Decades ago my sister was having test, a bone marrow biopsy, to see what was happening. As my dad and I went to hear her results, we made a promise to each other, that we both would register to be part of the bone marrow registry. In the end, my sister was healthy, but we realized how many were not. By registering to be a donor, we had the possibility to save a life… each year I only wish I would match with someone… what a huge thing to have the opportunity to save the life of someone… someone I don’t even know.
As I have mentioned previously, I was a hospital chaplain for a year at a level one trauma hospital… that is a way to say… I experienced so much death in one year. I was there when people were told there were no more options, I sat with family as they slowly saw their loved ones (including children) slip away… I held the hand of a man when his family did not come as he was pulled off machines… I sang to him… I saw his life slowly fade… it was traumatic… it was sacred.
You don’t forget a year like I experienced. You see and experience death in such a real way… you can’t avoid it. I often say it was the hardest year of my life, yet I learned the most. You see patients and families grip to life in ways you never imagine… as I experienced individuals dying and knowing I was on a bone marrow registry, yet I didn’t match with anyone… I couldn’t save a life… I was helpless…
We praise those who save a life in our society… yet currently the easiest way to save a life is to wear a mask, yet we think such a task is too much… we make it political… we view it as an infringement on our rights… and my heart breaks. I have waited decades to be a match so I could have the opportunity to donate bone marrow. I only wish more people realized wearing a mask could save a life just as much as donating bone marrow… When did we stop seeing the humanity of the person next to us? When did we stop seeing the value in helping our neighbor? I can only hope we find our place again… because in seeing the humanity it is how we save a life.