Gift of Hope helps Algonquin woman find solace
By Daily Herald Report
On June 14, 2006, Sara Lowe suffered a loss that altered the course of her life. She will never get over it or move on. She is changed, forever.
It was early, Lowe was driving to work when she got a call from her mother. Her younger sister, Rosie, had attempted suicide and they were taking her to the hospital. Lowe’s family lived in McHenry but she had just started a nursing job in Chicago. She was at Ashland and Diversey when she got the call. She turned hard to the right to get off the road and just screamed.
Fighting against rush hour traffic, Lowe drove back home to be with her family. After 17 hours in the hospital, Rosie died she had overdosed on pain pills.
“You go through life and you hope that nothing bad ever happens, Lowe said. “I always crossed my fingers hoping I would never experience a loss like that.
Lowe and her sister were always close. Their birthdays fell just one week apart and they celebrated birthday dinners together growing up. As they moved into their 20s and started their separate lives, they talked on the phone almost daily, getting together for date nights every week or two.
Lowe thinks the suicide was a mistake; that Rosie didn’t mean for it to go so far. Her father had just received a 3-month supply of pills from the insurance company for back pain after a surgery. Rosie took four. But there’s a million what-ifs that Lowe doesn’t like to think about. None of them will change reality, and her sister is gone.
Dealing with that reality left Lowe reeling. There was a giant hole in her life where Rosie used to be.
“It’s just a shock, Lowe said. “You just learn to live a different way.
When Rosie died, Lowe took a break. She was in the middle of drastic changes in her family life but also in her work life she was about to move to Chicago to be closer to her nursing job. In the best piece of advice she heard throughout the entire process, Lowe’s mom told her it was OK to be still.
“When something like that happens, you stop but the world keeps moving, Lowe said. “My mom said you stay where you’re at. You don’t have to keep moving.
After a couple weeks off work, Lowe returned to the intensive care unit where she was a nurse. She stayed in that job for three years and then heard about an organization called Gift of Hope, an organ and tissue donor network it made her think of her sister.
As her family waited out those 17 hours in the hospital, Lowe’s mother searched for a meaning in the tragedy. When they considered organ donation, she thought it was a chance to say Rosie died so others could live. In the end, Rosie couldn’t be a donor but Lowe saw the solace the idea gave her mother. She said she would be honored to give that gift to others.
Lowe is a recovery coordinator and works with patients across Illinois and northwest Indiana. She coordinates the entire process of organ recovery and sees tragedies every day she works. But the sadness is a form of therapy for Lowe.
“I just feel like dealing with some of these situations I deal with at work brings me closer to her, Lowe said.
It has been four years since her sister died. The Algonquin resident tries to keep her in her life as much as possible, talking about Rosie with her mother, giving her name to her 1-year-old daughter, Keira Rosanne. And in her work, a job she may never have done if it weren’t for her sister’s tragedy, Lowe remembers. She honors that her sister lived, if only for 22 years.