Meet Claire & Don

Meet Don & Claire

In Loving Memory of Claire Glass

“Claire was an amazing young lady, and I think it’s easy for a father to say that, but she truly was.  She was blessed with giftedness. She was extremely academically gifted. It was a challenge because when we realized she needed more, nobody believed us.  It wasn’t until the 2nd grade when we saw a psychiatrist, and they did an analysis of her and they basically said, she’s brilliant. When she was in 8th grade she scored a 30 on the ACT, and got a perfect score on the PSAT. You look at children and say, you can do whatever you want to do–but we truly felt that with Claire.  We looked forward to her growth and the things she was going to do. She was not only a gift to us, but I felt a gift to the world.

What was unique–she also was talented on the stage. She was a phenomenal singer & performer. And people were blown away by that, because I think there’s this stigma that if you’re this smart gifted kid, then all you do is study, but that wasn’t the case with Claire. One of her all-time favorite stories was Snow White.  She always wanted to play Snow White. She auditioned for a play and the director just loved her.  And as they were going through that—the director was going to be producing this play in 6 months and wanted Claire for the lead role.  It was Snow White. So, she auditioned for it, and of course won the part. That was the last performance Claire was in.

Claire always thought of other people. I think that’s what amazed me the most.  Because she was so busy and so committed, that when she had free time all she wanted to do was volunteer.  And I would say, teenage kids are sleeping in on Saturdays, not volunteering at The Ronald McDonald House. Claire was big into women’s rights and young girl’s rights and making sure their voices were being heard. And I was always so, so impressed with that. Because, it was easy for her to just sleep in, or to stay home. She was adored by her friends. And we were so proud of her”

Photo by Devon Albeit

“I’m Don Glass. I have three children.  My youngest is Max, he’s a sophomore in high school. I have a middle child Emma, she’s a junior in high school.  Claire was my oldest. We lost Claire three years ago.  She was 16 years old.  And she was a junior in high school.  We lost her tragically on March 6th of 2014.  It was a normal day.  We were getting ready for spring break.  She was doing fine. And the next thing you know, we’re at Children’s hospital.

It’s hard to describe. It’s almost like you’re outside of yourself.  And you’re watching a show, because you’re literally in a hallway sitting across from her room. And there are doctors and nurses everywhere.  Yelling and screaming. Running up and down the hallway. Going in and out.  And we can’t go in.  It’s almost like, this isn’t happening. I remember sitting there.  My wife was there.  And I just— you just—knew. This is going to be bad.  You had that feeling. She’s just not going to survive this. And, I’m thinking. How do we—what are we going to do?  We have two other kids—and they wanted to come down, and I just did not want them to see Claire that way.

I remember the doctor coming out and kneeling down in front of us. And he’s like, “I’ve got two things for you.  Number one, she is not going to survive. We’re keeping her alive basically with these machines, but she’s not going to survive.  Our recommendation is to take her off of this and when we do it will be just a matter of minutes before she passes. We would allow you to come in and be with her.” We were blessed by that.  I mean it was—it was difficult.  But I was with Claire. I held her hand. And I kissed her cheek. And I was able to say goodbye to her when she passed. The second thing he said to us was “She’s an organ and tissue donor.” And I didn’t know that.”

Photo by Devon Albeit

“Because Claire was 16, they said, she’s under the age of 18 so we need your permission for her to be a donor. I mean what do you say? Our only answer was yes.  If that’s what Claire wanted, then of course that’s what we’re going to do.

You’re walking out of the hospital–and I thought I’m going to wake up and this entire nightmare is going to be over. And you just don’t know what to do.  How do you tell your family? How do you tell your friends? How do you tell your kids? And how do you be strong for your family, your wife and your two kids and move forward from this?  We were at a funeral home discussing how we wanted it done–We were being asked to write an obituary. How do you write an obituary for your child? You know? This was not something you thought you would do.

