Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Kidney Walk 2010
The Kidney walk was really amazing. I was so grateful that we went as soon as we got out of our car and saw all the people start heading to the registration table. What was so wonderful is that I felt a familiarity with each and every one of them. I knew that most of them had stories similar to mine. Or they were the family of that person who had or was suffering from kidney failure. I empathize with those as well because I know what it feels like to look at your families faces and see fear, love and concern all masked with a smile that they put on for you. Nick, Brady and I walked up to the registration table and instantly noticed the bright purple shirts that said, "Take a Lifesaving Step". That was one of many times my eyes welled with tears that day. Everyone was so friendly. Nick looked at me with the biggest smile and said, "I am so glad we're here." That is exactly how I felt. It may sound weird to say, but in a way, it felt like home. I felt connected to these people and wanted to say hi and hug each and every one of them. We took our tickets over to another table and got our very own bright, purple shirt and put them on immediately. We went around to the booths and talked to the people from the local hospitals and dialysis centers and I also wanted to give each one of them a big hug. You can only know how important those people are if you have been through something like this. Those people become your anchor to all things hopeful. They remind you, or at least try to, that you will be fine. I wish I had listened to them better way back then. Next, we go over to the snack table and help ourselves to a pre-walk snack. That's when I saw her......the first time. She was probably Brady's age or a bit older. She was in a red wagon, sitting comfortably amongst blankets and stuffed animals. She was wearing a bright, purple shirt as well. Then I noticed her backpack and the tube coming out of it that was going up her shirt. My heart sank. This tiny little thing was on dialysis. Her parents sponsored her for the walk and pulled her the whole 3 miles in that red wagon. That was the second time my eyes teared up that day. I wanted to run up to her and hug her and tell her that everything will be okay. I wanted to hug her cute parents and tell them that their little girl can have a really full life. But the hardest part about all of this is that isn't the case for everyone. She's too little to receive a transplant. Her parents are hoping she makes it long enough to see that day. I can't even think that that's not a possibility so I walk past her on purpose and make contact with her and say hi. Nick was off with Brady somewhere so I took the childless opportunity to touch her tiny little hand. Her dad noticed I was pregnant and asked when I was due and I told him that I was having my little girl on July 29 - the five year anniversary of my kidney transplant. Her dad got teary and said that that is his biggest wish for his daughter, that she can live to see that day. I told him that I hope so too! And I really, really do! Other than that brief moment, every one seemed so happy and hopeful and that's the cause I want to be a part of. I want to be in the business of spreading hope and information so people understand that there are stories that are sad but there are also hundreds and hundreds of happy ones out there too and I am so grateful to be one of those. Next, the program director called everyone to the starting line and thanked us for being there. All of a sudden, I hear the Rocky theme song, "Getting Strong Now", blaring from the speakers and they said, "Go." That was the third time my eyes got teary that day. There were about 200 or so of us all walking/running with the same purpose. It felt wonderful to be a part of that great cause. As Nick and I walked, my heart started to heal with each step I took. It was almost five years ago, but I haven't ever fully recovered from it. In fact, Nick and I have rarely spoken about it until Sunday. But this gave us a chance to reflect about it and talk about all the wonderful blessings that have come from it! There are so many but the three most sacred to me are Brady, Avery, and this wonderful, strong marriage that has come out of it! In 6 short months of marriage, Nick watched his new wife wither away, getting more sick each and every day. Then he watches me undergo this hefty surgery that took my normally happy, positive spirit away for a couple months. When I did feel back to "normal" I could see the stress leave his face and his shoulders and I knew that he was here for the long run. He was not only my husband but my partner and that is a wonderfully secure feeling! It was wonderful to talk about the past and feel blessed and happy instead of angry and bitter. As we were walking, I saw about six people ahead of us that were wearing red shirts that just said BOB on them. We caught up to them and I asked the man next to me what the shirts were all about and he said, "I am Bob. This is my family." As we walked and talked, we found out that we were diagnosed with the exact same disease, had the same doctors, and had our transplants at the same hospital. He was the happiest guy and we walked for a long time together and it was so nice meeting him. As we finished up our walk, crossing the finish line, I teared up for the last time. I saw the little girl again in the wagon and she was smiling and laughing with her parents and I felt so happy in my heart. This walk was to raise money and hope and I think each one of us did that that day. Whether we gained hope or were the bearers of it, we were each better for being there!