Monique Salinas couldn't wait to turn 15. Being Latina, this is one of the biggest birthday celebrations of a lifetime, otherwise known as a Quinceañera. The most exciting part is dressing up in a completely over the top pink dress, with a tiara to match, of course. But for Monique, her parents had arranged something even more special that she'd never forget. Grab your nearest box of Kleenex, because this story is about to get emotional!
No expense was spared by Monique's parents when it came to throwing their daughter the Quinceañera of her dreams. But little did she know that the greatest surprise would be born of a traumatic family tragedy which occurred more than a decade ago.
When Monique was a kid, she had an older brother named Mikey who she absolutely adored. The two were extremely close as children and loved playing together. Though her memories of Mikey have grown weaker over time, she has never forgotten him.
The Salinas have always had to shoulder the pain of what happened to Mikey. About ten years ago he was tragically killed in a car accident and the family has never been able to stop grieving for their son and brother.
You might be wondering what all this has to do with Monique's 15th birthday. Well, her parents decided it was time to tell her about the unique way in which Mikey truly lives on. The news instantly brought Monique to tears.
Unbeknownst to Monique, her parents made the difficult decision to donate Mikey's organs after he died. It would have been heart wrenching for them at the time, but now they could proudly tell Monique that Mikey's heart beats on in someone else's chest.
This news in itself would have been shocking enough, but Monique's parents had arranged for the recipient of Mikey's heart to attend the party. When they told Monique, she was understandably overcome with emotion. Imagine finding all of this out at once!
When Mikey died, his heart was donated to a little girl named Aubrey Reeves. Aubrey was fighting for her life when the gift of Mikey's heart saved her. She is now 18 years old and her donated heart is still beating as strong as ever.
When Aubrey received Mikey's heart as a sick eight-year-old, her body had already rejected two previous donor hearts. Things weren't looking good for the future, until doctors found the perfect match for her. Mikey's heart was the one for her and she hasn't had a problem since then.
Aubrey and her mother both attended Monique's party and couldn't emphasize enough how grateful they were for the sacrifice the Salinas family had made all of those years ago. Monique was absolutely thrilled to be able to meet the girl who keeps her brother's heart safe.
As Monique's parents revealed their secret to the party, they announced over the microphone: "the heart of Monique's dead brother, Mikey, is in the middle of the room, and is alive and beating in the chest of a young girl."
When Monique realized exactly what was going on, she couldn't control her emotions. The two young women embraced and formed a sisterly bond almost instantly. Monique couldn't help but feel that Mikey was also in the room celebrating with them.
One of the most unbelievable experiences of Monique's 15th birthday was being able to feel her brother's heart beating by placing her hand on Aubrey's chest. For the rest of the party she couldn't get over what her parents had done for her.
It wasn't only Monique who felt the power of Mikey's presence. Her parents were also overcome with emotion, even though they organized the whole thing. We can't even imagine how surreal it would be to meet the girl who holds your dead son's heart.
Losing a child is one of the most painful things a parent can go through. For the Salinas, it's something they'll never get over. But one amazing thing that has come out of it is that Mikey was able to save Aubrey's life.
Attending Monique's birthday party wasn't just a one-time appearance for Aubrey. Since meeting the Salinas family she has developed a strong familial bond with them, especially Monique. This beautiful story is truly proof that every cloud has a silver lining.