A couple weeks ago, on the evening of August 12, my husband Noah and I were sitting in beach chairs along the shore of Lake Tahoe. We were watching the sun set behind the Sierra Mountains with the soothing sound of water splashing against the shore, the refreshing evening breeze and magical surroundings filling our hearts with joy. We enjoyed music playing from a nearby wedding reception. The excitement was building for the following day: my 15-year kidney transplant anniversary.
As we soaked in the beauty surrounding us, we reflected on life and how amazing it is. I enjoyed texting my donor, Sally, pictures of me and Noah and Lake Tahoe. Even though we are thousands of miles apart, it was fun to share the excitement with her. Noah and I stayed on the beach until it was pitch dark. Serendipitously, the Perseid Meteor Shower took place that night. I saw more shooting stars that special anniversary-eve than I have in my entire lifetime. We saw a huge shooting star that left behind a long line of star dust, like I’ve never witnessed before or knew was possible. I didn’t know shooting stars could look so magical! That evening sure set the tone for an extraordinary kidney transplant anniversary celebration.
I was so thankful to open my eyes the following morning on August 13! I did it! My and Sally’s (kidney) bean did it! I lived to see the day of being 15 years post-transplant. Noah and I ate breakfast at Heaven’s Little Café, which seemed appropriate for the occasion. We then kicked off the monumental day on a very high note, by soaring with the birds above Lake Tahoe. We have only parasailed one other time for my 9-year transplant anniversary. When we hopped on the boat, I was so giddy and filled with sheer joy. I could hardly wait to fly in the sky. The captain’s assistant hooked us up to the sail and the harnesses and next thing we knew, the captain hit the gas and we started our flight above the lake.
Parasailing starts off exhilarating and then it becomes very peaceful. Once the rope is fully extended, it is so quiet and the views are breathtaking. Noah and I held hands and tried our best to soak it all in. On our ride back to the boat, we felt another jolt of exhilaration as we dipped into the cold water before landing on the back of the boat. It was so fun! I’m not sure if I could have smiled any bigger. My heart was exploding with gratefulness.
After such a tremendous morning, we spent the afternoon enjoying the pristine lake before heading to Truckee to meet our friend, Meghan. I recently met Meghan at the Wanderlust Festival in Squaw Valley where she had a booth to do henna artwork. Shortly after meeting her, I learned that she had donated a kidney to her son when he needed a transplant as a baby. I loved the henna that she did at Wanderlust and was moved by our organ donation connection, so I wanted her to be a part of my 15-year celebration. Meghan adorned me with a stunning piece of henna featuring roses, a symbol for 15-year anniversaries. Her talent amazes me. She also brought her son, Joaquin, to meet me. I was very touched by this and it meant so much to connect with a young transplant recipient and discuss our transplant journeys.
Our celebration of my second chance at life was full of adventure, love, beauty, reflection and meaningful connections with others. It was perfect, and it was all possible because of my donor, Sally. Everything I have done, everything I do and will do is because of the decision Sally made to give me her kidney. It is a true miracle that I am alive. My gift of life has taught me that every day deserves to be celebrated. I encourage you to celebrate life in all of its challenges and all of its glory. It is precious. It is a gift like no other. It is ours to make the best of. Let’s celebrate life today and every day!
How do you celebrate life and how have you celebrated your transplant anniversaries?