October 13, 2020 – Got a kidney to spare?

Today, I thought I’d talk about all the things that make life worth living. It’s so easy to think about all of the things you don’t have and get sucked into the whole ‘life isn’t fair’ vortex, which can take you down, down, down. But if you take a moment, you’ll find that there are always things to be grateful for, even the most simplistic. You just have to take a look around.

And I really have so much to be thankful for. I have a very devoted, loving husband that has been by my side for over 30 years. He constantly tells me how beautiful I am, to which I reply, “You need to have your eyes checked”. He tells me he loves me every single day. I give credit to the gypsy I consulted before our wedding for that. She assured me that the ‘love spell’ she placed on him would last forever…and so far, so good. He puts up with my neurotic behavior, no matter how extreme (and it can be pretty extreme). And then there are my kids. They’re all healthy and happy and thoughtful and intelligent and honest-to-goodness really wonderful people. They’re all well into adulthood now and I love to introduce them to people because they make me very proud to be their mom. Let’s just be clear, I don’t think I could have said that when they were teenagers but thankfully, they grew up and grew out of that stage in their lives.

But today happens to be an exceptionally special day so I’d like to talk about an exceptionally special person. It’s one of my big brothers but I’m not using names so I’m just going to refer to him as ‘Clover’ (as in 4-leaf clover). Well, ‘Clover’ has been part of my life since day one. He has served as a confidante, protector, friend and dance partner and has even saved my life on at least a couple of occasions.

So, why is today of-all-days particularly special? Because today I went to the hospital for my one year follow-up. A year ago, ‘Clover’ gave me one of his beautiful, healthy, thriving kidneys which ultimately gave me a second chance. A literal do-over. Without this sacrifice, I probably wouldn’t be here today. I was in a really dark place prior to that. I had told myself I’d just let the disease (end stage renal disease) finish me off. I was getting ready to pen my final goodbyes to my husband and children and a few other folks. I just didn’t care anymore. The TV set and I became extraordinarily close. It gave me an opportunity to escape my self-loathing. Nearly every weekday, I’d come home from work and sit in front of the boob tube and remain there (aside from using the bathroom and grabbing snacks) until well past midnight. On the weekends, sometimes I would just stay in my pajamas and park myself in front of the TV for the ENTIRE day. Physically and emotionally I felt like garbage. My very existence was taking up valuable oxygen that I thought could have been better spent on someone else.

But because of my brother, life is worth living again. I know I’m giving him a lot of credit, but it’s true! I have energy and I have hope and I don’t want to waste another minute because I’ve already wasted so much time. And as I look around, I am thankful for so much. Along with my husband and my kids, I am thankful for my home because it provides me with security and shelter. I am thankful for my bed because it supports my body every night and allows me to rest and my cells to heal so that in the morning, I have enough energy to face yet another day. I’m also thankful for my dog, butterflies and hummingbirds, a satisfying meal, a refreshing glass of cold water, indoor toilets, electric blankets, good friends, a hot cup of tea, and even for days when there’s absolutely nothing on the calendar. But most of all, I am thankful for my big brother because he did something that few would and made an enormous sacrifice and completely changed my life for the better. Thank you, ‘Clover’, for all that you’ve done for me throughout my life. Thank you for giving me something for which I can never fully compensate you for but will eternally be grateful for, a second chance. I love you with all of my heart.

One last thing…sorry, ‘Clover’, about the name. I know you would have preferred something like ‘Hercules’ or ‘Hero’ or ‘Lumberjack’ but it’s the best I could come up with at a moment’s notice, so now it looks like you’re stuck with it.

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