Sunday, March 21, 2010

913. Preliminaries

Another thought about this potential bone marrow donor thing. I don't think I fully conveyed, in my last post, my overwhelming feeling of surreality (is that a word?). Perhaps if the woman from the registry had sounded a little more excited, or used the phrase "earth-shattering odds"—but judging by the tone of her voice, I might as well have won free dry-cleaning. Her affect did not match the content of her words. I hung up the phone and yearned for Superman to burst in through a window and repeat the message.

I realized, later on, that I'm used to sudden bad news. I've had a lot more experience with it. The phone call about an unpromising lab test, or a death—I know, as do most adults, that feeling of being punched in the stomach, robbed of breath. I understand the recovery time involved, during which you live in a world devoid of color or music where everything is muffled, grey.

Bad news arrives quickly more than it grows into being. Even situations that devolve over a long slide, starting out bleak and ending up dire, usually feature one moment when the bottom seems to fall out entirely. One second there's hope; then it's gone. The length of time in which hope is nurtured doesn't necessarily make it any more true or enduring.

But joy takes its time. Rarely does true love appear at first sight. Birth requires pregnancy; marriage, engagement. Great happiness generally grows out of many instances of smaller happiness, and they add up until one day you realize that things are really wonderful. Even the suddenness of winning the lottery usually comes after many failed attempts. I guess the preliminaries to joy aren't always all happy—but there are still preliminaries. Joy does not generally sneak up.

So I think that's why this potential bone marrow thing has been so disarming, in the best possible way. One minute I was a normal person, and the next—a normal person who might be able to save a life. I feel completely unworthy of this honor, which I know makes no sense. We are all our brothers' and sisters' keepers.

I know that my body is on loan from God for the duration of my life. I hope and pray that maybe God will decide to use part of it for this purpose—and if not mine, than a part from one of God's other works of art.

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