Sunday, December 21, 2008

Remembering, Celebrating Anniversary No. 4

The phone rang at 5:25 AM on Friday morning. Four years ago, it was all I could do to wait until 6 AM to make the call. Nancy answered the phone to report that, with a snow storm on the way, school was canceled for Alex and Tasha. I joked that I thought it was NYU saying they had a liver for me. Of course, 4 years ago, I was dialing Nancy on Dec. 19 to tell her this was "the call we've been waiting for." Friday's snow brought only slight disappointment. I was looking forward to reading "The Giving Tree" to Tasha's 2nd grade class as part of my re-birthday celebration. Still, up early with phone call, I got a pre-snow walk in the woods - the activity I dreamed of while bedridden among the angels of NYU. The deer were out, the oblivious, crazy lady who parks in the middle of the street near the trains station was out, a beautiful day. I said my prayers in the woods, the way I always do, a Spanish Hail Mary, "thank you, Lord, for most this amazing day" and, as ever, thanks for the blessing - the Gift of Life - from my donor and her family. All I know of her is that she was 53 years old when she died and her organs were removed for donation at a hospital in The Bronx. Feeling a special pull with the Powers That Be - on my re-birth day, I said an extra prayer for all of you and all of your special intentions. I will write again to my donor family (NYU didn't have a holiday party for the transplant recipients this year - the ocassion when I normally hand in my letter) as I've done each year. I'll never lose sight of how fortunate and blessed I am in receiving my transplant - so many hundreds have died before and after me on the waiting list - and I'll never forget that am alive today because someone died. I remain in awe at he courage and heroism of my donor family and hope to meet them someday to thank them in person.
Alex made a snowman in the perfect pack snow and we walked the winter wonderland of the neighborhood. Later we had hot chocolate and warmed by the fire, reading aloud from The Tale of Despereaux, a chapter each among the four of us. The snow didn't keep Santa from coming to the local firehouse (where Nancy found solace among incredibly generous friends and neighbors 4 years earlier, on the day that I turned down an offer of a liver from an 80-year old man because it would be a better match for someone else) and Santa's opening act, as ever, was the incredible Great Scott, the world's greatest magician, who, as Alex says, has the same haircut as Dr. Lew Teperman, who leads NYU's transplant team - and is a bit of magician himself.
My wish for the holidays - the takeaway from all of this - enjoy every day, savour every moment.
And tell everyone you know that Organ Donation saves lives - and anyone and everyone can be a donor!


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