Friday, August 24, 2012

New Beginnings

It has been 2 weeks since I was gifted a second chance at life.  

My body accepted this second chance in record time. 

No joke.  The surgeon's message to my family was, 'the second we connected Meredith's kidney into Maura, it began producing urine on the surgery table.' 

Immediate acceptance. Typically there is some adjustment time that occurs.  For some it could be a few hours before the kidney takes to its new home...for others it can be a few weeks.  The fact that my body accepted this in seconds only confirms my faith and trust in the undeniable grace that has unfolded within and around me. My body opened itself to love and received it without fear, without hesitation. I received this gift with the deepest sense of gratitude I have ever, and quite possibly will ever feel. Now the awe I feel for my life, for humanity, for second chances, for my love, for my soul mates, for my friends and family, for my past, my present, my future, and for indescribable. I believe it may be some time before I actually have the words to explain.  I also believe there really will never be words that can adequately explain it.  It's one of those rare life experiences that can't be shaped in words.  How do you put "awe" in words?  I hope to try to find a way to share what this means to me...but I have come to accept that it's going to be a process.  And I'm excited at the aspect of how this process will reveal itself to me.

Even though it seems impossible, I'd like to entertain the chance at trying to give this awe words, because this awe is changing me.  


(Small dose of grungy reality, so I don't make everyone sick with sappy happy joy. There are A LOT of difficult things I'm adjusting to. There is a lot my partner is adjusting to. There is a lot those close to me are adjusting to.  Having a transplant is huge, but helping the body adjust to all the medications to prevent rejection is also quite huge. Huge and rough (when I write rough, hear Tina Turner's voice growling in Proud Mary.) ROUGH. But of course, worth it. It's what makes this new beginning possible. So it is hard, and pumping my body full of toxins to prevent rejection is REAL hard in the first month post-transplant. But I choose to focus on the awe. I choose to see past the pettiness that occurs in daily life and focus instead on how unbelievably fortunate I am, how unbelievably fortunate my partner is, how unbelievably fortunate those who love me are for this gift we have all been given.)


Awe for life equals a new attitude.  This new attitude is is drenched in the feeling of possibility.  This feeling of possibility wakes me up, and is accompanied with an energy I have not woke up with in years. This week I woke up without swollen hands, without swollen eyes, feeling rested and full of dreams, goals, and a renewed passion for my life.  

(I remember who I was just a few weeks ago.  I didn't let my disease get in my way-I worked on recording and releasing an album with my band, I moved into a home with my partner.  And I did these things with a sense of trust.  But I have to admit there was a lingering fear that tangled itself around each adventure.  This fear was rooted in rejection.  What if people don't like the new album?  What if I'm not ready to live with someone? What if, what if, what if?)  

On August 8, 2012, I put fears to rest.  The surgeon cut me open and restored my faith. In humanity, in myself, and in all that I am capable of doing.  

I am capable of anything.  I am capable of anything.  I am capable of anything. 

I will pursue what I want and I will go after everything and anything that will make me stronger and more fulfilled. Regardless of the outcome, I am not afraid to try, because I have faced my biggest fear and have come through stronger than ever. 

I will:

Get my band to Philly, NYC, and Atlanta!  
Take a cooking class!
Audition for theater! GLTF!
Share Meredith's and my story, increasing awareness of Live Organ Donation!
Write! Get Published! 
Go to Ireland with my partner and family!

This is my Act Two.  Every morning is a new page and I hold the power within to shape it however I like.

This is a gifted second chance at making the most out of my life.  

In honor of Meredith and her gift, I am going to make the most out of this second chance. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

One week.

One week.

Seven days.

168 hours.

A cup of coffee in hand, a toe swollen with gout (4th episode in the last 2 months, and it's not from eating meat of drinking hard liquor), and I sit with the reality that in one week, the journey I have taken over the past 6 years will come to a close.  I will have a new chance at life.

Just writing that sentence gets my eyes wet.  This is real.  This is so very, very real.

Monday morning I went to the clinic and gave three vials of blood to compare with my donor, confirming that we are still a 4/6 antigen match and good to go.  When I was walking into the lab, it had a whole different feel than it has for many, many years.  I had such a strong sense of faith, such a strong sense of knowing that as real and as huge and as overwhelming as all of this is, it is meant to be.  It is meant to be in ways that words can not explain.  If there's some cosmic way that proves we are all connected, I am soaking in it right now.  I am soaking in the reality that a complete stranger I met under two years ago is as close of a match as my own siblings.

Walking into the lab, all I could think about was the hug that needed to happen.  The hug that could take the place of words, the hug that could convey an inkling of the gratitude bursting in my heart.  We hugged and to be honest, I had a hard time letting go.  However, the last thing one wants to do is hold on too long and freak out the donor!  We sat down and waited for our names to be called while surrounded by strangers. We were laughing and tearing up for a good hour about how we trust this was meant to be.

(I had read about a horrible tragedy just hours prior to this, and before going to the clinic, all I could think about was the crazy sadness and beauty that can exist within one hour of this lifetime. Across the city, a young vibrant man lost his life far too soon.  Across from me was a young vibrant woman willing to share her life with me so that I can keep on keeping on.  This world dishes it out in very mysterious ways. And I feel more obligated than ever in my soul to be as conscious of the beauty as I have been of the tragic.)

I am writing this to share beauty.  Because as weak as I feel, as painful as this stupid gout is, as nervous as I can get thinking about paying my bills, I am in the midst of something that feels so powerful, so beautiful that it needs to be shared.

From the getgo, I felt we were kindred spirits.  I had no idea that our bond would run this deep.  But I do know that when I received the following email, I had a sense of unexplainable knowing that this woman was going to help save my life.

On Sept. 26th, 2011, I received this email with the subject matter, "O+":

hey there. just thinking a lot about your situation with your siblings and your health. my blood type is O+, and i have no clue what conditions my kidneys are in (i do love my beer!) but how do you go about finding a match other than blood type? i know we were meant to become friends (soul sisters!) and to make some music, but who knows - sometimes there are larger plans in the picture.

Larger plans indeed, but I was feeling like our friendship was saving my life already, just by all that she brought to it.  It's friendship that in such a short time led my partner and I to our first home together, friendship that led to making an album and releasing it to a sold out audience, friendship that led to dog walks and pet babysitting, friendship that led to soulful conversations about life and love and how to handle all the crazy in a day.  Little and larger things, but literally saving someone's life is beyond what most friendship plans offer.

The beauty of this is only possible if you open your eyes to it.  I have talked with people who I believe are doing their best to comfort me, saying "Maura, transplants happen all the time.  It's totally normal. Everybody will be fine."  Sure.  They do happen all the time. And medically speaking, it's just taking one organ from one person and putting it in another person.  

But here's the thing, it's more than that

It's about the beauty of a human being willing to consciously take a huge risk for another human being. It's about opening our hearts to others' needs, and opening our own independent hearts to admit that we may have a need.  It's about recognizing the people in our lives-family, friends, and holy heavens, even the strangers. Recognizing the connections in our lives, and recognizing all that they bring to us-love, challenge, joy, pain, growth.  Our world needs to slow down a bit and recognize our connections more least I know I do.  

The bottom line is this: we have no idea how the connections we make impact our lives unless we stop and reflect.  

I'm reflecting. I'm reflecting. I'm reflecting. The connections I've made are saving my life. 

I know in the next week I'm going to be doing my damn best to recognize all the beauty around me.  And the with second chance I'm being given, I hope I continue to do so long after next Wednesday.