Liver Day: An anniversary of gratitude


Friday was Liver Day at our house. Exactly three years ago John

Liver Donor Hero, Whitney Meriwether

received his liver transplant. Approximately one-half of Whitney’s, the living donor’s, liver was surgically removed and placed in John’s abdomen. I remember the day at the Mayo Clinic in the waiting room, imagining the surgeons meticulously slicing and tying, opening and sealing back up. I visualized all the cancer,

Whitney and John, post transplant

including John’s bile ducts, getting thrown in the garbage bin beside the operating table.

I would like to say that in the three years since John’s transplant, we’ve lived every day as well as we possibly could. While that’s not exactly true, it’s pretty close. We have made a ritual of gratitude, voicing all the tiny and grand things that we are grateful for every day. Spontaneity has ruled around here.


We’ve learned to surf, we’ve jumped out of an airplane, we’ve traveled to Bhutan and Costa

John checking the depth

Rica, we’ve logged in some serious powder turns.

Going forward I want to keep this momentum going. Life is precious. This miniscule little flame we are given must be tended and appreciated. It’s brief, but brilliant, and I hope we don’t miss any of it. I hope the angel of gratitude always sits at our table.

It’s easy to rack up transcendent moments, if you simply look around and appreciate them.

What about you? What are you grateful for today?

17 responses »

  1. A question we should think about every day. What am I grateful for today? My boys–they bring so much joy to my life, even when they are making me crazy.

  2. Today, for starters, I am grateful for you sharing your story. What a beautiful reminder of how precious and brief our little flame is. I hope you don’t mind if I borrow your ‘ritual of gratitude’. Thank you.

    • Jim,
      That is such a wonderful comment. It made my day. I’m grateful for it. And yes, please borrow the gratitude ritual. Pass it around. It’s a wonderful little gem.

  3. Congratulations, Kim! How wonderful that he’s doing so well, and that you’ve used it as a reminder to embrace life. We can all take a lesson from this. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks Wendy. Life is full of lessons, and, I believe, that if we learn them the first time we won’t have to repeat them. I don’t want to ever lose the gift of gratitude. Nor do I want to have to learn that lesson again.

  4. Wow- that is a pretty amazing story. As a nurse, organ transplants and the patients that are on both sides of the surgery are absolutely amazing. I see all the horrible stuff people go through from the other side, so it’s easier to distance myself from the pain and the difficulty they go through. It’s so awesome that you guys are living life to the fullest. That’s the best part.

    As for what I’m grateful for- pretty simple. Sunshine and warmth for the past two days.

  5. When I read this I think I should spend less time watching TV. When I look back over my life and think of all the greatest moments, none of them will have been watching TV. Thanks for the inspiration.

  6. Thanks for the wonderful reminder to be grateful for every moment. I’ve been feeling a little free-floating anxiety this morning by the reality that my job is going to be gone the end of June and I don’t have anything else lined up. But I’m forging ahead with my plans for a trip to Italy this fall, and probably Alaska this summer. Because, well, life flies by and too many years have gone by without doing so many of these adventures I dream about. I’m grateful that I made it to Bhutan a few years ago, a decades-long dream, and that you and your husband did too. Sooo, what am I grateful for right now? I’m grateful for the nice people I’ve worked with over the years who are sitting in cubes around me right now. I’m grateful for the love and affection of my friends and family, even though I’d like a little more love in the form of a mate. But mostly I’m grateful to be in good health and of (relatively) sound mind, right here, right now.

    • Jill,
      Best of luck on this next phase in your adventure. Trips to AK then Italy sound like an excellent way to start. It can be scary to take off in a new direction when you still can’t see the ground under your feet. It’s a bit like jumping out of an airplane. But the chute will open. No doubt about it.

  7. Beautifully stated, Kim, as usual. I wish you and John a million more anniversaries. 🙂

    As for me, I’m grateful for the life I’ve created, the relationships I continue to nurture and for the simple moments of life. Oh, and hot showers. Those are pretty special, too. 😉

    • I agree about hot showers. When I worked for Outward Bound, that first hot shower after a month or two in the field was such a blessing. Even now as I enter the shower every day, I try to remember the feeling that those first tentacles of water rushing over my dirty body. Pure bliss.

  8. Hi Kim,

    Really enjoyed this post, which has stayed with me since I first read it — in particular, the open question on which you ended. I’m a transplant recipient myself (kidney), and I try to live in that spirit of gratitude and hew to the recognition that life, however short and fragile, is an incredible gift not to be squandered. But I’m as prone as anyone to getting sucked in by personal minutae and the aggravation everyday life tends to pepper us with. So, thanks for the reminder; and congratulatinos to your husband.

    • Dan,
      Thanks so much for speaking up here. Organ donation is a life gift–a world of giving and receiving often in the midst of someone else’s tragedy. The experience taught me much about the limits and the bounds of the human spirit. The trick is to stay grateful without these kinds of spirit-wrenching experiences and lessons. Thanks for letting know that my words touched you. There’s no better compliment. All the best, Kim

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