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 often...at 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.