and generosity to turn your tragedy into the gift of life for someone else.
    May you always feel the embrace of God and Owens love in your life.

  34. My thoughts are with your family tonight.
    May Owen always be your bright shining star.

  35. Mel, I know we have been internet friends for close to 5 years now. We have not met face to face yet. But being a true friend, I will be driving down from Oshkosh to Waukesha on Wednesday to meet you and comfort you, cry with you, hug you and be a friend and a shoulder to lean on for you. You have been in my thoughts for a long time with the Owls and all and I have cried so much for you over the last week. God had His plans for Owen and The Little Warrior will forever in the hearts of the people whose lives his passing has touched. Lots of Love to you! See you Wednesday Mel!

  36. Lifting you up in prayer. Your strength and faith are unbelievable. I have never met you, yet I feel so proud of you. I will always carry the story of your little warrior with me, as a reminder of a Mother’s strength and eternal love for her children. I pray you find comfort and peace. I pray for a strong shoulder for you to weep on. I pray for someone to wipe your tears. I pray you are able to rest. I pray for support when you need it, and a quiet corner when you want it.

    I pray you feel Owen’s love wrapped all around you.

    I am grateful today was not as terrifying as you had anticipated, but sounds like it was very beautiful and loving.

    Dear God,
    Please wrap your loving arms around these brave and loving parents.

  37. I am praying for you and your entire family, including baby Owen. I am sending you hugs and strength and will be wearing orange on Wednesday in tribute to the wonderful little boy that he was and always will be in your heart.

  38. I came across your blog today after a friend posted a link to this post on Facebook. I just had to tell you that I am so sorry. I am a former PICU nurse who has witnessed so many similar stories. My heart breaks for you and your Owen. Know that you are in my prayers as you face these next few incredibly difficult days, but know that you will continue to be in my prayers in the days, weeks, and months to come.

  39. Mel,
    The courage you (and Doug) have shown through what must be one of the most difficult times of any person’s life has been very inspiring to me. I pray to God all the time that I may die before my children because I am unsure how I would handle myself if I were to lose any of my boys… you have shown me that you don’t really have time to think about it… you just do it and you, Mel, have handled all of this with so much grace, so much heart, courage, strength, and realness…. a true inspiration to every mother in the world. A true sign of what having faith and placing your life in the hands of God can do…. may God continue to hold you when you need Him and may you continue to lean on Him… love and prayers to you tonight, Sue.

  40. AS I read all of your blogs. I cried. I tried to hold it in but I couldn’t so I can just imagine how u feel. I think it was a great decision to hold him one last time. I know it had to had been the hardest thing to do, but it was the right thing. I know I would have cried to be holding him for the last time but just know that he will alwyas be with you. baby Owen will forever live on. I know that I will always remember him. I thought a lot about him over the weekend. I kept telling my boyfriend I wonder whats been going on with baby Owen. I have no computer and obviously no internet at home, so I just couldn’t wait to get back to work to check up on you guys. Mel, you have been so strong threw all of this. It is ok to cry and let it all out. let out all the pain that you feel inside. You have been so strong for your other 3 kids. God bless you and your family at this very difficult time in your lives. I would really love to make it to baby Owens funeral, but I wouldn’t be able to take off of work. I will be wearing Orange that day anyways just to remember baby Owen He will for ever be in my prayers as your whole family will as well. God bless and thanks for sharing this journey with all of us. I hope that our prayers continue to help you get threw this.
    Love always Jeanette.

  41. I sit here bawling and reading every single word. The crib thing really hit home to me. I will never forget the feeling when the coroner took my baby daughter away from my home without a carseat. Un natural beyond words. My heart breaks for you. Your sweet Owen has forever touched my heart. I know everyone will tell you how strong you are and that you will feel quite the opposite but I promise, you WILL get stronger. The pain of losing your beloved Owen will NEVER go away, you will learn how to better live with it. You will learn how to function with a gaping hole in your heart. Please please let me know if there is anything I can do. I lost my 4 month old daughter 3 years ago. I have been where you are and made it thru. Sometimes it helps to just know you are not alone. I included my daughters memorial website. tkaucher3@yahoo.com

  42. I have your site in my bookmarks. I forgot about my bookmarks. I clicked on yours and I knew where I was. I read your post about Owen around the time it happened. I cried reading each post.
    Tonight I went back and read all these post again.
    I cried again.
    I so feel for you till this day.
    Your babies are to cute and I just LOVE the name Owen.
    I will keep him in my heart and the rest of your family as well.
    God Bless.

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