Wednesday, August 19, 2015


     On Wednesday, August 20, 2014, I got "the call."  And on Thursday, August 20, 2015, my wife, son, and my mom and dad will celebrate the year that has been possible because of the successful surgery that began that night and continued long into the next morning.  Our plan is to go to Mackinac Island, largely because that is a place my wife and I would go every year.  We understandably put that tradition aside for the past two years.  My mom and dad will join us for the first time; neither of them have been to the island in over 30 years.  We do all this in lieu of celebrating something meaningful in the life of my donor and donor family.  

     I do not know anything about them, but I am hopeful my donor family will contact me some day.  If that day does come, and I'm able to learn some details about the life of my donor, my plan is to incorporate something that he or she enjoyed into my future transplant anniversaries.  My approach will be to honor this person's life as well as celebrate my own, because I never want to lose sight of how every one of my joys and triumphs are tied to some another family's loss and grief.

     I can only hope that the life I live will, by some small measure, offset the pain my donor family has gone through over this past year and no doubt will continue to feel for a long time to come.  But my donor family knowing about me and my life is a two way mirror.  It's possible the letter I sent them in February gave them all the information they'll ever want, or that they read this blog but desire to keep it as the buffer between knowing me and actually knowing me.  All of these are things I can't control and perhaps will never have answers to.  But accepting what is beyond my ken or outside my reach is something waiting on the transplant list made me very good at.  
     So, unless I suddenly become omnipotent, I will only know what I know and do what I can do-- and that is enjoy all the little moments of a ferry ride, a ride in a horse drawn buggy, a stroll though a gift shop selling almost the exact same things as the previous gift shop.  A meal with the people most deeply impacted by August 20, 2014, save for those who lost their brother, sister, son, or daughter.  And who knows, maybe before my next transplant-aversary, I'll be able to have a meal with them too.  

     I look ahead to a year that is as full of rock solid plans and wavering uncertainty as everyone else's.  But it's not like everyone else's.  What has brought me here is an experience that, thankfully, precious few people can truly relate to.  However, the gratitude my journey has infused me with is the common thread-- one that all of us can pull-- which can unravel the walls we have built up against hope, or happiness, or faith, or forgiveness.  To be thankful for what we do have in a world where we often see those with so much more is no easy task.  If there is one outcome of my writing that I hope is most impactful, it is that it triggers in you a desire to focus on what you are grateful for, helps you unearth what you take for granted, and express, often and with a wide net, how grateful you are for the things you may have otherwise never appreciated.  I've spent the last year doing that, and I don't plan on stopping any time soon.

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