Many years ago Debbie received a gift from a stranger. It was a gift that would fill every moment for the next twenty-three years with life. And then, the gift began to fail. Not because it wasn’t wanted, or desired, or needed but simply because sometimes, time wears heavily on gifts from strangers in our bodies.
For Debbie, that meant the kidney she’d received 23 years ago could no longer sustain her and she would have to go on dialysis until a new match could be found. It was a long journey. Her health was failing, her body weakening, and still she held onto hope. Her eldest son’s kidney didn’t match nor did her husbands. It wasn’t until her youngest son, Kynan reached the age of majority for living donors that they discovered, he wasn’t a match either.
But Kynan was not to be daunted. Even though giving up a kidney meant a radical change to his passion of being a rodeo clown, Kynan decided to become a living donor to a stranger.
And so, just over two and a half weeks ago Kynan and two other living donors created a circle of courage, compassion, and Love so that their loved one could receive a match. Kynan’s donation went to a stranger whose loved one’s living organ went to another stranger who’s loved one was a match for Debbie.
On Sunday evening, my youngest daughter picked up Debbie and Kynan and brought them both for dinner. We sat in a circle on the deck, a fire roaring in the outdoor fireplace, the sky above turning dusk to dark. We laughed and chatted and shared stories and when it got too chilly we moved inside and sat around the dining room table sharing a meal and more stories, many of which focused around our Choices journeys.
I remembered coaching with Debbie. It was her first time volunteering to coach and she was nervous and determined to give her best. Her gentle spirit, her welcoming smile made everyone feel warm and loved, but mid-way through the three month journey through Choices, to Givers 1 and then Givers 2, her health began to fail and she had to step back to take care of herself.
It is one of the foundational beliefs of Choices. We have to take care of ourselves first to be strong enough to take care of others.
For the past two and a half years, Debbie’s life and the life of her family, has been circumscribed by the dialysis machine. Now she’s free.
As I sat around the dining room table and looked at her face and the face of her son glowing in the candlelight I was in awe of the power of Love to inspire and heal. I was overwhelmed with gratitude for this young man who had the courage and Love to give of his life to a stranger so his beautiful, gentle-spirited mother could continue to live.
I asked Debbie and Kynan if I could share their story because, well firstly because I love them both and want to celebrate them but also, because I wanted to inspire each of us to think about what we do that makes a difference in the world.
I know Debbie and Kynan through Choices. Kynan has coached many times, and when he’s not coaching in the first 5 day segment of the training, he is always willing to come in as a “Blessing Coach” to help out in Givers 2 on the weekends — on Sunday of the Givers 2 weekend, trainees spend the afternoon creating their Purpose Statement — the thing they do in this world that comes naturally to them because it is, and has always been, written on their heart. Having volunteers in the Purpose Room (as is true of all the Choices rooms) is critical to ensuring each trainee gets the support and guidance they need to create their own unique statement so that when they leave the room, they are empowered to live on purpose.
We each have a purpose in life. We each do things, naturally, that touch others in ways that give meaning to our hearts desire to make a difference.
Looking around the dinner table on Sunday night, I felt the difference each person made in my life — and the world. Sunday was the finish of C.C.’s first coaching experience in ‘the big room’. He still has Givers 1 and G2 to coach in and can’t wait for his next opportunity to coach again in Choices. His daughter, Mikaela, who finished G2 last month, sat beside her friend M.M. who just completed Choices who was glowing from his experience. She too can’t wait to coach. My youngest daughter Liseanne and a friend from Choices, T.G, had volunteered that day as Blessing Coaches in G2, something they do almost every Sunday of the G2 weekend. Liseanne is checking her calendar to see when she can next coach the entire program.
It is their way of giving back. Of making a difference.
We all have an opportunity to give back — not always in such a significant way as Kynan, but each of us can and does make a difference.
What’s your difference-making? What’s written on your heart?