What is life?
By definition it remains the condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death.
We as human beings grow, both in size and capacity. We human beings survive in part due to functional activity, be it creative, autonomous, or robotic. We human beings must continually strive for change or fear the repercussions of a life not lived; of growth never achieved from living through the shell of a dull robotic existence. So yes this definition rings true. But what I witnessed yesterday was beyond this so-called definition of life.
In the confines of a hospital room, surrounded by nurses, with my mother in law by my side I witnessed the gift of life. A baby wasn’t born, no umbilical cord, meconium, or gasping little lungs searching desperately for that very first breath ensuring life. What I witnessed yesterday was the greatest gift one human being can bestow upon another. The gift of being reborn through transplantation.
1138 am my wife received a healthy dose of bone marrow stem cells graciously donated from a 37-year-old woman somewhere in the United States. These stem cells once inside her body will hopefully find a way into their new home vacated through the untimely death of her immune system thanks to seven days of industrial sized chemotherapy.
Jacy didn’t stand a chance without this procedure, death was knocking on her door. Yet through a gift so great, so kind, this mother of four, wife to one, now has a chance at life. The nurses stood silently, watching as cells made their way slowly into the I.V. tubing, floating effortlessly until the very moment they began disappearing inside her chest. Then Jacy was met with a very kind, heartfelt; Happy Birthday. Each nurse said happy birthday to my wife. Transplant time was placed upon the white board at the foot of her bed. My mother in law cried and I just sat there, dumbfounded, enjoying the first smile I had seen on my wife’s face in days. It was indeed her birthday, her brand new birthday, and a day that we all will never forget.
So yes life is all those things listed by definition above, but life is also a gift, a gift to be shared with others over and over again. Whether through acts of kindness, opening one’s eyes to the world around them, sharing your life with another to revel upon successes and failures during those elder years or life is given through birth and celebrated year after year in the creation of family. But you also have the power to permanently change someone’s life by giving them some of your “life” and by doing so alter the course of so many other lives.
To the 37-year-old woman who answered the call generously giving some of your “life” to save my wife from certain death: Thank you. You have brought hope to my children, kept my faith in humanity alive, allowed me another day to stare deep into my Jacy’s eyes, kiss her lips, hold her hand and tell her I love her. Your kindness has inspired others to join the bone marrow registry, continue to give blood, take a moment to understand Leukemia and what it means to those affected. You gave of yourself and by doing so hundreds of friends, family members and acquaintances cheered a sigh of relief when we received the news you were in fact THE donor with a 10 out of 10 match. Because of you her brothers are laughing, a father is now resting easier and a mother still cries, but they are tears of happiness not sorrow. We understand there is still a long road to recovery, but without you that road would never have been traveled. You ma’am are my hero, like a pebble in a pond your ripples are reaching far and wide. I don’t know you but I love you and as I look up at a moonlit sky this evening may our eyes meet upon the very same star and may you feel the warmth of my love falling back to earth reflecting upon your face and in your heart.
You are the definition of life…..