When was the last time you openly wept tears of joy? Like, no holding back, sobbing? When was the last time you just sobbed with your whole heart because you have been given the gift of hope, something you had not felt in a long time?
Sobbing so hard you can’t make out words, just a series of grunts that have to be decipher thru your ugly cry face. But despite how deformed your cry face is it is so ugly that it is cute, like a pug. As you choke out tears because you are so happy, you have no control over your facial muscles and you can’t breathe and you are freely drooling. Can you remember? Well I can, it was January 17, 2013 at about 5:20 P.M.
I was lying on my bed chatting with my boyfriend. I knew that my dear friend Jess had started the process to see if she was a kidney match. I knew that the Transplant Team was reviewing her case that day to determine if she would be a good candidate to be a donor. The fact that Jess was even going through the process meant the world to me. Making the choice to give a part of your body to someone is an extremely selfless task and frankly, an inconvenience. You are submitting yourself to voluntary surgery all to improve the quality of life for a loved one.
So when I saw that Jess was calling me I immediately picked up, either way, I wanted to know as soon as possible.
“Hey Jess. How are you?” (Not only was I anxious to know, I also wanted to keep it casual, not come off too desperate for good news. I had gotten my hopes up before and I didn’t need to feel that fall again.)
“Hey Mara, I am pretty good. So I hope you are ready to take care of my kidney because I am a match.”
And that is when the weeping started. I crumbled. The news I had been waiting for, hoping for, praying for was finally being delivered and part of me couldn’t believe it. After years of being ill and the last year of hospital stays, surgery and dialysis, a big part of me thought that there was no end in sight. Jess wasn’t just giving me a new kidney; she was giving me a fresh start to reclaim my life.
To be honest with you, if I could have chosen any friend to have a small part of it would be Jess.
I have known Jess since I was about 10 years old. We weren’t real buddy buddy when we were kids. We were in rival classes and you didn’t cross those loyalty lines. But as we grew older, we became closer and by my senior year of high school we were the best of friends.
In college, we helped each other through the first year in the dorms and broken hearts by dancing around to Rusted Roots “ Send me On My Way” in our dorm room. Sophomore and junior year we had many good times as roommates making s’mores, cuddling on the couch, spring break road trips and throwing some pretty amazing parties if I don’t mind saying so myself.
When we graduated from college, Jess and Bryce’s home was a place of comfort for me. Always welcoming with some delicious snack Jess was putting together. When I first started feeling the effects of fatigue, Jess and Bryce let me take naps at their apartment during my lunch break or before a show because their house was so much closer than mine.
When they moved to Los Angeles I was devastated. Who was I supposed to be the third wheel for now? The distance did not change our closeness as no matter how far away, Jess and Bryce are the type of friends that that just seem to get better with age. It was an honor to speak at their wedding not only because I loved them both so much but I respect them both deeply.
Even when we were little, Jess was always cool, confident, strong and intelligent. I always admired her. She’s an amazing athlete, a dedicate teacher, a loyal friend, a wonderful sister, a caring daughter, the person you want in your corner when things go wrong. She is adventurous and curious. She is a calming presence that always seems to bring reason to any situation. She gives great hugs and a world class snuggler. And there is no one better to veg out on the couch with in your pajamas.
Jess has always been there for me. Always. I can’t remember a time that she hasn’t talked me through a broken heart, a fight with a family member, or just a bad day. Everyone deserves a friend like Jess. I am fortunate because I have the genuine article.
She has always taken care of me and now she is giving me the ultimate gift. It feels so right getting it from Jess, someone I love and respect so much. She has been such a vital part of my life and will continue to be. We are going to go on vacation together. Our kids will play together. Our holidays will be filled with laughter and we will have too many great memories to keep in a scrap book. All because of Jess. All because she made the brave choice to be a donor and save my life. Jess is my hero. She is rescuing from a life of fluid, cathters, swelling, dialysis, fatigue, nausea and pain. She has given me the gift of hope, life and friendship and I could not be more thankful.