life and death and kidney transplants

Two years ago today, a wonderful man died. A strong man, a strong husband. Not an old man, but not quite young. Very healthy. It was a catastrophe at work, an accident; we’d later learn that he fell off a ladder.

And in that very tragedy, in that very death, in that very definitive end, there was life. Because two years ago today, my dad received that man’s kidney. 

This kidney failure, this illness, this crippling disease, this life-extending gift . . . it impacts not just my father. It impacts family, friends, community. This pain was felt by so, so many. This pain forever altered daily life and forever altered how I live it.

Tonight, I want to pour out my heart with tales of brokenness and mercy and heavy loads lightened and the sick and the well and rich, undeserved grace. Tonight, I want to write it eloquently and heart-wrenchingly and beautifully. 


To bring to memory and put words to this is startling and healing and startling again. Much is a blur. When we try to un-blur memories, they sometimes return a bit sharper than we expected, yes?

I can’t write all about this kidney transplant right now. It’s too big. And to write it all down now, in all the detail and emotion and sentiment it deserves, feels like an attempt to mount an elephant in one running leap: insurmountable.

I want to tell you about all of it. I want to tell you how this disease started and how it continued. How it changed my life and my faith and my world. I want to tell you about families and fears and death and life and responsibility and vulnerability and weakness and strength. About dialysis and emergencies and shouting and silence and the fire department and the fire of hope that waned and waxed. About organ donation and transplants. I want to tell you about fathers and mothers and siblings and loving from afar and guilt and boundaries and walls and fences. About messes and tear-stained cardigans and tear-stained pillowcases. About rejection and meds. About neuropathy and biology and the heart. About lost and found and home. And about perseverance and anxiety and hiding and runny noses and teary eyes and beauty and healing and redemption and faith rebuilt.

And I will. I will tell you all about it. I’ll mount that elephant, wrinkle by wrinkle. I will, someday. 

But for tonight, I will celebrate. For tonight, I will give myself time and patience. What may be insurmountable tonight will not be always.

For tonight, grace. For tonight, hope. For tonight, joy and gratitude and praise. 

Speaking of grace, thanks for yours towards me. Rich love and rich support is what sustained me and my family then, and what sustains today. For being there two years ago and being there today and being there tomorrow, thank you. Beyond grateful for it all. You need to know how meaningful you are to me. (Yes, you.)

A joy to link up again this week with Joy in this Journey for Life:Unmasked.


22 thoughts on “life and death and kidney transplants

  1. yes, Sarah, you have much to celebrate. So, celebrate indeed. That story will pour fluid when your heart is ready to release it. Grace will not only sustain, it will make it surmountable. What a blessing.
    Thank you for sharing but glimpse of where some of your beauty comes from. It touched me deeply.

    all for Him,

    • Thank you so much, Nikki. Rich blessings for certain. Really glad to be getting to know you through the blog world, friend.

  2. I find it’s the messiest, scariest moments in life that show us how beautiful life truly is. Because those horrible moments also, when the darkness is peeled back, show us courage and hope and love. The true beauty of life passed from one person to another, or in this case, a group of others. All my love to you, beautiful Sarah, and to the people who made you so gorgeous: your family.


  3. I think your words here are beautiful and real – and I pray that you can celebrate with your family in the fullest way now. Trust that the story will emerge, as Nikki said, when it is time to tell it. For now, I celebrate God’s grace and provision for you and your family from one small corner of the blogging world to another. Many blessings to you today.

    • Hilary, thank you so much. You’re a gem. Thank you for celebrating with me! This blog world is pretty remarkable, is it not? I find strength and friendship constantly here!

  4. Sarah, I’ve been wrestling with the idea of writing about my dad’s death. I think I know your struggle. I feel the pull to share, but I feel the fear of ripping open the feelings. I wonder how this journey will go for us…

    • Katie. You will sense when the time is right to write about him. And then you may just find yourself writing and healing unexpectedly. I know in my series I have found unexpected thoughts and feelings. There was so much pain I had forgotten the good. Whenever the time is right, I will pray for you to be brave. Your words are lovely already.

      • Jamie, thank you so much. I have written a bit more on it privately, and the therapeutic power of writing constantly amazes me. Thank you so much for visiting!

    • Katie, we have so much to learn from each other. I know the journey won’t be easy, but I also have faith that God will carry us through as we wrestle with all of it.

  5. This is beautiful! Looking forward to the day you mount that elephant and unpack/process/tell the story. Until then, celebrating life (and grace) with you!!

  6. Thanks for visiting my site. I am in wonder of how our posts are somewhat similar in that we are remembering. And even though you are not writing about the transplant now, the words you’ve written are beautifully crafted. Thank you for sharing.

  7. wow, this reminds me much of my mom’s cardiac journey ever since i was a child (mini-strokes, arteries clogged 90-something %, surgeries, major scares, my heart racing at the sound of the telephone ringing, nights when i wondered what the next day held for our family).

    thank you so much for sharing this piece of you, sarah. celebrating with joy and gratitude with you!

    • Tanya, absolutely. Sometimes, because of how scary it is in the moment, we can hardly digest and process what is taking place. So glad that you were able to connect in this way! Grateful that you’ve visited, and please stick around 🙂

  8. I love you, Miss Sarah. And I love your family and the rich faith and love that they shared with you — it’s made you who you are today. I thank God for his providence and continue to pray for your wonderful family. Like so many have said, only when you look back on such a trying time can you see the beauty in it. And then praise the One who carried you through it. Know you’ll always have us all behind you, loving you and praying for you and celebrating with you, no matter what.

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