Love Thy Neighbor
I’ve been thinking lately about what makes a good friend. Is it someone who listens to you and holds your hand when you’re feeling down? Is it someone who doesn’t judge you and just loves you -- warts and all? Maybe a good friend is a person who laughs with you and tells you you’re funny – even when you aren’t. Or perhaps it is someone who gives freely of their time, their attention or – better yet -- their kidney.
According to my friend John, Thursday, February 2 is “National Donate a Kidney to a Friend Day.” I Googled the occasion. It doesn’t exist. So, why then did John post this on his Facebook page? He did it because this is the day he is donating a kidney to his neighbor.
Is his neighbor a friend? He is now. Was he a close friend in the past? More of an acquaintance, really. So why is John willing to donate a body part to someone he barely knows? Perhaps it is simply because, as he says, “It’s the right thing to do.”
John’s neighbor -- a husband and father of five children -- suffered from kidney disease earlier in his life, and his remaining kidney is now failing. For months, he has been on twenty-minute sessions of self- dialysis four times daily -- all while trying to work full-time and provide for his family. The waiting list in Virginia for a kidney donor is two-to-five years. Something – or someone – had to give.
Other than appendicitis at the age of 12, John has always been very healthy. Now in his early sixties, he wants to pay it forward. He wants his neighbor to enjoy the good health that he has been fortunate to know his whole life.
When I heard about what John was doing for his neighbor, I cried. I was so touched by his generosity. I’m not sure he even thought about it for that long. He just felt it needed to be done, and he wanted to be the one to do it. Like a calling, really.
When you talk to John about the subject, he’ll tell you that he is the one receiving a gift -- that he is thankful for the opportunity to make a difference in someone else’s life. I know John and the people who love him. I know that he has accomplished a lot in his life, and I am close friends with his children – all lovely, bright and kind. In my mind, he is a success. In my mind, he has already made a difference in so many lives.
Yet, at this stage in his life, John knows, without a doubt, that this was something he was meant to do as well. Call it fate. Call it destiny. I call it friendship – in the truest sense of the word.