April is Donate Life Month

April for the Transplant Community, is special. Why? Because April is Donor Life Month. It is in the month that we as recipients, team staff members, doctors, caregivers – everyone involved – recognize those that make all of these amazing and incredible things possible – the donors and their beautiful families.

Throughout the month, this is done in various ways. There are walks and runs, charity events like galas and dinners, campaigns online to raise awareness, or even smaller events around the community to encourage organ donor registration.
Last week, I received an invitation to The Methodist Hospital Celebration of Life. It’s a very special event inviting the Methodist Transplant Community together to recognize the donor families and their special importance to all of us.
Yesterday at support group, we talked about what would happen there. I’ve never been, obviously, because I just had my transplant last month. It’s not like a marathon run or a gala. It’s for our Transplant Family to get together and meet each other and donor families. The will be ceremonies of appreciation, speeches, and stories. The social worker there described it as, “very emotional.”
Just sitting here thinking about it, I imagine it as being “very emotional.”
I’m extremely excited about attending this event and feeling a part of this. Being able to see my fellow recipients, meet them and talk to them about their experiences and where they are in their lives right now.
But most of all, I look forward to being to meet and express myself (if I have the courage) to some of the donor families. I have not had contact with my own donor family as of yet, so being able to speak to them and maybe express to them a few of the things locked in my heart, those deep words of gratitude (although that doesn’t even seem to be an adequate word, does it) would feel…
Gosh, I really don’t think there’s really a way to describe it in normal human vocabulary. I think that’s why it would take so much courage.
Everyone that really knows me knows that since I was a kid, I cope with the stress of my illness through deflection with humor, and disassociation of just removing myself from a situation I don’t want to be in, either physically or mentally, if necessary. Yes, I just admitted this to the entire planet. This isn’t news, people. (Ah, there it is. Deflection.)  Now that I have my new lungs, I want to heal myself of all of these yucky bad habits, and feel and react like a normal person who wasn’t sick her whole life would. I know this isn’t an overnight thing, and will take work and time, but another thing about me is that I’m extremely stubborn and determined. That’s why I’ve done so well so far with my recovery physically, add why I’ll do even better with this part, too. Anyway, I digress.
I think I really, really digressed. Sorry.
I think, for me, expressing myself in this way will be healing. I have a deep, deep emotional gratitude for my donor and their family for what they did for me and mine. Without their gift, I wouldn’t be planning for my future. I wouldn’t have had one. Gratitude? Appreciation? Those words are tiny in comparison to what I think tansplant recipients really feel. What I really feel.
So, April is Donate Life Month. How are you celebrating?

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