I am more thankful than I can say for Mom's successful liver transplant.
It's truly amazing that organ transplants are even possible; just a couple of decades ago, they were much riskier and much rarer. I'm thankful for the generosity of organ donors, for the graciousness of their families, and for the skills of the medical staff who work together to perform these miracles.
I'm thankful that Mom was still relatively healthy when her new liver became available. She had had to retire, napped twice a day and required five daily doses of medicine to make up for her liver's lack of function, but she wasn't incapacitated or close to death or too sick to survive the surgery, as many people on the transplant lists are.
I'm thankful that I happened to be with Christy and Carrie, who are practically like sisters to me, when Mom called to tell me she was on her way to the hospital, and that they were there when it really hit me about 30 minutes later.
I'm thankful for wonderful friends and family who sent cards and care packages and freshly baked bread. Some people gave beyond what they could really afford to give, and it was humbling to be on the receiving end of such selflessness.
I'm thankful for excellent health insurance.
I'm thankful that Mom never spent a night alone, and for the way our whole family pulled together to make that possible.
I'm thankful for a husband who never complained about eating and sleeping alone every third night, who never mentioned the work I was missing, who passed along updates on Mom's condition so I wouldn't have to, who drove three hours roundtrip late one night to bring her vegetable soup, who never even implied that our visiting schedule was overkill.
I'm thankful for the smart, compassionate nurses who treated Mom with unfailing kindness and respect. I'm thankful that they let us be with Mom constantly, although I'm sure we sometimes got in their hair. Speaking of hair, I'm thankful that they let us wash hers in the bed when she couldn't get in the shower because of all the tubes.
I'm thankful for the green chairs that stretched out for overnight guests, for the hospital's wireless Internet access, and that most of her rooms had a private shower and toilet.
I'm thankful I didn't turn into a pizza despite eating it twice a day for two months.
I'm thankful for the timing of the transplant: It took place the week before Amanda and Stephen's scheduled move back to their hometown, so Amanda just arrived a little earlier than planned. I'm thankful that Mom did not get the call exactly two weeks earlier, on the morning that she was in South Carolina cheering me on at my marathon.
I'm thankful for our family's proximity to the hospital, which made our schedule much more manageable than it might have been, and that over all those weeks and miles none of us fell asleep while driving.
I'm thankful that we didn't know beforehand how long and complicated the recovery was going to be, and for Mom's faith and feistiness, which helped her overcome every bump in the road.
I'm thankful for the people who prayed for Mom, sometimes without knowing her, sometimes without any direct connection to her at all. I'm thankful for the way the whole experience gave me a new appreciation for the concept of praying without ceasing, and that through it all she was in the hands of a sovereign God.
I'm thankful that, as Dad looks toward joining Mom in retirement, the next 50 years are wide open for them. I'm thankful that my children and maybe even my grandchildren will know Mom.
I'm thankful that Mom reacquired her taste for coffee.