Dear Donor Bob:
Okay, first of all, I know "Bob" probably isn't and wasn't your name. Please forgive me for taking the liberty of renaming you, in a sense. The frank truth of the matter is that I was having difficulty connecting with you in the hospital right after your amazing gift. I found myself lying there in that plastic bed, breathing deeply and desperately wanted to express my gratitude, but unable to figure out how to do so. I mean, how does one reach out to someone they never met -- a total stranger who nonetheless chose to save their life, to become a part of them, to offer a chance at a future full of promise and hope? It wasn't finding the words that was difficult (I'm rarely speechless, so that was the easy part), but as I lay awake night after night I suddenly realized that despite the fact that we have shared a vital organ, I don't actually know anything about you aside from your approx. age and your sex. So I decided to start at the beginning and to give you a name so that we could at least have a proper introduction. Or maybe I should say that it's less of a name than it is an inside joke -- a nickname between friends. Because I would really like it if we could be friends, Donor Bob, and preferably for a very long time.
Anyway, now that that's out of the way, I guess I should just get down to the important stuff. Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you for the many walks I have taken with my puppy and my family and my friends in the past two months. Thank you for the effortless way that air flows into my body now, as though I'm not even trying. Thank you for the other night, when I looked up and saw the moon shining between those truly amazing NY skyscrapers and couldn't even move, it was so beautiful. Thank you for that day in Brooklyn with my aunt. Thank you for today, when Ben and I got caught in the rain and had to run to the Starbucks and I was actually fast enough to make it inside without having to just get soaked and pretend that was okay, that I didn't mind, that there are worse things than slowing down the whole group and being embarrassed and cold and wet, because what the hell...it's just CF, right? Thank you for the fact that my family seems less worried. For yesterday on Long Island. For the fact that I am now looking forward to my cousin's wedding next summer, and I'm not questioning whether I'll be here to see it. For the fact that I actually believe I might be able to throw a 30th birthday party. For tonight. For tomorrow. For everything.
My God, thank you. Just thank you.
Now that I think about it, though, I guess I was lying when I said that I didn't know much about you aside from your general age and sex. That's not exactly true, right? Because I know you were selfless enough to think about others. I know you came from a family willing to put aside their own grief at an extremely difficult moment and make the choice to help me and (most likely) several other people. I know at least that much, and I think that's pretty important.
I have to be honest here: I really hope that you can use that kindness and that empathy for others when you look down on me. Because I know so well that I'm not perfect. I'm reminded of that every single day in one way or another. And as much as I strive to be grateful and happy and excited about this precious gift of life, as much as I promise to try and live each day to the fullest, I know there will be mistakes along the way. I know there will be days when I'm unhappy about things, whether they be inconsequential annoyances or bigger problems. I know that sometimes I will look up and see the moon and not be overwhelmed by a sense of beauty -- it will just be the moon and nothing more. I know that I will get tired, and angry, and frustrated, and overwhelmed. I will sigh unnecessarily loud. I will complain to people around me. I will judge others. I will roll my eyes. I will squeeze out dramatic tears and expect sympathy. I will shoot someone an undeserved look of annoyance. And I will rant. If you don't believe me, just ask the readers of this blog -- they've seen it before, I promise.
I do promise to try to make sure the good days outnumber the bad. I promise to try and correct my mistakes when I make them. But I know that I will make them, and I hope you can understand that. After all, you were human too, right?
I truly hope that you feel as strongly as I do that we make an awesome team. I know we've only recently met, but I feel as though we were meant to be together all along. You are a seamless part of me now, which is not to say that I've forgotten you or your gift. On the contrary, I think of you often, but I also accept that you made the choice to allow me to live my life. You entrusted these lungs to me in the hopes that I would use them to fully realize myself. And so I admit that regardless of my overwhelming sense of gratitude, I'm not actually living for you, although I do feel your presence. I don't consider the start of our time together to be my (re-)birthday, for example, although some people seem to encourage this approach. I feel strongly that you would understand that I lived 28 years without you, and that my life had meaning then too and I don't want to negate that. Just as your life had and continues to have meaning well beyond your gift to me. So we'll just consider June 12 to be our special private anniversary, okay? The day we, as two separate individuals, got the chance together to do something pretty darn miraculous.
I continue to pray every day for you and your family. Your "name" is still written on my transplant bear, as a constant reminder that I didn't come this far alone. And for what it's worth I think Sampson also likes you quite a bit, as he seems to really enjoy snuggling up on the couch and listening to my breathing these days.
Most of all I just want you to know that you're constantly remembered by someone who was never lucky enough to know you in real life, but who will think of you whenever she gets caught in the rain.
With Every Breath,
- I am a 33-year-old wife, sister, daughter, friend, law school graduate, CFer, lifelong student of public service, blog writer, patient, Sagittarius, reader, Top chef fan, double-lung transplant recipient (twice!), and dog owner living in Colorado's beautiful Mile High City. I love all things colorful, funny, inspiring, or needlessly sarcastic. I share my city with about 2,500,000 other remarkable people, share my disease with 70,000 other beautiful souls, share my life with some unbelievable family and friends, and share my apartment with one very handsome guy and one really fat mutt with a kick-butt personality. We make it work.
About This Blog:
This blog is about me, my life, my sometimes craziness, my disease, and my current journey as a double-lung transplant recipient. It's also a celebration of everyone out there with CF (and other chronic illnesses). It's for you, inspired by you, and dedicated to you -- the community that keeps me writing, living, and breathing.
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