Chapter One: Diagnosis
Chapter Two: Donor?
Chapter Three: Dialysis
Chapter Four: Transplant
Chapter Five: Recovery
From My Lens

Some words from my uncle, Bill Cannon

Do you know why I'm here? Probably not. Probably not, but it matters, so I should relate ... Relate how my father's death 44 years ago brought me here. Here, now. In a hospital waiting room.

Alport's Syndrome, it is called. A degenerative disease that causes the kidneys to check out, not with a bang, with a whimper ...

My father came home from work one night. He and my mother were talking about insurance. He said, "Dorothy, it's not like I'm going to die tomorrow."

And he did. He died the next day, and my mother began to die a little bit every day since. A sadness that has born itself out in alcohol, superstition and tears.

Now the disease has affected my nephew's life. Now the family is in Chicago with their own alcohol, superstition, and tears. Two days ago my nephew stood in a bar room, weaving, laughing, mortal and filled with emotion.

Pleased that everyone travelled, afraid of the distance and meaning, announcing with love to strangers, family and friends that they were all part of the greatest April Fool's Day joke he had ever carried out.

And we roared and weaved and stood strong beside him.

So the operation is on. Here and now. A handful of zen and a running clock. Surgeons announce all is well, like criers making the city safe.

Life is distant, sometimes.

Everyone sits. One by one, thinking about the fragile light sunshining through each of us. We stand by windows and look down eleven floors (good number, eleven, don't you think?). We wonder and marvel, separately and together, at how so much depends on so little. Where is the rain-glazed wheelbarrow?

I laugh then. A bright, hopeful laugh that carries through walls, onto tables, into anesthesia dreams.

A laugh will help, I believe. A laugh will be a ticket of good passage, a song easing the fear of a dangerous journey.

It will move out in the world, it will move through time and land before your eyes.

It will pause lightly, the smallest of songbirds touching upon the thinnest of wires.

Then laughter will echo through your heart to shake and lighten and heal you. It will lead you into a smile.

Hold onto it. The smile is important. It is a key. It joins you to an artist, standing on a street, drawing you to him, sketching happiness to life. All around you will become alive to the sounds of the world.

In the distance you will hear the faint sound of a jet airliner, passing above. Moving through darkness. With animals asleep in its belly. Animals dreaming of flight.

Alive in a sky, filled with sound ... like the sound the sky makes when an idea jets across a canvas of infinite color. It says, "Five o'clock and all is well." And your eyes feast upon the thought of healing, and ever so lightly, you smile.

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