In exactly two weeks I celebrate my 41st birthday. I’ve always had a bit of a thing for birthdays. They act as a perfect excuse for some of my favourite things – like good company, great food and lots of silliness.
My 33rd birthday was a very different affair. Friends gathered at our home and there were lots of thoughtful gifts, kind remarks and hugs that lasted slightly longer than normal. We all smiled, laughed and celebrated but there was a tangible uncertainty hanging in the air – the proverbial elephant in the room.
We never met. I have no idea whether you enjoyed blowing out the candles on your cake or hated birthdays with a passion. You may have been a husband, father, brother or uncle. Perhaps you spent your time walking in the Scottish highlands. Maybe you loved nothing more than a night in front of the telly with a glass of wine. It’s quite odd, sharing a close and unbreakable bond with a total stranger.
I have a lot to thank you for. Thanks to you I have competed in the York 10k and followed the excitement of the 2012 British Olympics with great joy. Walking at Malham Cove and White Horse at Sutton Bank. Dashing upstairs for a forgotten jacket and hurrying for a bus as I see it coming round the corner. I run my own business, doing work I love for fantastic and inspiring clients; some of whom have become lifelong friends. None of this would be possible without your generous act.
Finally, you gave me the greatest gift of all. The gift of time. Time to spend with my husband, family and friends. Time to see them grow and take great strides, time to be able to support them in their periods of hurt. Time to be a wife, daughter, sister and friend.
Today is the seven year anniversary of your gift. This year we returned to a favourite little Italian restaurant of ours. Ate too much food, cried a little, laughed a lot. You were in our thoughts, as you are every year. I guess that when you signed that donor card you never imagined it would be needed. But it was an action that would go on to make you a life saver. Today is the anniversary of the day that you saved my life.
We never met. Thank you for taking the brave decision to be an organ donor. Thank you for entrusting your precious heart to a total stranger. I will do my best to keep taking good care of it. In two weeks time I celebrate another birthday. I intend to make the most of it.
If you are interested in learning more about registering to be an organ donor please visit the NHS UK website.