A Late Night Call
The call came hours after midnight, finding him hunched over the dining table, wondering if this desperate measure would work.
He’d found himself at the end of the line, watching as the woman he loved suffered.
He’d have done anything – was doing everything to save her. Getting tested at the hospital was his way of showing her this. But nothing could have ever prepared him for what the doctor would discover.
He took a deep breath before picking up the call. Shrouded in darkness, the house was almost silent, with nothing but crickets singing their nightly song outside and the radio playing 80’s rock and roll music upstairs.
He knew she was asleep and was glad because he didn’t want her awake when the doctor shared the bad news.
But to him, the bad news was supposed to be that he could not donate his kidney. He had no idea that what he’d hear would take on a very different, unexpected turn.
But for Tim Mahone, this was supposed to be his second chance at love.
At fifty-five years old, he’d finally found someone who completed him in every way possible.
He’d never thought he’d be capable of love again. She was everything to him and more. But his world would come crashing down after a single phone call from her doctor.
Tim had never been one to believe in love or second, third, or fourth chances.
He’d had his fair share of heartbreaks, each of which worked hard to show him that nothing in the world was fair.
Even as a child, he’d suffered under the wrath of love. Coming from a broken home, he’d seen firsthand what love could do to a family. At fifty-five, he never thought he’d have to suffer under it anymore.
His Everyday Life
Tim was a struggling deli owner in a small town in Kansas. He’d started his business back in his thirties, and for years, it had boomed.
But in recent times, disaster after disaster had wrecked him into the ground.
Sometimes, it would be burglars and looters; other times, tornadoes and unlucky vehicles veering off the slippery highway. Life had never been fair to Tim, and he was almost closing down the deli. But his plans changed when he met her.
The woman, Cindy Callahan, a twenty-five-year-old lawyer new to town, had walked into the deli at eight one morning, asking for someone to help her with a jack to change her car’s tire.
She’d gotten a flat down the road and had walked for thirty minutes to get here. Of course, Tim helped her with no questions asked.
To him, a good deed never hurt anyone. If only he knew where fate was leading him.
A Short Drive
Tim and Cindy hopped into Tim’s truck, and the fifty-five-year-old drove the twenty-five-year-old to her car. Tim had expected the drive to be quiet and peppered with sparse small talk.
But he was pleasantly surprised when Cindy commented about loving his truck and the deli he ran. Tim told her how much had happened to the deli.
He relayed each disaster that had befallen him, and the lady listened to him and offered sound counsel. Was their chance meeting written in the stars?
Getting To Work
Tim took Cindy to her car and helped her change her tire, although Cindy insisted on doing most of the work. “My daddy told me no woman should wait on a man to fix her tire,” she joked in a thick Texan accent, rolling up her sleeves before getting to work.
Afterward, she thanked Tim and drove away, and for the rest of the day, he sat in his deli daydreaming about her.
He was sure he’d never see her again when she appeared at the shop’s front door that evening.
A Box Of Dunkin Donuts
“I thought I’d properly thank you,” Cindy said as she walked in. She handed Tim a small box of Dunkin Donuts, a token of appreciation for what he’d done for her.
She explained that on her walk to the deli that morning, she’d passed several vehicles and shops, none of which offered her help.
And just like that, the two became friends. But their friendship blossomed, with an unseen bond pulling the two closer with each passing day. If only they knew what they were getting themselves into.
Countless Beautiful Moments
What started as a chance encounter on a nondescript morning ended up as countless beautiful moments spent at diners and restaurants, the cinema, the park, and the woods.
Tim couldn’t explain it. One moment, he was talking to Cindy about his life and the many misfortunes he’d had to endure, and the next, she was in his arms, promising him that nothing wrong could ever happen to him again.
But these very words would come to bite both of them.
A Blissful Two Years
For two years, the couple courted, enjoying all that life had to offer despite their glaring age gap. Tim’s once gray life took on vibrant colors, showing him that perhaps love wasn’t such a bad thing.
He’d never thought that he’d experience something so breathtaking and unbelievable at his age.
Cindy was showing him things he’d only read in books or watched on the TV. But a dark cloud was already looming over this perfect paradise.
She’s The One
In the time that Tim and Cindy dated, she’d taken him to Texas to meet her family, and he had introduced her to all his friends in Kansas.
He’d already made up his mind about wanting to spend the rest of his life with her and only hoped she felt the same.
Judging from everything she’d done, from introducing him to her folks to moving in with him, it was clear she did. None of them knew that they were reading wrongly into this.
