It was February 13th, a Saturday. I know this date because it was the first time since the transplant that I laughed.
Now, of course I had snickered or perhaps even slightly guffawed previous to this. But not much. Those months following the transplant and then the lymphocele surgery were a special kind of difficult; I joke now about being grateful that Winnipeg's landscape is monotonously flat.* But truthfully, there were select days when I had just enough clarity to move my prescription bottle of sleeping pills off the nightstand, and so out of view. I am ashamed to admit that on some days that bottle was just too much of a temptation.
All this to say is that I did not laugh much in the months following this latest 'gift of life'.**
And with many things in just trying to live, I soon forgot to notice that I was no longer laughing to both the boisterous level or at the frequency that I had prior to the latest transplant. It's absence became normal. This necessary piece of me had vanished. And I hadn't even noticed.
That is, until February 13, 2016, while seated at the Forks Market. Ironically, my then visiting niece and I had spent that morning at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.*** Sean and the kiddo had spent the morning at the Children's Museum. Shortly after noon, we agreed to meet at the Forks food court for lunch. During that lunch, Sean and I began discussing which one of us would go home to put the kiddo down for his afternoon nap, and which one of us would accompany my niece back to the Human Rights museum for the remainder of the afternoon.
And, like any in-a-long-term-relationship couple, we did the logical thing: we would make our decision by playing Rock-paper-scissors.****** Whomever won would get to stay.
I am not quite sure what happened next, but for some reason, once Sean had counted the expected 'one-two-three' prior to us each showing our hand, I hesitated. Without even thinking, I waited a split second after he had put his hand into the shape of a rock before I showed mine. I don't know why I even did this -- it was not a conscious choice. But everyone at the table erupted in laughter, myself included. Sean being Sean, began waving his arms in the air, and a hilariously indignant speech ensued. He could not believe that I had broken the Rock-paper-scissors rule.
This was the first time since the transplant eight months prior that I belly-laughed: there I was, seated at the Forks, nephrostomy tube and bag still hidden under my well-used leggings, laughing. I fully guffawed. I, bent over onto the table, head in hands, salty tears escaping down my cheeks, snorts and snot erupting from my nose, laughed. And it felt so very good.
*no hills to jump off of. Not big ones, anyway.
**gift of life: this is a bit tongue-in-cheek (or kidney-in-abdomen?). This 'gift of life' is the slogan of organ donation. And I agree: organ transplantation is a gift of life. And I am in awe of those who do decide to donate. But sometimes the pressure on recipients to be grateful for such a 'gift of life' is a heavy thing to bear, especially if post-transplant surgery is not easy.
***a well-presented and fascinating glimpse into human rights. But it is not the happiest place;**** it's basically a history of how humans have, and continue to hurt each other.
****it is not Disneyland. I repeat: this is not Disneyland. Please leave all mouse o' Mickey ears at home. Wearing them will be frowned upon. Greatly frowned upon. Seriously. Don't wear the ears.*****
*****oh gosh. I see now what I have done. By my mentioning to not wearing those mouse o' Mickey ears, you now want to wear them right? Golly. Humans. How does any Deity put up with us?
******we are very mature.