These late summer days and hours, moments even, hold more leaden weight than I could have foreseen.
Just a day or so ago I commented to a friend that I hardly realized that my 'First Birthday' was approaching as things feel so darn...normal...around here. Appropriate, also, that this conversation took place after a yoga class where the theme was approaching life and practice as a newborn, to the fullest, without limitation.
This morning, after doing my morning Sun Salutations (650..350 to go!), I switched on the television for some noise while I got dressed. As fate would have it (I will not call it luck, though maybe I should...), the boob tube was already tuned in to VH1, which was playing music videos. Who knew they did that anymore. Anyway, my timing being as impeccable as ever, this was the video that began as if on cue from my remote (go ahead, watch it. grab some Kleenex):
Right. After I stopped sobbing, I turned off the TV and sat down to reflect. A strange word, that. 'Reflect'. This song reminded me so much of Sarah Chidgey. As in, I could see her face again. Hear her. I'm not typically one for this sort of thinking but, and please don't judge here, I felt like there was a reason why I switched on this song when I did. That I thought of her nearly a year to the day from the moment I met her. During my reflection I became honest to myself that, as much as I pretend to be tough, pretend that I have strength, that I was maybe never terribly fearful except for a few moments of absolute weakness, I am deeply, DEEPLY terrified of dying young. Not even just fearful dying, that in looking into my reflection I realized that I didn't want to have this life severed before I could make a mark on the world. Sarah did that. Sarah is still doing that. There is a great wide world of life that I've yet to see and do, taking these memories with me and giving. Paying it forward and back and onward. To make a difference in this world that has nothing to do with being 'known'. That has to do with being a servant and being unknown but giving to make a change that is known.
I think back to this day last year and of Sarah plopping down next to me in that waiting room, giant bag in tow. Of her voice, her laugh and her smile. She had a presence that led me to continue contact with her and reading her story. Her words at the end have changed me forever. More than the pain of my CVC insertion one year ago, these are the things that I remember.
As a patient, the world revolves around you and your needs. My memories from this time last year are not of my sister's 21st birthday, of spending sticky summer nights under the stars with P or going to hear my brother play. They are of my own pain. It is a selfish existence and one that I am keen to both leave behind entirely and also bring with me. My heart turns from my own self-preservation back out to give love. To give thanks. To bow my head in awe and open my arms in surrender to the world.
Tonight, I wonder what my donor is doing and thinking. It is difficult to write here how the lump in my throat feels rising when I think of him and what he did. Of the humility I feel at the year of life that was freely given by a stranger. That, my sweet friends, is a difference made.