Like a lot of children, I grew up with an alcoholic parent. I was the youngest child of my father’s second marriage. My dad was decades older than my mom. In my father’s maturity, my mother found a sense of safety and stability. In my mother’s youth, my father found a fresh start and a lighter heart. What they saw in each other was genuine. And like many couples, what they saw, revealed, and became to each other changed over the course of their marriage.
Human beings are absolutely capable of extraordinary acts of selfless courage and heart wrenching generosity. Many of them will never know the names, let alone the lives, of those whom they saved. Among these brave, generous people are organ donors, who literally give a part of themselves for the chance that another may live.
I came into the world old. By that, I don’t mean an old, wise soul. I mean a child who was, from the beginning, overly familiar with death. By the time that I, the youngest child of a second marriage was born, my old father was on his way to dying and my young mother was in the deep end of the ocean caring for him.
Some experiences in life will absolutely break your heart. Count on it. It comes with all the beautiful, staggering territory of being mortal. These are not the everyday losses or even things that feel like they break your heart in the moment. For example, when your ten year old insists that they must drink cola out of your great grandmother’s crystal cocktail glass and promptly drops it on the floor right after she says she won’t drop it. Now you have a set of five to pass on to her and a good story, but at the time your heart really hurt. I’m talking about the losses that cause us to question everything we believe in.