September 5, 2016

The gift of the 1000th day

Post-transplant day #1000. The true gift.

We went out for steak. And then gelato. We dressed nicely and made a date night out of it. We chanced upon another couple in the park and asked them to take our picture, and then we told them our story.

Tonight we celebrated our 1000th day into our second life, our 1000thnew borrowed dawn, our 1000th safe night's sleep.

When I asked my fiancée over the appetizer what she has learned, she thought a minute and then a surprising gush of goals marked and dreams achieved came forth. We talked over what she had wanted before transplant, and what has actually come true. For the most part, everything her heart desired has happened or is about to.

As our discussion got more detailed about what we had dared to hope pre-transplant for our post-transplant life, it seems our goals were more aligned than we previously realized. Both of us dared to hope that we might find somebody to settle down with, perhaps even someone who'd been through what we'd been through. We dared to hope that that person wouldn't see us primarily as a medical case, but first as a person. We dared to hope that we would understand each other's careers, interests, and passions. We dared to hope these things, and so maybe our meeting wasn't as much chance as destiny.

Through succulent steaks and savory sides, we remembered and celebrated. We didn't dwell on the stresses of transplant life or the present stresses of job-hunting or cancer. We toasted our donors and moved on, which somehow seems to be the very point. Move on! We have healed, our donors' families have had time to heal, April and I (and Mac and Mable and Sadie) have come together to form a new family, and we look to our futures with a lot of...well....hope. Eternal hope.

We're not forgetting our friends, of course, those who are struggling to make their 1000 days, or who have already required re-transplant. We certainly don't forget those who didn't make it. They're never far from our minds, as they live in our hearts; and with the very recent deaths of Korinna Conron and Talana Fairfax, we are more determined than ever to keep up the good fight and to carry their memories with us.

April is the match I long awaited and I love her in ways I never imagined. Our love is inextricably bound up in our transplant story. And tonight, over drips of gelato, we reminded ourselves that our story is no longer one just of surviving, but of Living, Laughing, and Loving.

THIS is the true gift -- the Gift of the 1000th Day.