A Wedding, A Kidney And A Wild and Precious Life

I’m excited. My husband Thor and I are flying out Thursday morning for the wedding of our niece Jess Hinckley and her fiancé Corbin Andrick (pictured) in Chicago. We love these young people. Celebrating their union will be a big hit of joy in our lives, and I’d imagine for everyone who comes.

I see a parallel between their choosing to marry and my moving toward live kidney donation.

I know that sounds strange. How does getting married (lovely, understandable, photogenic) correspond to the plan I’m forming to become a live kidney donor (puzzling to many, and non-photogenic in the extreme)?

Weddings and live kidney donation are both movement toward a wild and precious life.

Here are three parallels I see between taking someone’s hand in marriage and planning to give away a perfectly good kidney.

Both take a little audacity. Easier to just live together and not make big promises in front of God and everybody. Easier to keep both kidneys, skip transplant surgery and leave well enough alone.

In both marrying and moving to donate a kidney, you are asserting that you are able to give part of yourself to another. But things could go south. It’s possible you will fail. So you are taking on some risk.

Both are movement into community and away from individualism. Life stops being just about our personal selves, and gains a bigger scope of concern. Marriage creates a web of connectedness that didn’t exist before, not just between Jess and Corbin, but between the Hinckleys and the Corbins — whole families who used to be strangers to each other.

In parallel, live kidney donation is a sharing of one’s body, creating connectedness that didn’t exist before. This is true even if the donor and recipient never meet each other (called an undirected donation).

Both are proofs of love. Weddings, at least in our culture, are based on love for one specific person. While most live kidney donations are between family members, others are not, and are based instead on general love for humanity, and the desire to reduce suffering. But, love in both cases.

Pierre Reverdy said, “There is no love, there are only proofs of love.” Sentiment and good intentions aren’t enough. Love requires actions in order to be real.

Weddings catapult us into joy because they put us in touch with our wild and precious lives. We are rooting, ahead of time, for the newlyweds to succeed in their vows, to triumph in the coming years over their struggles with selfishness. All humans struggle to put “we” ahead of me”. I certainly struggle with it.

Jess and Corbin’s launch of their marriage and my launch of my plan to donate a kidney have plenty of common ground, much joy in the underpinnings. Though theirs will be prettier to look at.

2 thoughts on “A Wedding, A Kidney And A Wild and Precious Life”

  1. These are great observations, Alison. There is definitely a leap of faith when you go through these apparently dissimilar processes, and I think there is transcendence as well.

    1. Sherwin, I agree that transcendence is part of weddings and kidney donations. The fact you are a kidney donor lets you speak from experience! I think transcendence is part of certain other life experiences too, like births, deaths and Big Gives of various sorts. I hope to hear from people about ways in which they are giving big (kidney donation being just one way).

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