Sandy and Jerry Clutter are a couple who do not celebrate Valentine’s Day in a traditional way. For them it is about remembering their son, Jerryd, who they lost in a tragic car accident 10 years ago Tuesday.
“You will never get over it, but you will get through it. It took me eight years literally to be able to breathe without pain,” said Sandy Clutter.
The Pittsburgh family was in Burley on Monday to celebrate a different anniversary, though. When they found out Jerryd was not going to pull through, they were able to donate five of his organs to Michael Pollard, who was diagnosed with Hollow Viscus Myopathy.
“I was told that I wasn’t going to make it through the first year,” Pollard said.
But he defied the odds, and as each year passed, the Clutters and the Pollards got closer together.
They write to each other religiously, sharing stories and pictures, and at their first meeting, two poems they did not know the others had written.
“We didn’t need to do anything, but we did, and we were just sort of on the same wavelength,” Pollard said.
Behind the oxygen tanks, tubes and tears, there is optimism.
“Ten years later, here we are. And Michael’s had his 10 years that he’s gotten to be with his family. Jerryd would be proud. We know he’s proud,” Sandy Clutter said.
Maybe there is a little magic, too. Before Michael was diagnosed, Tammi, his wife, was pregnant with a son they never had; she had a miscarriage at eight months. The Pollards said they always planned to name the baby Jared.
The families call it divine intervention, and it’s a spark as real and palpable as the love between the four former strangers turned close friends, 10 years in the making.
“The best way I can repay them is to live my life as well as I can live it, and as full as I can live it, and share with as many people this story and their story,” Pollard said.
The Clutters didn’t necessarily plan to come for the anniversary of the transplant, but instead to see Michael speak. He promotes organ donation through public speeches and he will be giving one on Feb. 17. The families said it is just another coincidence.