Okay, now this is weird. It’s good weird. I mean, I like it but it was just very unexpected. I had half of my son’s liver stitched into me on May 7 and, for some reason, I immediately started seeing a change in my eyesight.
No, they didn’t pop new eyeballs into my skull (Almost 50,000 people received new corneas in 2011 because of organ donors!). I’ve got the same greenish-blue eyes and still need glasses but something is very, very different with my eyesight.
Let me give you an example of what I mean. Monday evening Robin and I spent some time with a new little family taking portraits. (I’m a photographer) We loved it and had a lot of fun. But once again I noticed something different about the way I see things.
I’ve been looking through the lens since I was a kid. I’ve always loved making pictures and capturing memories. But now, I see things so much more clearly.
I looked at Nick, Caitlin and Avery and saw life. I saw sweet, painful, joyous, hilarious thing life. I pictured their future. I wanted to pull Nick aside and tell him to always put his girls first and see them as the most valuable parts of his world. I wanted to let Caitlin know that being a mom can be rough but there is no more important job. I wanted to tell her to smile at the messes and play in the mud. And I wanted to pick little Avery up and tell her that every bump and fall ahead is an opportunity to grow into a confident, compassionate, beautiful young woman. I wanted to do anything I could to make sure the sparkle in her eyes never fades and her contagious smile never goes away.
It was more than old man melancholy longing for days gone by. I admit, the best way to start me crying is to get me to focus on the days when our children were babies and toddlers, but Monday night was not about that. It was about the gift of life.
These eyes of mine now see the beauty of life all around me. After walking my dog early each morning I sit on the lawn in a white Adirondack chair and watch our neighborhood come to life. I see cats walking to their houses after their overnight hunting excusions. One always stops in the middle of the road, sits and spends about 5 minutes cleaning its paws. He always gives my dog and I a look. The trees are a richer green than I have ever noticed. The pinks and purples of the morning sky are a canvas that I’ve never really studied before.
My neighbor across the street returns from her morning high school swim practice and Karen walks her dog Lucas and stops to say hello while birds sing in the new day. I just sit and watch with a thankful smile on my face. My new eyes make me slow down and appreciate things.
I’ve talked to other liver transplant survivors and they report that they too have new eyes. It really is bizarre. I used to joke with my kids that I was like Chevy Chase in one of his “Vacation” films looking out over the Grand Canyon. “There it is kids, the Grand Canyon. Isn’t it beautiful? … Okay, let’s go!” I’m not that guy anymore.
I wish you could get eyes like mine without going through a struggle for your life. I wish I could give them to you.
How about this? I’d like you to pretend you are me for the next 24 hours. You should have died. You shouldn’t be here to mow your lawn, wash those dishes or play with your kids. You shouldn’t be here to be stuck in that traffic, get a haircut or sing along with the radio. You shouldn’t be here to worry about the things you worry about. You are only alive because of an incredible, sacrificial gift. Just pretend.
For me, that is reality. It explains my new eyes. It explains my new attitude. I shouldn’t be here but, because of an organ donor, I am alive. I’m alive and life is beautiful.
“All those people going somewhere
Why have I never cared?
Give me Your
eyes for just one second
Give me Your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me Your love for humanity”
Complete song and lyrics:
To register to be an organ donor right now, just click here.