Many years ago I met Mom's friend Debbie - a funny and somewhat irreverent woman who lived in a remodeled barn nearby. She had a daughter who I babysat once. (as some of you know, small children freak me out...so clearly babysitting was not a good choice. In fact, I'm pretty sure that part of the way through that evening I had to call my big sister Karen to come and help me out)
Debbie is the kind of woman who is always smiling. But not in that fake perky way that also freaks me out...she just has this genuine happiness around her. And she is one of the VERY few people in this world who has permission to call me Christine. (I'm serious...don't try it...you have to be extremely special to me) She laughs easily and often.
A long period of time passed when I only heard about how she was doing in passing...and did her taxes once a year. She always rewards me with a pumpkin roll...and hers are the best I've ever eaten. So, I was kind of surprised when I saw her a few years ago and realized she was on oxygen. She isn't much older than I am.
I didn't want to be rude and ask what was going on (I probably should have known! How self-involved was I that I didn't know??) so later I asked Mom what was going on. She let me know that Debbie needed a lung transplant.
A lung transplant? It just seemed inconceivable to me that this funny and vibrant woman would be in that situation. But it was true. Until yesterday.
Today she has new lungs and is already sitting up in chairs!! I know she has a long road of recovery ahead. And there are unknown risks and obstacles that may lie ahead. But for today - she has this incredible gift from an unknown source.
I had to stop and think for a moment when I read the email Sunday night - that a donor had been found and that she was scheduled for surgery. Because I also had to face the fact that this wondrous and joyful news that we were receiving meant that another family was having to face the opposite.
I have been an organ donor since my very first driver's license when I turned 16. And my family knows that my desire is that EVERY single piece of my body that can possibly be used for someone else should be. The rest can be scattered to the winds.
If you aren't an organ donor - tell me why. Because I really can't think of a reason that box isn't checked on your driver's license. And I would like to understand the other point of view.
And if you haven't had that conversation with your family letting them know what you want...please do it as soon as you possibly can. Don't make them have to decide for you while they are in the midst of the crisis of losing you. It is a hard decision to make if you don't know - and the hours spent pondering are precious ones for those waiting for organs.
Thank you to the person who gave Debbie her new lungs. Thank you to the family that said "yes" when the doctor had to ask that very sensitive question "do you know if your loved one wished to be an organ donor?"
Organ donors rock.