“On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…a partridge in a pear tree.”
Odd gift but, well, sometimes they are. We wait for all sorts of things at Christmas. Sometimes with very mixed feelings.
Let’s imagine you’ve been waiting for something for a long time. It started when you weren’t feeling well. You went to see the GP, had some blood tests done and then one thing led to another until a growing – or sudden – awareness that the only way forward was through a transplant. And the understanding that, in most cases, that would mean waiting for the unwanted misfortune of another family. How do you wait for that?
You wait. Maybe along the way there’s a false alarm as you are rushed into hospital on the expectation of a transplant only to find that the intended organ is not appropriate for you. You go home to wait again.
Then the phone rings. You’re off again. This time it’s happening. Somewhere in your head are your thoughts of the other family, the person who will become your donor. You are taken to theatre, saying goodbye to those who came with you.
When you awaken from the effects of the sedative, the breathing tube is removed from your throat, and you begin to open your eyes. Some of them are there, those who came with you. And the nurses, the doctors, going about their complicated caring business, speaking your name gently, making you comfortable, as much as possible.
You’re back. “It’s good,” they tell you. “All went well. Long way to go in recovery but the surgeons and doctors are pleased. Watching your numbers on the monitors and it looks good. You were brilliant. Well done!”
Now it’s like a first day of Christmas. 12 days of it? Much more – all your Christmases rolled into one. On this first day of your Christmas, and from here on, you will never forget what your “true love” gave to you. You may never know who she or he was. You may never know their loved ones, those who made that decision, in their darkness, to light a candle for another. But you will know it was love. And it will stay in your heart and your mind. It will stay, no matter what.