Bravery is being the only one who knows you’re afraid

This was the message on my desk calendar on December 15th, 2005, the day of Terry’s transplant. I tore it off and kept it (and later scanned it) because it seemed so appropriate: it was, after all, a day of putting on a brave face, of repeating reassuring mantras which I didn’t really believe in (“It’ll be fine! It’s really quite a straightforward operation, you know? This is one of the best transplant units in the world! It’ll be fine!” ) and of being scared witless.

It was the day we got our lives back, and although I know he’d just shrug and say it was nothing, that he just did what anyone would have done, it was a day that wouldn’t have happened without the bravery and complete selflessness of Terry’s brother John, who was his kidney donor.

I expect John probably felt at least a little bit afraid too, as they wheeled him into surgery that morning. If he did, though, he was most definitely the only one who knew it: I know he was the only person in the room who didn’t cry when the time came.

Bravery is being the only one who knows you’re afraid.

After the transplant, I promised myself that things would be different from that point on, and that I would never allow myself to forget those two years of waiting, or the stress of sitting in that hospital reception waiting for news. I told myself I would never again get stressed or upset over silly, inconsequential things, and I would always remember how lucky I was just to be here, to have Terry back to full health, and to have our lives back. I didn’t do too well at that. I still worry obsessively about things that aren’t really very important. I still don’t deal well with stress. I still have a tendency to see the glass as being half full, when it’s so obviously overflowing.

I think that, on this fifth anniversary of T-Day, I’m going to start trying harder with that promise to myself. I may not succeed with it all the time, or even most of the time, knowing me. But I’m definitely going to try.