I’ve always been a face-to-face and in-person kind of gal. All these tech tools and gadgets to ‘communicate’ are stellar, but, I must confess, there is no means of communication that has surpassed the personal encounter and experience for me to take in and savor the ENTIRE person—from the overall facial features, vocal intonations, and bodily gestures to the subtle nuances of a tilt of a head, sweetness of a smile, a lilting laughter.
My life has been influenced and enhanced by many people that I have met, touched, and held in the happiest, saddest, and everything in between life moments. However, there are a select rare and few people who I have never met (and may never meet) at all who have touched and even shaken up the very core of my being in the best of ways. I've been thinking a lot about these people. More than that, I’ve been pondering the preconceived notions we possess of people even before meeting them. Like my friends around the world who I use the simple term ‘penpals’ that cannot possibly ever capture the unique and special friendship that is forged and formed through the power of words on cute or beautiful stationary. Like my organ donors and their families. Particularly my second organ donor. There is nearly nothing I know about my second organ donor. No name. No face. What were her favorites? Favorite color, favorite food, favorite past time? What color were her hair and eyes? Did she tilt her head when she laughed? I bet her smile and eyes lit up an entire room. I know I would win this bet.
In small ways that I have strangely adopted, I feel my second organ donor. I feel connected to her. After my second kidney transplant, I created a rather odd dish of food that I could not get enough of—and, ‘they’ say that recipients often adopt certain qualities, characteristics, tastes, flavors, etc. from their donors. This was the dish (and I hope it does not gross you out): Pepperidge Farm Cheddar Goldfishes sprinkled on top of velvety and smooth Carvel ice cream cake with the crunchies in between the layers of silky milky ice cream. The savory and crunch of the cheddar goldfishes formed a delectably match-made-in-heaven marriage with the crunchy center of the saccharine Carvel ice cream cake. My mouth was in heaven. I was intoxicated with these flavors. To this day, I can never get enough of sweet and savory—two of the many flavors that our tastebuds tango to and that life offers in leaps and bounds. Reason this creative fatty foodie concoction to the anti-rejection medications I had to take, or unreason the maybe my second organ donor was a lover of salty and savory as I was and still am? I like to believe and can often see her in my mind munching on cheddar goldfishes and licking the smooth and tangy ice cream from an ice cream cone—not necessarily done simultaneously, but done when her girlish ways and 4-year-old tastebuds beckoned out to her. Would I know her if I had seen her in life rather than feel her so immensely in death while I live on? How can I feel her and know her without having met her?
Recently, I’ve been contemplating more often than not about my first organ donor and even more about my second organ donor. She would be 24-years-old now, but I still and will always remember her as the 4-year-old girl who died tragically and the 12-year-old girl I was when I received two of her kidneys. These increased thoughts about my second organ donor have me a bit on the edge with twisted knots in my tummy if something is happening with her family. It is only recently that I learned that she has two sisters and a mother who still grieves over 20 years and counting. I grieve for her and their family, too. I grieve with guilt. Perhaps this is one out of many things about grieving—there really is not end point, but many points along the way that can prick and hurt so hard and bad as well as points of pick ups to just try our very best to keep on moving and living. Is it possible to have such deep feelings and penetrating and pensive thoughts about faceless giving and grieving strangers? About people we never met and may never meet? How is it that we start as strangers and maybe even finish as friends or start and end as strangers?
Many of my fellow transplant friends have been graced with the gift of meeting their organ donor families. For me, I have yet to meet my organ donor families, and I leave it in higher hands if I am meant to. With that said, I am left wondering, waiting, dreaming, and imagining about them. But, the greatest piece I am left with is all these array of feelings about them. Without meeting my organ donors and their families and the select other rare few in my life (such as ‘pen’friends), I possess these preconceived notions of how the person would be like, such as the salty-savory Carvel-Cheddar Goldfishes ice cream dish I conjured up in connection with my second organ donor as an example. I find that it is easier and more of a comfort to keep these preconceived notions to never or to avoid ever experiencing the truth and reality that mainly happens face-to-face.
Life is full of encounters with people we never met and may never met, yet we feel like we know them through rather odd life occurrences. Or, there are those people we meet for the first time only to feel like we have known them forever or maybe in some sort of past life. Have you ever had that feeling like you have known a person forever only when meeting that person for the first time? Or, perhaps, you knew this person in a past life? How is it that first impressions can turn into everlasting imprints and impressions or maybe or first impressions become last impressions? Who have you connected with in unexplainable ways felt deeply without having met them just yet?
‘Until we Meet’ and even after then, I value and cherish the affect and impact that only enhances my life and me with the utmost hope of meeting and a mutual connection within that encounter.
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,