(Editor's note: the author wishes it to be known that the tardiness of this post is in direct relation to a recent and much needed road trip to the great land o' Saskatoon*. And as such, the writer likewise wishes that any complaints regarding this lateness and/or noted grammatical errors be brought to the attention of the city of Saskatoon itself. Thank you kindly)**.
It was my anniversary the other day. No, not the married-person kind of awkward-I-love-you-still-after-all-these-years-of-smelling-your-toots-and-hearing-you-eat-loudly observance, but rather, a day to acknowledge the first transplant I underwent****. It was 1986; I was twelve. The call came on a Friday night: there's a kidney for you. Come to the hospital immediately.
Once at the hospital, while various nurses fluttered about scrubbing my bits and pieces in an attempt to prep my belly for the organ****, the transplant coordinator pulled my parents aside and tacitly mentioned that the donor had been twenty-two, from Vancouver island, and exited this world due to a drinking and driving accident.
And that's where I get stuck in sharing about this. Even after these thirty years, typing those scant details of him, the Other-Whose-Death-Saved-Mine is difficult. It muffles my head a bit and I don't know what words are adequate: I lived because he died.
Please do not get me wrong: I am thankful. I was and am deeply, excruciatingly grateful. But as a twelve year old and even now as an adult, I admit that I do not know how to process much of it*****.
So I do what I can: I remember. Every July 20, I remember a person, age twenty-two, a B.C resident. Most likely a loved son, a friend, and perhaps even a brother. He was somebody, and I acknowledge that.
(Thank you, my kidney-donating friend. One day, perhaps if heaven works the way I want it to, we will meet up again and swap this kidney a few more times).
*not the author's choice. But still pleasant.
**I confess that I don't actually have an editor. Well, not an official one, anyway. It's just me. But if anyone is up for the job, it's your's! I pay in appreciation, affection*** and perhaps a sharing of my red licorice. But only if you are good.
***from a distance. I'm not the hugging type. Not unless you are four-legged and furry, that is. Then I will basically molest you.
****because this is what us chronically ill ("Lifers") do: time is not marked by the usual graduations, move out of the parent's house, etc., but rather, by the first central line, an initial dialysis run, or, as in this case, the first kidney transplant.
****again, just to clarify: when I say 'organ', I am meaning the nephron-laden kind, not the Hammond church-lady variety. There has been some confusion regarding this, and I apologize.
*****hello, existentialism. Or faith. Take your pick.