Do You Believe in Destiny?

Published in the Huffington Post.

Do you believe in destiny or are you one of those “that’s just a coincidence” kind of people? Let’s say you’ve been dying to go to a concert and your friend calls at the last minute to invite you. Destiny or coincidence? What if you go to a conference out of town and find yourself sitting next to someone from a company that you’ve been trying to connect with forever? Destiny or coincidence?

I’m on the fence about this subject. Since Simon’s death, it is hard for me to make sense of things like this. Because, for me to believe in destiny, I have to accept that my son died for a reason. That’s a tall order.

Simon was born on October 21, 2004. He was a seemingly healthy baby. He died in his sleep on January 24, 2005. Following his death, our family got their hearts checked and I discovered a heart condition that is attributed to up to 15% of SIDS deaths. It is called Long QT Syndrome (LQTS). In his memory, we established Simon’s Fund to raise awareness about sudden cardiac arrest and death in children.

On the other hand, since his passing, some things have happened that are very difficult to explain. It is impossible for me to write them off as mere coincidence.

You be the judge.

The Third Angel Day. We call it his angel day – the day that Simon died. In 2007, Melissa Fair attended Simon’s Fund’s very first heart screening. She discovered two structural conditions that required open heart surgery. Her surgery took place on January 24, 2008. Out of all of the days to schedule a surgery, why did it happen on Simon’s third angel day? It is always a brutally difficult day. However, knowing that Melissa’s life was changed for the better makes it bearable.

The Other Simon. I don’t know too many kids named Simon. I like that. It’s unique. Maybe even a little old school. In 2011, a local family reached out to us. Their son was getting ready to become a bar mitzvah and was looking for a community service project. We never had a student organize a screening for us, but it seemed like a pretty cool concept. He rallied more than 300 students to attend. He worked with FOX29 to get his EKG exam on the air to educate the public. He created a new model for our organization that has led to many more screenings and projects spearheaded by students. Of course, his name was Simon.

The Seventh Birthday. Drew Harrington played a lot of basketball. He used to complain to his mother that his heart beat felt strange at times. His mom attributed it to all of the caffeinated beverages he consumed. In 2012, Drew was one of the students who attended “The Other Simon’s” heart screening. Drew discovered a heart condition called Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome, an arrhythmia. On October 21, 2012, he had a procedure to correct the problem. This would have been Simon’s seventh birthday. It is so hard to be joyous on Simon’s birthday. It is a day when I should be throwing parties, taking photos and helping him open gifts. However, Drew has given us something to celebrate.

The Ninth Birthday. Our ongoing ritual was to escape on Simon’s birthday. We just wanted to be alone. I didn’t want to deal with the conversations or glances that come with a birthday after your child has passed. Simon’s Fund was finalizing its educational video on sudden cardiac arrest for coaches pursuant to the passage of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act. We received amazing news.Jimmy Roberts of NBC Sports agreed to narrate the video. There was a caveat – Jimmy was only available to record in studio on October 21. The video is now being used by state governments and the National Federation of State High School Associations to educate millions of coaches around the country.

The Eleventh Birthday. Sudden death is a good way to decide a hockey game, not lose a teammate. Sudden cardiac arrest is the #1 cause of death of student athletes. This year, Simon’s Fund launched A Czech for Hearts with thePhiladelphia Flyers and Jakub Voracek to bring awareness to the cause. Every time the Flyers win in overtime, Jakub donates $1,000 to Simon’s Fund for free heart screenings. The season began on October 8. On October 21, the Flyers won their first game of the season . . . and it was in sudden death. Happy Birthday, Simon.

Just This Week. On Monday night (November 23), my husband and I went to the Flyers game and meet Jakub Voracek. We were excited to thank him for helping us launch such a meaningful awareness campaign. The Flyers got off to a quick 2 – 0 lead. In the third period, the Carolina Hurricanes scored two. The game was tied at the end of regulation. Twenty-four seconds into sudden death, the Flyers scored. Simon’s Fund received another $1,000 from Jakub. To date, the Flyers have won seven games. Three have been decided in sudden death.

There is a very old cliché – everything happens for a reason. Literally, this is true. It rains because the clouds fill up with water. A dog chases a ball when we throw it. However, it is not always the reason that is so important. It is the purpose.

I still can’t answer the question – is it destiny or coincidence. I also don’t want to admit that there was a reason for his death. Selfishly, I have a thousand reasons for him to be with me today. However, I can see the purpose.

His death revealed true friendships. It brought amazing people into my life (some listed above). It widened my eyes to the generosity of and goodness in others. It brought awareness to millions of people. It may have even saved a few lives.

During this holiday season, I hope that you find gratitude and purpose in your life. Happy Holidays.