Exactly one year ago today I was out with Joe and my sister-in-law and her family at the little Italian Cafe down the street. Its a BYO restaurant with great food, we brought a couple bottles of wine and I was imbibing freely before the meal arrived and by the time we started eating had quite a buzz on. Towards the end of the meal my cell phone rang, it was one of my closest friends who was awaiting a life-saving lung transplant. When I saw the caller I froze and couldn't answer the phone, I handed it to Joe. What a weird reaction! This friend calls frequently and I had no reason to think this call would be any different; however, I had a feeling (maybe because I was a bit drunk) that this was "the call".
Joe spoke to P briefly, told him we were out to dinner and that I'd call him back shortly. P had gotten the call for a set of lungs! I immediately burst into tears, walked outside the restaurant and called him back. I proceeded to sob throughout the call, knowing full well what this meant. He was about to go into a huge operation, one that would hopefully save his life, but that there was a chance that this would be the last time we were talking to one another. He had bestowed upon me the honor of being the Director of Communications, the person who would email everyone to save his immediate family from fielding calls and emails so they could concentrate on P. I promised him I'd keep everyone up to date, stay in close touch with his mom and he cheerfully promised he'd "see me on the other side". I sobbed throughout the entire conversati0n, all the way home from the restaurant and then for another good half hour, alone, in the back yard once we got home. I'm sure the wine had a good bit to do with my emotional reaction, but it was such a huge moment, one this friend had been waiting for for a long time. There had been one false alarm, some people encounter many. I had a good feeling about this, though, and was just so happy/worried/excited/scared and overwhelmed at the thought of his going into surgery.
The actual transplant took place on the 8th, by the time they got him to the hospital and prepared for surgery. The operation itself was quite long and there were some serious complications immediately postop that necessitated another trip back into the operating room. Amazingly, I was able to travel to Pittsburgh two and a half weeks later to see him, while he was still in the hospital. It was an amazing site: his color was no longer gray, he had pink lips and nail beds and his complexion was downright rosy! Truly a miracle. The past year hasn't been an easy one, frought with complications, medical procedures and fighting the system for follow-up. He has maintained is dignity and wry sense of humor throughout, something that hardly seems possible, but he's pulled it off. My hat goes off to this brave and incredible man, whom I am proud to call a very dear friend.
A year ago it was, and its going to be on my mind tonight and tomorrow. A toast to you, P!