Today is a day to celebrate!
It’s one year since Brian’s kidney transplant and I wanted to share something I wrote only days afterward. There are ways to write a letter to the family of a donor. I hope I am not stepping over a line here, but this is my way of speaking to the people who gave my brother his life back.
July 20, 2013
Dear Anonymous Angels,
I will try my best to keep this letter brief, but because my gratitude to you is both endless and boundless, it can’t possibly really be expressed using any words to any real satisfaction. Yet, here I go anyway …
This is fresh because I am writing to you all one week after it happened, after the accident that would change your life forever…and the gift you would give to my family as a result. I go back and forth as to whether or not I want to write this, at all, but I am doing so now because I need to say this. I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t want to hear it, but maybe that’s just my own guilt talking; maybe you’d grasp for what I have to say…if only because it is something to show for your loss, when there is nothing I nor anyone else could ever truly say to make your pain any less.
Before one week ago you were alive…full of life and laughter and love. You walked and spoke and thought. You had a beating heart. How do I know this? You signed your donor card. You spoke to your family about what your wishes would ever be if the unthinkable happened and your family had to make the ultimate in painful and heart-wrenching choices. The ethics of organ donation are so widely debated, but the real discussions are had between couples, families, and inside each individual’s own thoughts. I have been directly involved in such discussions, on the one side, for years and I still find myself torn deep to my core. Your selflessness is evident, no matter what else I could say or wonder about you. I don’t know you and never will, but I get to know a little piece of you now, inside my loved one.
I went first. I got sick. That wasn’t what I wanted for my little brother. I want you to learn a little bit about the life you’ve just saved:
I have read and heard many a definition of the word “soulmate” and I know what most people think when they hear it. To me, it doesn’t have to have anything to do with romantic interest or attachment. My younger brother is my soulmate. He is one person out of billions that I have an attachment to which I won’t, don’t and will never have with anyone else. He is my brother, my support, my friend, my pal, my conscience, and my hero. He challenges me, calls me out on things, pushes me when needed and pulls back at just the right time. He is my best friend and my toughest critic. People make jokes about how they must be adopted…well I say my brother and I must be twins, but not fraternal or identical: just twins of every other name.
We are the youngest two born out of four: we share the same syndrome, with its lack of sight, damaged kidneys, and the rest. We think so similarly that it often frightens me to think of it. He knows me, sees me, and reads me more clearly than anyone I’ve ever met. We’re family, but so much more…we’re accomplices in crime and two-of-a-kind. We’re quite the pair. I am his protector and he is mine. No one has my back and my best interest at heart like he does. His humour makes me smile whenever I need cheering up. We laugh until our sides hurt, about our own private jokes, the private language we two alone share. We talk and philosophize about the world and everything in it, desperate to understand our place.
I want you to know all this about him because you gave him back to me. You have given him his new lease on life. Nothing will stop him now. His determination and his strength continually astonish me and they are there more than ever; now his physical limitations can’t hold him back.
We’ve done this before, been here before, but that last time was different. There’s no question in a parent’s need and desire to give a kidney to their child; my father and mother…I got his and my brother got hers. This was never the end of the story and we all knew it, but I could never have imagined how it would feel now. I ache for you all; I hurt, and for unnamed and unknown people somewhere out there whom I have never met. You didn’t know us, or have reason to help, but yet here we are and you did. Why …?
I realize the abrupt stop above. I got to that point and my emotions took over. That is as far as I got and thought it best to leave it there.
Please! Today take the time to be thankful for the life and health you and your loved ones have. Not everyone has that now.
Thanks for listening.