Today’s the day. It’s the day when everyone in the U.S. pauses and thinks about being thankful. Thankful Facebook statuses roll up my screen one after another. Thankful for family, friends, spouse, pets, house, new job, provision, troops, Jesus, new baby. Scroll, scroll, scroll.
I just noticed a difference in my news feed. Every page has an update from someone who is my friend now who wasn’t last year. I’ve got a boatload of new friends. Most of my new friends post thankful statuses every week at one time or another while the rest complain about jobs, weather, jerks, politics or post pictures of food they eat or post things that make us laugh. My new friends post sappy sayings about determination, life and love. And my new friends share my new vocabulary: encephalopathy, MELD, cirrhosis, platelets, I.N.R., C.M.P. and use the abbreviation “tx” for transplant. My new friends are thankful for organ donors. Me too. Like me, they are thankful to be alive.
Yeah, I know, you’re thankful to be alive too but I doubt you really understand the depth of that statement unless you’ve been through something that has made you think, “This is probably my last Thanksgiving” or “I wonder if I will be here for Christmas?” Or, you’ve lived it with someone you love. I know that, for me, “thankful” today is deeper than the “thankful” of last year.
My chef son, Donald Jake, is 20 feet away from me slicing vegetables for something called “mirepoix” which makes our turkey extra tender and delicious. My biochemist son Josh is sleeping in our spare bedroom while my wife is dreaming in our bed. My daughter and her husband are probably just starting to stir for the day at their house and my puppy is licking my foot. I’m thankful. Deeply, tearfully, thankful.
Last Thanksgiving I was staring death in the eye. My belly and lungs were full of fluid from my liver disease, my muscles were weak and my head was foggy from pain numbing Ocycodone and encephalopathy. Truthfully, I really don’t remember much of last Thanksgiving. I know I was functioning on one lung. I remember being glad to still be alive to be with my family. And, I remember being sure that it would likely be my last Thanksgiving if I was not able to get a transplant.
Life is crazy.
Thanksgiving 2010 – everything is awesome. Josh graduated from Bates and began his Phd. work, Jake graduated high school and was beginning at the Culinary Institute of America and Shara’s boyfriend had recently asked me for my daughter’s hand in marriage. Robin and I were beginning a whole new faith adventure by leaving the church I had served for eleven years.
Thanksgiving 2011 – the Linscott world revolves around me and my care. I am unable to work, dependent on a mobility scooter and am hospitalized frequently. Thanksgiving 2012, even Christmas 2012 is not guaranteed. “Transplant” is now one of the most used words in our vocabulary.
Thanksgiving today – Josh has a 12 inch scar from navel to the middle of his chest and I have a 15 inch L-shaped scar from my breastbone to my side under my right elbow. We now share the same liver. I am starting to be able to work again and he is finishing up his Phd and applying to Med schools. Shara and her husband just bought a house, Jake finished his chef certification and we attended his graduation in NY. Robin and I live in a new, much smaller house and enjoy every day together.
Thankful has become THANKFUL.
My new friends’ status updates frequently include thanks to organ donor families regardless of the time of year. The reality is that without the selfless love of organ donors, neither I nor my new liver friends would be here celebrating with our families today.
Today I have many friends who are waiting for transplants. Close to 120,000 Americans are waiting and 18 people die each day because of a lack of organ donors. In the midst of tragedy, a second tragedy is repeated many, many times each day as life giving organs go unused.
Today, my Aunt Betty is in a hospital bed at Lahey Clinic alive because of the love and unselfishness of a 49 year old man who took the time to register and his family who honored his wishes in the midst of their shock and grief. Their gift of his organs allowed my aunt, and others, to have a second chance at life. Eleven days ago, Aunt Betty received the gift of a new liver.
I’m alive today because of a living donor. My aunt is alive and beginning recovery because of a gift from people she may never know. My family, with two life-saving transplants in one year, is especially thankful.
Please, right now, in the midst of your Thanksgiving activities, I’m asking you to take just 5 minutes right now to click www.organdonor.gov and register to be an organ donor. Though none of us wants to think of an unexpected, immediate end to our life, we all know that tomorrow is never guaranteed. Please let some good come from tragedy should the unspeakable occur.
I used to be thankful, but now? Now I am THANKFUL with great big, loud letters.
Do you see what we’ve got? An unshakable kingdom! And do you see how thankful we must be? Not only thankful, but brimming with worship, deeply reverent before God. For God is not an indifferent bystander. Heb. 12:28