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Twelve years ago today, I was standing on the banks of the Grand Canyon, getting engaged to my lovely Terry. 

Ten years ago today, I was sitting in a hospital reception area, waiting to find out if the transplanted kidney which Terry was receiving from his brother, John (and which we’d found out he needed just a few days after we got engaged), would be a success.

It’s fair to say December 15th is a pretty big day for us.

Thankfully, the transplant WAS a success: but, of course, I didn’t know that at the time. In fact, being the doom-mongerer and general worrywart that I am, I was 100% convinced Terry was going to die on the operating table: and probably John, too, for that matter.

I’ve never believed in fate: I don’t think “these things happen for a reason” or that “what’s for you won’t go by you”, but fear makes believers of all of us, and as I sat there, watching workmen put up a giant Christmas tree in the lobby of the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary (and wondering how on EARTH anyone could even THINK about Christmas, given that the world was about to end?), I became more and more convinced that the date was more than a coincidence. That the life we should have started together on December 15th, 2003, was going to end on December 15th, 2005, and that there was absolutely no way that this would not come to pass.

(Yeah, I was a real joy to be around that day, seriously.)

loveheart on the window

We didn’t really celebrate our engagement. There was no party, no excited planning of the wedding day – I don’t think we even got many cards, other than a handful that were given to us with an apologetic, “We didn’t really know if it was appropriate given that Terry’s in hospital, but…”. What can people say, though, when you’ve announced your engagement by saying, “Guess what? I got engaged! And also Terry has kidney failure: he’s going to need a transplant!”

I didn’t care about any of that, though. I didn’t feel cheated of the whole “engagement” experience, because I didn’t think there would ever be a wedding. Honestly, I didn’t think our future would hold ANYTHING other than dialysis sessions, emergency trips to the hospital, and the scent of disinfectant and despair.

I have never been so glad to be wrong about something in my life. And the reason I was wrong about it? Terry’s brother, John. Who was wheeled off to the operating theatre that morning with a cheerful wave and a “see you later”, as if what he was doing WASN’T the bravest, most selfless thing I’ve ever seen in my life. Which it was, of course – although not to John. To John, it was just the obvious solution to the problem: of course he would give his brother a kidney. That’s just the kind of person he is, and we will never stop being thankful for it, although never more so than on December 15th.  (Quick shout-out here to Terry’s mum, and to his brother, Niko, who both also went through testing with a view to donating a kidney. Totally filling up here just thinking about it…)

So the transplant worked, and it’s still working, ten years later. I wish I had known it at the time. Sometimes when I think about that day I wish I could go back in time, sit down beside my younger self, and say, “Look, it’s going to be OK, you know. He’s going to be OK. In fact, he’s going to be better than OK. You’ll get married. You’ll move house. That business you started will keep on going, so you won’t have to go back to that job you hated. You’ll go to San Francisco, and Los Angeles – hell, you’ll even go back to Las Vegas, and this time you’ll see it without all of the health-related anxiety. One day all of this will be ten years ago, and things WILL be better.”

So now that day has come. It’s ten years later, and on THIS December 15th we’ll go out for dinner, open a bottle of champagne, and think about how incredibly lucky we are. Thank you, John, for being one of the bravest people I know: and happy T-Day, Terry (the other one).

Welcome to fabulous Las Vegas

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22 Comments
  • Wendy
    December 15, 2015

    I remember it all so well, I cannot believe it is 10 years ago! I’m so glad that John is a match for Terry and a selfless human being, and delighted that you are both here, happy and successful, all this time later. Xx

    • Amber
      December 15, 2015

      I know, I can’t believe it either – it still feels like yesterday! And I’ll never forget your support back then, so thanks to you, too – helped me through some very dark days 🙂

  • Alex
    December 15, 2015

    Something in my eye… happy T-Day to both of you. x

  • Anna
    December 15, 2015

    Hi Amber, I kind of want to give you a virtual weird hug thing on here *Hug* . We all braver then we think we are. xx

  • The Other Emma
    December 15, 2015

    Happy T-Day and engagement anniversary!! Now, I’m off to find those damn Ninja onion cutters who are making my eyes water………………

  • Alison
    December 15, 2015

    I’m emotional reading it as I can relate to those feelings so well. Transplants are amazing things and am so happy both our husbands are doing well xxx

  • Lily
    December 15, 2015

    Happy T-Day, Amber and Terry!

