I spent today feeling hopeless. I couldn't concentrate. I wanted to work on Building Beyond Me, but it felt like it was a useless idea and that there was no point in continuing the effort. I went to Starbucks to sit and work, thinking a change of scenery would put me more on point. It didn't. Hours later I walked out the side door, defeated.
By the time I got to the other side of the parking lot, everything changed. In the back window of a car was a sign. It barely caught my eye as I passed, but I turned back to read it anyways.
My daughter needs a kidney.
Please call if you want to save a life and be a DONOR.
I immediately reached for my phone to snap a picture, but then noticed there were people in the car. I hesitated. Would it be... well, rude isn't quite right... awkward, maybe, if I took a picture? I walked to the door and waited for it to open.
Out of the driver's door stepped a somewhat frail looking woman with turquoise necklaces around her neck and sunglasses over a pair of regular glasses. As she took off the glasses, I saw a puzzled look on her face, and I stumbled over my words as a man got out of the passenger door. The man quickly came around the car to the side of the woman, protectively.
"Would you mind if I take a picture of the sign in the window?"
Rachel was driving her mother's car. I didn't meet the person who's daughter is going to die without a kidney transplant. I met the person who is going to die without a kidney transplant. The man who rushed to her side was Howard (ugh my memory is terrible, I hope that's right). I assume he was her partner. Whatever the case, there was love between them, and pain in his eyes.
I asked if there was anything posted anywhere, something that could be shared. I asked about compatibility of donors. I hope I wasn't being rude. My mind took me into fix-it mode, and I was desperately searching the index cards of my mind for a solution.
Someone donated a kidney to Rachel, but it wasn't a match. Rather than being devastated by that, she was so grateful that someone else who needed a kidney had their life saved. Why couldn't it have been a match for her? It seemed to me so unfair that she found a donor, no small feat, and yet still has to suffer the agony of dialysis 4 days a week, as she's done for the past three years.
There is a silver lining, if you can stretch that far. It turns out that when someone donates an organ on behalf of another person and that organ is not a match, but goes to another recipient, the person they intended to donate to is moved higher up on the list of candidates. The concept makes sense, but feels a little strange at first blush. It's like referring customers to Melaleuca and having them pay me a referral fee.
As we said our goodbyes, Rachel gave me a hug. Someone who is dealing with so much, having so little energy, gave to me her time and a hug. And suddenly purpose returned.