Three years ago I had a double lung transplant. It was successful, and three years later, I feel healthy and blessed. I received my new lungs on Valentine’s Day, which gave that day a special meaning for my wife and I, as I was on my deathbed, waiting for a miracle when I got the call from the hospital informing me they had a new set of lungs, an exact blood and size match. In addition to saving my life, my transplant not only forced me to reflect on my mortality, but also on the love and beauty that surrounded me.
One of the things that happens when you receive a transplant is you go on a lot of doctor visits, both before and after the operation. Before the operation, as my breathing capacity deteriorated, I became eligible to receive a handicap parking tag, which was a godsend at the time, as a walk of over twenty yards drained my body of oxygen. Now that I am healthy, my wife refuses to let me use the sticker, rightly asserting I don’t need it and others need it more.
But when I was using my handicap sticker, I began to observe couples who parked in the handicap spaces. And it was always one spouse who was helping their partner into a wheelchair, or a walker, usually the wife helping the husband. As I continued to observe this ritual, I realized I was bearing witness to deep and profound acts of love. I was witnessing the embodiment of “till death do us part.” Parking in handicap spaces granted me access to lifelong devotions, a sacred pledge that these couples would be there for each other during the good times and bad. It was a quiet courage. The handicap parking spaces were populated by couples who had not bailed on their partners during their time of vulnerability, and I was blessed to bear witness to these quiet, tender acts of devotion, acts of tender mercies.
I then realized we are all surrounded by these quiet, silent moments of love, of kindness, of courage. It is what sustains and nourishes our souls, makes us human, connects us. We just have to look; the beauty is right in front of our noses. And as I observed these partners in the handicap spaces, I realized what a gift my lung handicap bestowed upon me. It opened me up to the glory, and the grace that was all around me. I just had to look.
Thank you for sharing , Curt. I hope you have many more years of your healthy life.
I was one of those wheelchair wranglers and, of course, did it out of love for my husband of 32 years. As you pointed out: I was fulfilling the promise made on our wedding day. Our story didn’t have a happy ending as yours did but I thank you for noticing the love demonstrated in the task.
Thanks so much for your reply. It means a lot.
So beautiful and true. You are both walking miracles. So glad to have you among my friends.