As many of you know my Dad has been very sick over the last 5 years. He has been on dialysis and it has literally been keeping him alive and killing him at the same time:( He has been dealing with excruciating pain for the 5 years. Not to mention it was told to him that when he started dialysis, that most people of his age only make it about 5 years on average. I’m not really sure why none of us realized the urgency of this diagnosis. I mean, we all knew that at some point he would need a kidney transplant. I guess we all thought (including my Dad) that he would never get cleared to be strong enough to get through a surgery of that extent. Oh, and 5 years flies by like it’s a year!!! Where the hell did the time go?
When it came time to talk about a possibility of a transplant, there was stalling from all parties…the hospital, the family, my Dad. But the time had come where something had to give, because he just couldn’t stay on dialysis for any longer! Because 5 out of the 7 kids carry a mutated gene that my Dad has, they were immediately ruled out as doners. Yours truly was ruled out because I have a brilliant MS diagnosis permanently on my record;) So that left my Mom and my sister that lives in Taipei. After discussions, my Dad said that he would rather receive from my Mom. My Dad was still in the process of getting cleared by the doctors to do the transplant, but my mom was brave enough to begin the process of getting cleared while we waited for an answer on my Dad’s end. All the while I can hear Jake’s voice of two years ago saying, “why is no one looking into giving a kidney if we all know he needs one? I would give him mine.” I remember the moment vividly when we were up visiting my sister in Seattle waiting to hear the news from my Mom’s results. We could tell from the dismay on her face that it was a no:(
This was the moment that she told my dad with huge tears of disappointment in her eyes and apologizing to him for not being able to give her kidney. It was so intense and I still can’t explain why my first reaction to intense moments like this is to run and grab my camera, but I am sure glad that I did, because I was able to capture this tender moment. My dad looked up at her with his big banjo, brown eyes and said, “It’s ok, I’m not mad…you did your best. You’re still my favorite buddy”.
My immediate reaction was, “Next up, Jake Carlisle!” Jake and I had had many conversations about it up to this point, so I felt confident in fancying the thought in the time of despair:) This is the part when I start to glow about the man that I am in love with. Not only did he say yes, he started the process faster than I could get myself home from Seattle. And he didn’t let up until he got the ‘yes’ that he knew he would find on this journey. He started in November 2011 and here we are in June 2012 celebrating his YES! I credit him for this possibility even arising to save my family from the endless worry that we had become accustomed to. He is like no other person that I have ever met and I continue to be in awe of his beautiful spirit and ability to face adversity with the attitude of “well, let’s DO something”. There are so many moments, words and moments that I have been able to witness in this process that I am inspired by daily.
One moment was when Jake and I were having an intimate conversation (that of course I would share with the world later:) and he told me that this whole thing was a no-brainer. “You’re Dad will die soon if I don’t do this, and there are no other options on the table. I feel like I am giving my kidney to my own father.” Many of you know the story of Jake and his biological Dad, for those of you don’t, it is another Oprah story that you will have to read in his book one day:) Because he never grew up loving a father, my Dad was his first Father-love! Just between you and me, I am pretty sure that if Willie (his biological dad) needed a kidney before he died, I have a hunch Jake would have offered to him as well. He’s just that kind of guy! There is so much healing on all ends of this transplant. Jake giving life to a father figure. Dad taking an offering of such magnitude from an ‘outsider’ of the family. Healing of a racial past that wasn’t my Dad’s to carry, just history that he played into. Helping my family to let go of fear and worry through his relaxed, optimistic spirit. He has brought a love to my family that I don’t think we have ever known.
Another moment that made me gasp in awe was when he told me the other night that he was starting to feel the extent of what he was about to do, physically and mentally. I started to go to my worry place thinking that he was going to show me doubt, but what came next out of his mouth was sheer inspiration. I asked him what he meant and how he felt and he replied in one simple word….”COURAGEOUS, I feel courageous about the whole thing”. This is when I burst into tears and told him that the word he picked for the year was courage!!! Then I think I told him to be more careful with his word choice next year;) Our conversation continued about what he admired about my Dad. Immediately he said, his legacy. He has build such an loving model of family and Jake has always been enamored with what Mom and Dad have created together. As you can tell from the masses below…I think just about anyone would be in awe of this brood (by sheer mass alone)!!
There is so much play, fun, laughter, respect, loyalty, bliss and absolute chaos in this family and I am so inspired by my Dad’s dreams. He never grew up in a family of blood relatives to give him a sense of belonging, so I am pretty sure that the desire to belong guided him to the words that he would tell my mom every time she would question whether or not she wanted another baby….”trust me Marcia”. I’m sure glad that she did, because she was already questioning him by me (#6).
So here is to trusting Dad that he can do this. That there is a bigger plan then we can see. Here’s to my husband for proving to my family that anything is possible. I am beyond happy going into this surgery and I completely trust in the plan. I am happy that my family has all chosen HOPE over fear and worry and that we have come together stronger than ever. Here’s to the journey to come, celebrating life and loving who we are and that we are all here for big reasons:)
This was at the little church out at the Lake and everyone gave Jake a beautiful blessing (I won’t attach the video, just in case the song wasn’t as beautiful as I remember;)
If you haven’t already checked out the video that I created for my Dad’s birthday, check it out and have a good ol’ cleansing cry with us!