5 years ago today, my husband, Kevin, gave me one of his kidneys.
Now, I believe he always knew he would.
Nearly 21 years ago, Kevin and I held hands over the billowy folds of my ivory silk wedding gown, and exchanged our vows. There were 72 people there, but in the unconditional blue of his eyes, Kevin made me feel like the only woman in the world. The idea that I would ever become sick, when presented against my radiant health with my mother’s kidney, had seemed absurd, unthinkable. Yet, the possibility that one day I might reject always existed. Right from the moment Kevin repeated In Sickness and in Health, and acknowledged his promise with a prophetic squeeze of my hand, he was in. All in.
That’s the kind of man Kevin is. When being testing, he decided that if we were not a match, he would donate his kidney anyway, to a desperate stranger, and I would be incorporated into a donor exchange program. But, I do not think either of us were surprised when he was declared a match—the best possible match—like a brother-sister match. Meant to be.
Life with a kidney transplant is not always easy. In fact at times, it is downright challenging. But it is a walk in the park compared to the daily trek up Everest and back that is dialysis. No one “does well” on dialysis, but I barely existed. Sitting up was a challenge, most foods were forbidden. I did not urinate, my skin itched (what else is new!), my nose bled and I forgot how to smile. We both did.
Things got a whole lot worse before they got better (but I hear there is a book being written about that), and today, life is pretty dang fine.
Sweetheart, we are not together today, but you are always with me. The piece of you that exists inside of me is the reason I have anything. How I eat cheese platters and rock out at concerts. Why my fingers dance across the keyboard as I live my dream of writing a book. Your gift is how I can run and travel, cook and clean, read and write.
You are why I smile again.
You are the air that I breathe.
You are the reason I pee.