And through this process—which was extremely difficult we were receiving information from Life Line of Ohio.  That was surprising to me.  We were getting lots of stuff sent to the house.  But to receive a letter that referred to my daughter as a hero—was—was—very much needed at that time. A letter not only telling us who Claire was able to help and what she was able to give, but referring to her as a hero– that was amazing. And I felt proud about that.  Here is something I can take from this tragedy.

But what was unique about Life Line of Ohio was that the stuff kept coming.  I mean it was a constant effort to basically show us and tell us that Claire is a Hero. And as much as you’re grieving now and you don’t know how you’re going to continue with your life—at least you know your daughter was a hero. That was extremely comforting for us. And that process with @LifeLineofohio continued. We started getting invited to events.  We thought it was awesome.  We would sign up and then the day would come and we would say, “We can’t go.” I can’t even mow my yard, how am I going to go and be with people that are dealing with what we’re dealing with.”

Photo by Devon Albeit

“Life Line of Ohio had a Christmas tree lighting ceremony and we thought it had been such a great organization for us. So we went.  And it was beautiful.   They had you make these ornaments about your loved one.  So, my kids and wife all made ornaments.  I’m naïve of course, thinking we would just throw these bad boys up on the tree and we were outta here. No.  They wanted us to talk about the person. I wasn’t comfortable, but my wife did—everybody did.  And every one who spoke had lost somebody—whether it was their child, a parent, or a friend.  It was a hero that they had lost.

As you can imagine it was pretty emotional.  I remember my son standing there looking at me like, can we go? Like why are we doing this to ourselves?  And when we were done—someone from Lifeline Ohio asked if there was anybody else there who would like to say something.  There was a woman who had all these people around her. Adults & children. She was crying and said, “I do!”

She said, “I want to thank all of you for the heroes that you guys are and for talking about the heroes that are in your life.  If it wasn’t for a hero like the one you have– I would not be alive right now.”

And she went on to talk about a transplant that she received when she was younger.  And I had never heard that before.  She went on.

“See all these adults?”  (That were next to her)—They were her kids. “If it wasn’t for a hero I wouldn’t be here and my kids wouldn’t be here.”  And then she looked at all the little kids (which were her grand-children).  “If I wasn’t here, and they weren’t here, then my beautiful grandchildren wouldn’t be here either.”

There’s not a dry eye in the place.  I looked at my wife, and said, “ Why would anyone not be an organ and tissue donor?”

“You’re not,” she said.

But the very next day I came to Life Line of Ohio– I walked in and said,

“I wanted  to be an organ and tissue donor.”

Photo by Devon Albeit

“But my biggest fear and I think it’s a fear of a lot of people—that people forget.  We just had the three year anniversary of losing her—and it’s a very hard day for us. People care, but they don’t remember, but Life Line of Ohio has never forgot.  No matter what my involvement was in the organization. They always took the time to remind us of what a hero Claire was.

There’s a lot of advice that’s given to you. And we tried them in little pieces. We went to a support group, but I found it difficult to be around other people that were also grieving.  I would walk out feeling worse than when I came in.  I honestly believe –we have such an extremely strong family.   My marriage is extremely strong. We have a great group of friends.  And our faith has really helped us. My wife is my best friend—I don’t know what I would do without her.  We didn’t do a lot of counseling, but we did some with the kids. I think it was just being together.  Trying to be strong.  You know, I remember telling my wife and kids shortly after (and I don’t know why it impelled me to say this):

We’re good people and we’re a good family and this was a tragedy that happened to us—but it’s not going to define who we are. And we’re not going to use it as excuses. We’re going to overcome this and it’s going to make us stronger.

And, I believe we’ve done that.

When you go through something like that—the things that used to bother you—don’t bother you anymore.  Things that stress you out—just don’t stress you out.  You look at life and the world differently.

It puts things in perspective because you don’t know what the worst day of your life can be.

I would not wish it on anyone…. I would not wish it on anyone. You try to take some good away from tragedies — Life is very short. Enjoy it. Don’t get worked up over little things.”

–Don Glass-

Story Sponsored by Life Line of Ohio 

In loving memory of Claire Glass

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