I arrived at the restaurant a few minutes early and was seated in a booth next to a large window that provided a panoramic view of the lake. I looked around and smiled as I watched a mother goose usher her goslings into the water. It was the perfect beginning to what was going to be a wonderful anniversary celebration.
It had been 10 years, 3,650 days, I thought to myself. I had begun to think in days instead of years as I lay weak and crumpled in a hospital bed with only a 40 percent chance of survival. I had faced many medical challenges in the past, but this time, I wasn't sure my 98-pound body could recover again. I was at the point of just wishing it would all be over; once you're that frail and broken physically, it doesn't take long for your spirit to follow.
"Sorry I'm a little late, traffic was awful," my 31-year-old son said as he leaned over to hug and kiss me.
My mind raced back to the months I'd spent in a hospital bed and I began to cry.
"Mom, Mom, why are you crying?" he lovingly asked as he slid in beside me.
"Because ten years ago today, you sat with me on my bed and told me that everything was going to be OK," I said. "We were a match and the transplant was going to happen."
My son wrapped his arms around me and I leaned into his shoulder, just as I had done all those years before, and muffled a thank-you that emanated from every cell in my body.
"We're celebrating tonight! You've made it 10 years in perfect health! You've given my kidney a perfect home!" he said and I never loved him as much as I did in that moment, and believe me, that's saying quite a lot.
In May of 2007, wheeled into two separate operating rooms, we both began what was to be a life-changing experience. The kidney transplant was successful and after two days, I felt like a different person. A pink flush returned to my cheeks and I could feel a new strength pulsing through my veins. It was truly miraculous. On day three, I returned home. My son stayed a bit longer, as the doctors wanted to be sure he had completely recovered before letting him go.
The waitress brought our drinks and took our order. I finally stopped crying long enough to enjoy our time together. My son's green eyes were sparkling, just as they did when he was a little boy, and I couldn't be prouder of the man he has become. He's kind and compassionate with a great sense of humor, plays a mean blues guitar and is engaged to be married.
We share a deep and abiding love for each other but with something more. We're literally a part of one another. I treasure the gift he gave me: I eat well, exercise, don't smoke or drink, and I never take one minute, one hour, one day for granted. We've both given each other life.
We finished dinner with a decadent dessert and then took a long walk together around the lake.
"Look at that mama goose chasing that one baby that won't come to her!" said my son. We watched for a moment until the little gosling returned to the safety of its mother's wing.
"Oh, son, there's nothing in this world like a mother's love," I said, "or the love of her babies for her. Nothing!"