I was 26 at the time -- one year out of law school and knee deep in my first "real" job as an associate in one of New York City's major law firms. I was young, happy, excited about my career, and just on the cusp of multiplying my life by the sum of one very active and playful little furball/puppy. You could practically hear the themes song for the Mary Tyler Moore Show swelling around me as I tossed my proverbial beret high into the Manhattan skyline. Oh, and I had just been told by my doctor that after 26 years of living with cystic fibrosis, it was time for me to start the evaluation process for a double-lung transplant.
To quote Mr. Dickens: it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
I don't really know what I expected out of this blog, but I can tell you pretty honestly what I didn't expect. I didn't expect the following that you guys have given me -- the beautiful comments or the thought-provoking questions. I didn't expect the relief of sharing my story across the wires -- how crucial to my sanity and truly cathartic this online journal of sorts would become as my journey progressed. I didn't expect the joy or the fear that comes alone with opening one's heart (and lungs) up to anyone with a keyboard and the desire to read along for a few pages -- the excitement of logging on to a blank page and the thrill of anticipation when I finally hit that "submit post" button. I didn't expect that I would write my way right through that first transplant and on to the craziness of chronic rejection. Heck, I didn't expect to ever be writing the words "first transplant." I certainly didn't expect to be here -- 2,000 miles, 6 years, 2 new sets of lungs, and one wedding ring later -- trying desperately to find the words to restart the story.
Yet here I am. And on Christmas Eve no less.
I think it's fitting that the eve of my second first transplant anniversary falls on a night in which we celebrate a birth. It comes at a time full of childhood magic, and it brings with it the wonder of a night that -- through the light of a single star -- brought with it a whole new dawn. It is a night that changes as we grow, moving from the candy-striped glitter of reindeer hooves and elf-made toys to the hope and prayers for new life, for peace, for all those intangible gifts that we never once thought to ask for from Santa. It is a night that reminds us all how one life can change the entire world. That the story as we know it might be constantly changing, but it is far from over.
So as I lie here tonight, still at last after the sickness and the chaos of the past year, the breath within my chest an even and soothing rhythm, overwhelmed with gratitude and surrounded by grace, I am struck by one thought to get me through this first Christmas Eve with my beloved Donor Nick:
All is calm,
All is bright.
And the story is just beginning.