  • Holly
    December 15, 2015

    Also welling up here! Congratulations to you both and I hope the next ten years are equally fruitful.

  • Jennifer
    December 15, 2015

    It is so wonderful that you had people like that in your lives to help you and support you. Happy T-Day and many, many, many, more to come!

  • Trona
    December 15, 2015

    happy happy t-day! may it be stress free and full of happiness xx

  • Liz in Paris
    December 15, 2015

    Bravo to all three of you! Must have been a nightmare at the time. Hope things continue to go well.

  • Livia
    December 15, 2015

    I can’t imagine how you both felt 10 years ago, and your families and friends. Happy T-day to you! I hope you have an amazing celebration today and in all the years to come.

  • CiCi Marie
    December 15, 2015

    Well, I’m all emotional now! I love hearing stories that make me realise there are amazing, selfless people in the world like John. Talk about faith restored in humanity. Here’s to many more decades!

  • Rosanna
    December 15, 2015

    What a lovely post! Happy T-Day Amber and Terry.
    I love reading your blog so much, I hope the next 10 years and beyond are full of happiness for you both x

  • Heather
    December 15, 2015

    Congratulations, you two 🙂 Im so glad that everthing eventually worked out! How lucky a family member was a match!

  • Annabelle
    December 15, 2015

    This anniversary is marvelous and your post brought a lot of emotion. It’s a good thing to help everyone on this occasion to focus on the generosity. That’s what bring joy in the world.

  • Myra
    December 15, 2015

    I was so delighted to hear of your engagement, and at the same time sadness for Terry’s illness, and how he kept being infected with MRSA in the hospital right up until the surgery when you and your parents scrubbed his room within an inch of its life, and stopped all the medics at the door to insist they clean their hands. That is love.
    People who show such bravery as John don’t see it as bravery at all – just as the right thing to do. But you were all so brave, including you and Terry and both of your families. That is love. You got a miracle that day.

  • Myra
    December 15, 2015

    And your wedding day as the most beautiful bride, not a dry eye in the room, such was your recognition of, and gratitude to John. May you have a great T day anniversary and many more years of happiness and success.

    • Amber
      December 16, 2015

      Thanks, Myra – we have lovely memories of that day 🙂 I still can’t bring myself to watch the video of the speeches, though – makes me cry just to think about it!

  • Charlotte
    December 15, 2015

    I am sorry you had to go through that with your husband. A few years sgo my husband had an operation on his knee (a relatively minor operation) and as I kissed him as he went off to theatre I had convinced myself he wasnt going to ever come back. Queue two hours of crying in the hospital restaurant until he came back smiling!

    Charlotte

  • Corinne
    December 15, 2015

    Gah, it’s terrible that you and your family had to go through that, it’s horrible to fear the worst when you want to hope for the best but don’t want to get your hopes up too much… I’m so glad the transplant work and continues to work today 🙂

    Corinne x

  • Steph
    December 16, 2015

    What a lovely post (if it is possible to write something lovely about something so awful, that is!) When you’re in the middle of such trauma it can be so hard to see past right now and into the future, thank heavens it all worked out for the best and you can look back on the experience, take stock, and be grateful it turned out the way it has. So many people fail to appreciate what they have, you will never take your blessings for granted and in a strange way that’s a gift. God, that sounds like one of those patronising cringey statements on a sunset that you hate so much, so I’ll stop now! Anyway, if there is one thing I take from this post it’s to remember to look back at where I’ve come from every now and then and count my blessings rather than dwell on the negatives. Life is good.

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