Saturday, November 24, 2007

Giving thanks

Yesterday we celebrated Thanksgiving, one day later than the official day in America. We usually postpone Thanksgiving to Friday because obviously it’s not a holiday here and by doing so everybody can sleep late on Saturday. There were ten of us: Jim, Nancy and Lorraine plus seven kids. It was glorious.

I wasn’t sure we’d be able to manage such a feast this year, a little over three weeks since the transplant. I’m not supposed to carry anything heavy, which includes the turkey, and I’m not supposed to overexert myself. But nobody wanted to skip it, especially not this year when we’ve just come through such an intense family experience and everyone has so much to be thankful for. So Cait took a day off work and organized the dinner, Anne picked up the turkey from the poultry butcher (where I had ordered it a week before), and everybody else pitched in with the cooking and clean-up.

My mother said grace. It was hard for her to get through the tears, but she thanked the Lord for uniting her with her family after a year of such tragedy (my brother’s death in March). We loaded up our plates and sat around the living room together. Dan kept everyone laughing, as usual, and Kylie read us a New Zealand children’s story (she’s Maori, and the book is written in both Maori and English).

Jim told me later he has never in his life felt such a prolonged and intense sense of gratitude as he had since the transplant. Super K continues to work beautifully, although Jim does have some side effects from the immuno-suppressive medicines he’s taking. He keeps noticing other positive changes in his health, things he never would have related to kidney function before but now all seem to have been somehow connected to less than optimal renal function.

I’m grateful that he’s feeling so well, grateful to all the kids for their amazing support and help all through this, grateful to the medical community -- at the AMC and in Alkmaar -- for their constant care, grateful to Dr. Idu (the wonderful surgeon whom we met for only a few minutes but whose skill is something we’ll take with us all our lives), to our friends for their kind cards, e-mails, phone calls and visits, to the church, both in Amsterdam and all over the world, for praying for us, for Fr. Sergei and Fr. Mel for visiting us and bringing us Holy Communion and for my translation clients who have been so patient during all this. But mostly I’m grateful to the mysterious God who gave me the opportunity to give this gift. It was the most difficult thing I have ever been called to do, and it’s almost as if my whole life had served as a period of preparation.

Like Jim, who seems daily to be discovering how the transplant is affecting his total health, I am daily discovering how the transplant is affecting my sense of who I am and where I’m going. It is immensely humbling.

(Photo: Our two Thanksgiving pies. More photos of the celebration are on our Flickr site.)

No comments: