Mother’s new book, advocacy, preserve daughter’s memory; talk, signing April13 at Athol Public Library
By CAMERON WOODCOCK, ADN Staff Reporter
“She will live on; I’ll make sure of that. She won’t ever be forgotten.”
These are the words of first-time author and Warwick resident Marcy Robitaille, who chronicles the enduring legacy and constant presence of her 17-year-old daughter Mackenzie Goode, tragically lost in a 2010 car accident. “Wish You a Goode Journey -Living with Eyes and Heart Wide Open,” is now available for purchase on Amazon and at an April 13 talk and book signing at the Athol Public Library.
After the accident and come deliberation, the family registered Mackenzie as a posthumous organ donor, a decision made in accordance with her compassionate” disposition and based upon the consensus of ”what she would have done.”
The donation of Mackenzie’s organs saved the Jives of six patients previously “on death’s door and, for Robitaille, marked a pivotal point in the grieving process. “To be able to say I have an extra chapter to my daughter’s life and have her live on in others is just amazing. I see how she’s changed so many Jives for the better,” she said.
Robitaille also relies heavily on her faith, which is reinforced by repeated instances of “God winks.” As documented in “Wish You a Goode Journey,” these ostensibly coincidental occurrences, often in the unlikeliest of places, remind Robitaille of the close proximity of her daughter at all times.
While shopping in Portsmouth, N.H., on Mackenzie’s birthday, Robitaille perused a half-empty shelf and discovered a purple piece of paper ascribed with the message, “Keep calm; Jove you mom.”
“My book is filled with my faith; it has been instrumental in my healing,” she said.
The intimate bond Robitaille shares with several organ recipients is evident both in the pages of her book, which includes a chapter authored by the man with Mackenzie’s transplanted heart, and in the trajectory of her life; Robitaille was a guest of the man who received Mackenzie’s pancreas at his daughter’s wedding, and she maintains regular contact with several other recipients.
Robitaille’s presentation at Athol Library is one of several speaking engagements in conjunction with National Donate Life Month in April. While stories of organ recipients are communicated regularly, the accounts of donors often go untold, she said, reasoning that families could be Jess willing to discuss their experiences.
As a registered volunteer for New England Organ Bank and Donate Life New England, a distinction she has held since shortly after her daughter’s death, she will also spend April advancing the cause of organ donation. Robitaille said from her Donate Life information table at Athol Hospital this past Friday that performing similar volunteer work this year on the anniversary of Mackenzie’s passing allowed her to remain “focused on the positive.” “What better way to stay busy on that day?” she said.
Similarly, Robitaille in 2014 traveled to Houston for the Donate Life Transplant Games of America, the biannual equivalent of the Olympics for beneficiaries of transplant surgeries. With around 6,000 recipients in attendance, she was selected along with fellow donor families to bring out the New England Donate Life banner.
Robitaille also noted that, through her involvement with Donate Life. and New England Organ Bank, she met a liver recipient and swimmer for team USA, who now carries a picture of Mackenzie for inspiration.
The physical act of penning “Wish You a Goode Journey” also proved cathartic for Robitaille, who said she has always enjoyed writing, but never envisioned herself as an author.
Once largely unfamiliar with the concept of blogging, she now writes weekly entries at AGodWink.com, and a slight delay in posting can elicit questions from her loyal following.
On the positive response to her blog, Robitaille said, “People are looking for inspiration; people are looking for positive. There’s so much bad in the media.”
In addition to preserving Mackenzie’s memory, the recounting of her story in book and blog form serves to help ease the sorrow of grieving families, and subsequently the transition back to a vigorous life.
”This was the worst experience of my life. Nobody can show you how to get through it, but it might have been nice (for me] to have someone to talk to. It’s good to talk to somebody who’s walked in those shoes; no one can understand but the people who have gone through it,” she said.
Along those lines, Robitaille said the decision to share her daughter’s story bas given her greater appreciation for bow her situation parallels that of so many others.
Since the March release of “Wish You a Goode Journey,” the book bas garnered “five-star” reviews, Robitaille said, adding that the response to this point bas been “amazing.”
Robitaille will be joined on April 13 at 5:30 p.m. by Pbillipston resident Tom Ricb, who received a kidney from his Jiving son. Registrations for the program can be made by calling the library at 978-249-9515, though doing so is not required.
Robitaille said she focuses on Jiving life one day at a time, “seeing what doors God opens.” To that end, Robitaille “never thought this would be part of my purpose in life,” but she takes comfort in the belief that Mackenzie is looking down fondly on her.
“I believe she’s smiling her biggest smile, and I believe I’ll see her again.”