Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Life Is Good - And Now Even Better

When I picture our friend, Joe, I first see his infectious smile, his trademark moustache, and his trusty camera strapped around his neck. Joe has been our friend for over forty years; memories about him would be a blog in itself. But right now, we're just happy he's still on this earth so that we can create more memories with him - hopefully, for another 40-plus years.

Joe is an on-the-go kind of guy. He loves long-distance bike tours, is a professional photographer, travels all over the world, and regards his kids, grandkids, and wife as his most prized possessions. His friendship is unwavering - although he's bad about returning phone calls and e-mails! He has done so much, but has much more to do, see, and experience.

All of that was put in jeopardy recently when he was diagnosed with liver cancer. Lots of prayers were sent heavenward as we waited for him to be put on a transplant list. That happened much more quickly than we anticipated, and, even more remarkable was that he was called only a couple of weeks later and told a donor liver was available.

The transplant was successful, and he is recuperating well. And, for that, we've said a lot more prayers. His most recent e-mail summed it up beautifully when he wrote, "Life is good...and now even better."

He has learned that the donor was a twenty-two year old man, and that he may have saved as many as 15 lives by being an organ donor. What a legacy; sad for his family, but heartwarming for the multiple families he helped. Joe said he was going to write a letter to his family, and hoped they would accept it.

I think we all hope that, once our earthly life is over, we leave behind something of significance. This recent experience has made me realize how important that notation on my driver's license is: "DONOR" in red letters next to my photo. Though I won't be here to know how my particular legacy plays out, the smiling image of our friend, Joe, is the strongest reason I can conjure to validate my choice. And I'd like to thank that anonymous young man, and his family, for giving us more memory-making years with a longtime friend.

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