I love Christmas, it’s one of my favorite holidays. Like most people, Christmas is a time for me to spend some amazing quality time with my family. However, in order to do that, I have to make a 3+ hour drive to Northern PA. I spend every Christmas with my entire family: all 13 of us (aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents) sleep in the same house on Christmas Eve and spend all of Christmas Day together. It is beautiful chaos and I look forward to it every year. It’s totally worth dealing with the traffic and the crazy holiday drivers to be able to sit and laugh with my aunts and uncles, play Wii and have dance parties with my little cousins and place bets on what time my grandparents will return from midnight mass. It’s my favorite time of the year, hands down.
However, the holiday season for me is also very bittersweet, since I no longer get to spend Christmas with my dad, who passed away waiting for a liver four years ago right before Thanksgiving. Memories of the Christmases I spent with him run through my head during the entire holiday season, especially on Christmas day when I see my cousins, mom, aunts and uncles hugging their dads, thanking them for their presents and having those awesome little “Dad” moments that I miss so much. Watching these little moments, I am filled with so much sadness and longing that I can barely stand it. I would imagine this is a similar experience for anyone who is spending the holiday season without a loved one they have lost.
We always hear about the success stories of transplantation, and I wish nothing but health and happiness to all the recipients out there, but I think it’s especially important for us to remember that there are so many families out there who are not in the position to be celebrating their second chance at life this holiday season because they did not receive one.
This year, the number of people who died waiting for a life-saving organ transplant exceeds 4,000 people in the United States alone.
There are also thousands of donor families who will be missing members of their families this holiday season, and during every holiday season to come. In 2009, more than 6,000 people became heroes by donating their organs, eyes and tissues at the time of their deaths. It is important to keep them and their families in our thoughts and hope the knowledge that their loved ones saved at least one life can bring them a little peace this holiday season.
So to all donor families, thank you for your generosity during such a difficult time. I hope you find comfort in the fact that your loved ones will live on through the generous gifts they gave.
And to the families of those who were not able to receive the gift of life in time, hang in there. It’s tough, I know. Make sure for every tear you shed, and for every wave of sadness you experience, you counteract them with smiles and laughter as you remember the good times you were able to share with your loved one while they were with you.
Happy holidays, and please stay safe and healthy!