In about June 1995 and about two months shy of my official 13-year-old official crowning teenage milestone, I had a rejection of my second kidney transplant. Just when I had hoped and believed that everything in my life was maybe back on track, all came crashing down. Leading up to my second kidney transplant, everything seemed to have gone wrong. My health problems were at its worst with me on crutches and using a wheelchair as needed and I was on the roller coaster ride of ready to confront my fear of living my life on a machine that my first kidney transplant could no longer live up to. My family had fallen apart: my mom had left by then, my sister was at college and a complete stranger to me, my Dad was juggling the single parent role, and the introduction of a new woman that my Dad was befriending was slowly coming into our lives (this lady would later be my Stepmom). The rejection was the final straw that broke the camel’s back, and I was too self-centered and self-absorbed to even find the beauty and blessings in receiving the gift of life of my second kidney transplant that I was sure I was on the brink of losing. So, I did what any prepubescent puberty-induced preteen did.
I completely and utterly lost it.
Not in the way that you would probably think. Rather than scream, cry, and go hysterical with explosive angsty teenage anger, I went numb. I had nothing left in me. I hit complete rock bottom. Fury brewed and boiled furiously inside me on the edge of explosion because all I could hear in this dark abyss of a place that thumped mentally torturously at me was: “Why me?”
I think all of us, at some point or another (and multiple points at that), reach the very end of our rope, wander lost, and even enter a dark places in our life where we fight and struggle to dig our way out and be free again. Anger is one letter short of danger. Despair and depression are drowning. The mind and the depths of you can be your best friend, worst enemy, and pulverizing bully. I was convinced that I had all the problems in the world. No one cared. No one’s problems could compare.
After a week of heavy steroids and infusions, my second kidney transplant had survived and has thrived for 21 years and counting. In all these years that I’ve been blessed to have these baby beanies, I’ve seen how life appears for the majority: the marriage, the children, the well-paid job, the grandchildren, retirement, a house, and what seems to be the rather routine daily monotonies. The health problems typically come for the later and the older instead of for the younger and even youngest as it was for me. There have been many times that I have wistfully stood on the sidelines as the minority I know I am, feeling that the grass was greener on the other side and wishing for the surfaced simplicity of the majority. The simple things that people take for granted and seem to have so effortlessly, I have always somewhere deep inside wanted. Like learning to ride a bike. Like falling in love. Like belonging and even getting in a little bit of trouble when I was a teenager. I will never have a baby shower. All these majority milestones, I will not have. I’ve accepted and welcomed that there is a different calling, plan, and purpose for me and that, somewhere along these 21 years, I’ve realized that underneath the surface, people have stuff. Lots of stuff. Heavy baggage. Multiple matching sets of baggage. Perhaps even owning all the conveyer belts of the entire baggage claim department in an airport. Yes, there will always be those who SEEM to have it better. Then, there is always someone who has it bad. Finally, there is always someone who has it even worse.
I was given a great gift upon this realization: Gratitude. Gratitude for everything and everyone I was blessed with that can be gone. Life is like that, you know. Life can be going as smooth sailing as ever when, suddenly, there will be brutal storms only to turn everything upside down. Just like that. Blink of an eye. Drop of a hat. Life is a journey and it takes those wicked storms and darkest of times to climb out of to be free and happy that is found within and not from anyone or anything.
People would never guess about the miserable, negative, and selfish person I was. People would never guess about the wistful wishes I have to be like the majority every now and then. People see me as the positive and perky with a bright smile on my face. This is because people do not really know my ‘stuff’ until they get to know me and how all that ‘stuff’ brought me to who I am now and will be. That is because we never really reveal our ‘stuff’ until we are at a place of complete trust and comfort with another. Everyone seems ‘normal’ until you really get to know someone and their ‘stuff.’
Everyone has crosses to bear, battles to fight, and experiences encountered and endured that it is not our place to judge, blame, or assume the worst. While it may always look on the surface that someone has it better and that we may even want and wish for what this someone has, we never know what lies beneath. We all have ‘stuff.’ We all go through ‘stuff.’ We do not see the stuff on the outside, nor will we ever feel what the other is going through on the inside. Maybe we will never see them. Life is not and never for the weak. What on the surface have you seen in others that you perhaps wanted because that ‘stuff’ seemed simple? What is YOUR ‘stuff’?
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,