For the last ten years of my marriage, August 5th, was a date that brought me joy. On August 5th, 2005, after enduring four years of kidney dialysis, my husband was given the generous gift of a cadaver donor kidney.
I remember that day clearly; the lunchtime phone call from the hospital and their inability to contact my husband. (Although he had a cell phone, he refused to carry it.) Even though I was his wife, for reasons of patient confidentiality they couldn’t tell me the reason for their call, but they did answer my question. “Is it time sensitive?” I asked.
The voice on the other line replied, “Yes’.
“How long does he have?” ”
Thirty minutes and they’d give the kidney to someone else.
My son and I swung into action. I phoned every person and place I could possibly think of where my husband might be. My son jumped into my car and literally cruised the streets downtown, close to his office, looking for him.
Long story short, they got to the hospital in time and he got the kidney.
I remember that night, seeing him post op, unconscious, his body swollen with all the fluid he’d received. Honestly… he looked so white and awful I was terrified he might die. But he survived and our lives changed. No longer were any of us – but particularly him – tied to the relentless demands of the dialysis machine.
Ten years later, on August 5th, my daughter discovered that the story my husband had fed all of us – that there was no-one else involved in his decision to break up our marriage – was an outright, and deliberate, lie.
Until that moment, I think I’d carried the illusion that our marriage might still be saved. After that moment… after almost 40 years of loving him, I felt irrelevant and worthless. I wasn’t worth being told the truth. What purpose did I have? What meaning did my life have? What meaning or purpose had I ever had?
Over the past few years, the sense of worthlessness has eased. It’s a cliche but true – how someone treats you says nothing about you and everything about them. My meaning and purpose have started to crawl back, but August 5th is never an easy day.
And then, driving to pick up a friend from the airport today, I saw a sign by the side of the road that said, “You matter’.
It turns out it’s one of many signs displayed around our city by the woman depicted in this article. She states, “I believe that someone out there read that sign and it made their day better.”
I don’t know about anyone else, but Ann made my day better. Tomorrow – August 5th – will be much easier.
Thank you, Ann.