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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Guest Post #3a: Papa's Tears

Apparently when I am on vacation I cannot count.   The post below should have been titled "Guest Post #2."  So rather than correct my error, I will just call this one "Guest Post 3a" because it's my blog and I make the rules.  OK.

Today's guest blogger is my friend MMM.  Like V, we've known each other since high school.  Shortly after we graduated from college, MMM trained for and ran a marathon.  I was so impressed and inspired by her that I decided to give it a try.  One evening after a training run, MMM, myself and bunch of other runners decided to get some beers... because nothing rehydrates a runner like beer.  There was a guy there named Steve that was paying quite a bit of attention to my friend MMM.   As we were leaving I said, "that guys wants to date you."  She was completely oblivious and said something like, "no, I think he's just a really nice guy."  MMM and Steve are now married with two of the most adorable little children on the planet.  Never doubt MGT.

MMM doesn't have her own blog, but just like V, she should.  I was thrilled she agreed to write a guest post for me.  So enough intro, here she is:


My dad never cries. Well, first of all I call him “Papa” (yes, still at 37) and let me clarify: I’ve seen him cry maybe 5 times in my entire life. Once when his mother died, once when my mother’s mother died, when a dear friend of the family died, a quick tear when he dropped me off at college, and when my hubbie and I announced I was pregnant. Until I began writing today, I had completely forgotten that there was a sixth time that I witnessed the awkward, contorted-faced controlled whimper called “crying” that he unwillingly released. I was lounging on a hospital bed with a huge proud smile on my face, waiting to be wheeled in to have bone marrow extracted.

This was one of the most rewarding days of my life and when I saw the worry on my parents’ faces, I quickly responded with “how could I not do this?” It was a worry that I could never understand completely because I was single, childless and only 27. At the time my only worries were which direction to begin my morning runs, to have a post-run bagel or smoothie and whether I should eat at Pasta Pomodoro or Barney’s.

I was given the opportunity to donate bone marrow to an unrelated 10 year old Brazilian girl in 1997. I say opportunity because it ended up opening my mind and so many doors for me. It was a small price to pay for the things I experienced.

The odds of being selected, screened and passed as a bone marrow donor is 1 in 20,000 (at least that’s what I just found on my quick internet search). Not a common thing and it is not guaranteed because you simply donated blood. So when my husband, boyfriend at the time, was a match for another unrelated girl, we were shocked. What made me fall in love with him even more, was that he took as long as I did to decide to donate. “Yes, of course I’ll do it” was his response. He had a hard outer shell, but had a heart of gold.

His little angel didn’t make it through her first year. Now before I make my next comment let me say that my husband was affected by this. I was just surprised by his first response: “At least she had a little more time.” True, but how about a tear? A scream?” This is a perfect example of the difference between how we parent. He, the optimist, me the realist (ok, the pessimist).

In my experience donating bone marrow is a lot like parenting. You are completely depleted and exhausted; your blood is running around outside of your body; you knew you wanted to do it, but you had no clue about all the feelings you would experience; there are high highs and low lows; your ass and stomach are so bloated because of all the salt you have going through your body (chips vs. IV fluids); and now you have a big chunk of your brain and your entire heart consumed by a little person that shares your DNA.

I know that the girl I donated to survived past the first year. I’m hoping now that she is a healthy 21 year old girl living it up in Brazil. I wonder if she thinks about me, if she thinks about helping others and if she craves nuts like I do. What I’ve learned about this experience since having children, is that I will always have her on my mind and in my heart. In my eyes, we are connected.

Now that I have kids, I understand that I had no clue at the time that I donated what my papa’s tears meant. I’m sure my parents wanted to scream “Are you crazy?! Did you just decide to do this 30 seconds after being asked?!” But now that I have two little humans running around, with my blood in them, testing limits, trying new things, falling, learning and growing, I understand that my papa’s tears contained so much more than I initially thought. The tears were tears of fear, pride, admiration, confusion and joy. If I could feel all these emotions in response to my daughter going down the slide for the first time, couldn’t papa feel all that watching me help someone live?

4 comments:

Stefanie said...

That's so huge to do that. Wow. I've often thought about donating a kidney but I get freaked out because I have three kids. I don't really think that's an excuse but it still stops me. I'm jealous that you got to give that gift and inspired. What a great guest post!!

V said...

How many people can say they saved another's person's life? I admire your courage and, though you refer to yourself as a realist/pessimist, I've known you long enough to know better! You've always got fight and hope in you. And, not only did you pass these things on to your own children, but you passed them on to that lucky little girl and her family as well. You're one tough mama!

Overflowing Brain said...

That's an awesome story. I've always wanted to donate bone marrow, but I've got like 3 strikes against me and have been turned down...repeatedly.

Thank you for stepping up. That's the way it should be and I only wish there were more people like you and your husband out there.

heartatpreschool said...

Awesome guest post MMM! I didn't even know that you did that, but it totally doesn't surprise me.

Did you know that I got the quote I use on my blog from you?