-- Anais Nin
We all have two main choices in life, especially during hard times. We can choose to laugh, or we can choose to cry. Either choice is fine really but if we choose the latter, we must remember to crawl out of our sad hole and start laughing. It's the only way that we will get through this journey.
The past few years, her journey has become a climb of steep switchbacks up a high mountain. But she has not been alone on her journey. She has had her close friends, her beautiful husband, her family and her spirit guides with her. After a series of illnesses, Irene found out maybe 3 years ago that she was in kidney failure. She had to leave her friends in Mexico and move back to the states for treatment, to begin dialysis, and to await and hope for a kidney transplant. A couple members of her family offered to be her donor but after intensive testing were denied. Meanwhile, Irene endured dialysis, surgeries to reconnect veins, unable to pee and strict instructions to eat and drink only a few types of food.
Then a year ago, her good friend in Mexico, Elisa, secretly got tested and found she was a perfect match. She then told Irene she was going to give her one of her kidneys. Following this proclamation, Elisa started her own journey of a year of tests to determine her eligibility as a donor. Finally the day came when it was announced that Elisa had passed all her tests and that a date had been scheduled for the transplant. Irene was in disbelief that this was actually going to become a reality.
I can't remember how long it took, but just after her surgery, Irene called to say she was peeing!!!! PEEING! Now let me tell you, this was a huge milestone. Irene hadn't peed in a year and a half. After coming home from the hospital she had a mild rejection episode and was put on a large dose of prednizone.
Now, just 6 months later she is basking in the joy of a new life. A life where she can pee, a life without dialysis, and a life with the new latino part of herself - Maria Consuelos - her kidney. She has a strict regimin of pills, recording all she eats, drinks and pees, watching what she eats, and fending off the side effects of the medications. But that doesn't stop this girl. Irene has freedom now. She can travel which is how she ended up at our house this week. She doesn't let anything get in her way. There is no room left in her life for negativity. She relishes in life's simplest yet most important pleasures - good friends, family, and her incredible husband. She cries when she needs to but relies on her support group to keep her standing strong. Irene says she's found out how strong a person she really is. She can do anything now. She knows what really matters in life. In fact, Irene has always known that. The intensity is just more magnified now.
Everyone who knows Irene or who has met her briefly has taken with them a piece of sunshine. That piece of sunshine infects the next person they interact with and so on. Life is not easy. It's a harsh world full of sickness, illness, poverty, corruption and whatever else negative you can think of. But there are pockets of happiness, love and sunshine. And like Irene says, she chooses to laugh in the face of it all and to continue to say to herself - I am worth it. Or as I like to say - I am high maintenance but I am worth it. So continue to spread the sunshine and take care for those you love because there is no greater joy, nor greater reward than to make a fundamental difference in someone's life. And be of love a little more careful than of everything.