Here’s a story. It’s one of those stories that has the advantage of being true.
See, there were these kids who grew up and got married and had families and moved away and then moved back to where they started. Some marriages didn’t work out and some did. Some years they saw less of each other – some more. Heartfelt conversations somehow occurred in the midst of the bustle of life.
That might be the most astonishing thing up until the most recent thing – that despite the kids and the jobs and the holidays and the drama and the heartbreak and the monotony and all of it, despite that list of stuff that doesn’t even begin to get to the heart of the matter, despite all of that that there was still time to bear one’s soul in those stolen moments.
Sitting by the pool. Waiting for the waitress to bring the check. Giving a ride to the mechanic’s when the car’s finally ready. In those slivers of time, great conversations somehow happened. Not always, but more often than you might think.
But back to the most recent thing. This is the story that gets the attention. See the photo up above? Those are the recently excavated kidneys of one of my friends. Normally kidneys are about 12 centimetres long. His had grown to be 42 centimetres and had to be removed. You can’t live very long without kidneys – they’re one of those essential organs. A donor was needed, but who do you ask for such a thing?
I don’t know the details of that part. How the offer of one’s kidney was actually verbalised. But what one of my other friends did was suggest that the guy in need of a healthy kidney just take one of his. That easy. Well, I doubt it was that easy, but as easy as a thing like that could be…it was agreed upon.
Here’s the thing: of course it’s generous. I’m sure the friend who just had those wildebeest-sized monstrosities taken out of his body is deeply grateful that he has such a friend…such a circle of friends, actually. But I’m not at all surprised that the kidney donor would do such a thing. He’s a wonderful guy – don’t get me wrong – it’s just so big a gesture. It’s your own kidney, man. Are you sure you want to take this friendship thing to such extremes?
All of it goes full circle back to the original astonishing thing. The friendship made of big and little moments. Moments you sometimes don’t even realise are so precious until after the fact.
I’m reminded of something written about my dad after he died. One of his friends was grieving and he wrote, ‘One of the hard truths of life is that it takes 25 years to build a 25-year friendship.’
That’s what’s at work here with the friend who needs a kidney and the kidney donor. It’s a 30-year friendship. 30 years and counting. That’s why I can understand the kidney donor. We’re all standing around marveling at the guy who’s forking over his vital organ, but I for one am sitting here thinking, ‘Well, of course he’d do something like that.’
Some days I feel sorry for myself and some days I wonder why I’ve ever doubted that everything would work out for the best. There are some days when I can’t quite believe how I’ve made it this far. Then, there are moments interspersed within those days where I remember my oldest friends. I hold some of them personally responsible for me having made it this far.
Having friends like this makes me want to make it this far again and again and again.