I was in the grocery store this morning picking up weekly supplies when I saw a little girl of about 7 years old watching in awe as her mom piled three bags of discounted Easter candy into a basket. She was clutching a stuffed rabbit and as I passed by, I heard her excitedly announce to her mom and all the world that she was grateful for "God, my puppy, and Easter chocolate!" Most of us standing in the aisle started laughing at her enthusiasm, with one man standing near her whispering "amen" under his breath. We smiled at each other for a moment and then went our separate ways -- 6 strangers united for one second in a shared moment of humor and understanding.
I totally agree with the little girl, by the way. Half-priced chocolate bunnies and jelly beans are some of my favorite treats too, and I left the store thoroughly stocked up on pastel-colored sweets. But I would also add something to her list of April blessings. I'm grateful for the people in my life, too, and for those moments of connection we as people can have even with complete strangers. I'm thankful that we're all, at the end of the day, made up of the same wonderful stuff. And I'm especially grateful for one particular stranger who made the decision nearly 3 years ago to save my life -- and probably the lives of several others as well. Words can't even express how blessed I feel each and every day to be surviving, breathing, and LIVING with these lungs. It is, I am pretty much convinced, one of the closest experiences we as humans can have to being part of a miracle.
Passover is all about new beginnings as a nation. Easter is about the miracle of the resurrection and new life. And April, appropriately enough, is National Donate Life Month in the United States -- a time to honor our donors, give thanks for the incredible gift of continued life here with our loved ones, and reflect on the many ways we as people can make a difference in one another's lives. And while I could never find enough words to say "thank you" to my beloved "Donor Bob" and his family for making that difficult choice in June, 2010, I hope that I can at least honor his memory by sharing publicly some of what his gift has meant to me. Donor Bob, because of you, I have
Returned home to Colorado for the first time in years (and actually gone skiing!);
Had more time with my mother, father, sister, grandmother, extended family, and godmother;
Celebrated 3 birthdays so far, including my 30th -- more than double the life-expectancy when I was born;
Completed a degree in public service and deepened my commitment to following your example and helping others;
Made new friends AND kept the old;
Completed a 10K in support of CF awareness and research (without walking!);
Fallen totally in love.
Not a bad list of achievements for a girl who at one point couldn't even climb a flight of stairs without IVs and oxygen, right?
Look, I get that death is a really super scary topic to discuss with your loved ones. Trust me, as a CFer, and as someone who had to start having those conversations in her 20s, I totally get that. None of us, not even us "sick" people, want to think too much about what's going to happen to our bodies when we're no longer around to inhabit them. But it's a discussion that needs to happen, because far too many people, when asked, say they fully support organ donation but just haven't taken the time to sign up, talk to their families, and write down their wishes. And when you consider that ONE organ donor can save up to EIGHT lives (and impact many more) -- well, that's too many lives to be lost simply because we're afraid to have the conversation. It's far too many people to die because we couldn't find the 30 minutes to sit down and be real.
(And by the way, CF community, this message is NOT just for healthy people. One CF friend recently donated her organs after her own double-lung transplant failed, in addition to donating for research. We absolutely CANNOT expect others to do for us what we are unwilling to do for others. So go sign up today, if you haven't already. Seriously.)
To learn more important facts about organ donation, the process, religious perspectives, stories from donors and recipients, statistics about transplants in America, and how YOU can sign up to make kindness your final act on Earth, please visit Donate Life America .