A Sharp Pain
It all started with a sharp pain while the two were watching a late night movie. Cindy, who had been happily telling Tim about her day at work, suddenly cried out, palming her lower stomach.
She cursed out and squinted. “Something’s wrong,” she said, holding her palms in place as she locked eyes with Tim.
She hissed out a breath and yelped, “Something’s definitely wrong.”
Is She Joking?
At first, Tim thought Cindy was joking, trying to make him laugh. She always did so when he was having a hard day, and most of the time, it usually worked.
But tonight, no hidden smiles were lingering behind her contorted face.
A look of pure anguish painted across her visage as her eyes bloomed with tears, indicating something was wrong.
To The Emergency Room
Tim sprung into action, rushing to Cindy’s side to assess her condition. “Where does it hurt?” he asked. Cindy rubbed her lower stomach without taking away her palms, only whimpering as an answer.
Tim rushed for his keys and helped her to his truck, strapping her in and driving to the emergency room.
One look at how worried he was, and the nurses rushed to wheel Cindy away. What was happening?
Tim waited three hours before the doctor came out of the emergency room.
He looked calm and collected, though Tim could sense an air of foreboding about him.
“Tim,” he called in a friendly voice. The two had been in high school together, and although they’d never been close friends, they held an air of familiarity with each other. “Frank,” Tim greeted him with a curt nod. What news did the doctor have for him?
“How is she?” he asked. “Stable, for now,” answered Frank. He took out a sheet of paper and went through it before pausing.
“Her kidneys are thoroughly damaged,” he said after a moment.
“One is right on the verge of collapsing while the other will follow soon.” He sighed, then added, “She doesn’t have long, Tim. But we are doing all we can.”
We Can Fix This
Frank continued talking, soothingly offering Tim all the ways they could remedy the situation.
But Tim couldn’t speak. He couldn’t even hear whatever the doctor was spewing.
The news he’d just heard had hit him like a fifty-caliber bullet to the chest, leaving him reeling with nothing but a gaping hole where his heart should be. “How long does she have?” he found himself murmuring.
A Few Months
“Not much,” Frank answered somberly. “The first kidney has mere weeks before it gives out. The second one has a few months.
But we can save her if we find a kidney donor. Can you contact her family? Her parents, siblings, or any close relative will be a good fit.”
“Certainly,” Tim answered. He took a deep breath to calm himself. For a moment there, he’d thought he’d lose the love of his life. But if there were a chance to save her, then he’d do it without hesitation.
Calling Her Family
Tim wasted no time in calling Cindy’s dad. The man, a decade older than Tim, had become one of his good friends.
He explained everything, asking if Cindy had any past medical problems that might have resulted in her kidneys failing.
But her dad didn’t know of any medical issues that could have caused such. Regardless, although hesitantly, he was more than willing to have his entire extended family test if they were a match for Cindy.
The tests began, and for a month, each came out as negative. Cindy, who had been put on homecare, was more than heartbroken by the news.
She couldn’t understand how the tests kept coming out as negative.
From her mom and dad to her three brothers and two sisters, none of them were a match. But that wasn’t the most puzzling part.
Usually, because of how DNA information is passed down from one generation to the next, a parent to a child could have at least a 50% chance of matching when it comes to tests like these.
For siblings, the percentage varies between zero to a hundred. But each of the tests from Cindy’s side of the family came out as a strong negative.
But this wasn’t the most worrying part.
End Of The Year
The most worrying part was that Cindy needed a kidney transplant before the year came to a close.
With September just starting, she was already counting the days until her last kidney failed, and she said goodbye to everyone she loved.
Her mom and sisters traveled from Texas to be with her, helping Tim care for her. They even rented a house down the street, coming over whenever Cindy needed anything. Cindy had no idea that her mom hid vital information from her.
Time’s Running Out
With the failed DNA tests, Tim started wondering how he could tackle the issue.
Frank had already put Cindy on the transplant list. But although that was good news, it didn’t necessarily mean she’d find a matching donor by December.
Time was running out, and Tim needed to save the love of his life. Driven to an act of desperation, he did the only thing a man in his shoes could do.
Tim drove straight to the hospital and asked Frank to test if he was a match for Cindy.
It was a long shot, but what did he have to lose? Frank looked at him incredulously before obliging. He’d never seen such pain and hopelessness in a person before.
He informed Tim that he’d call the next day with the results. But after what he would uncover, he’d be unable to wait for morning before breaking the news.
A Night Of Heartbreaks
Soft 80’s rock played in Tim’s house as he watched the phone ring. The hour was leaning toward 3 a.m., and Frank’s name was blinking on Tim’s screen.
He already knew he wasn’t a match and was prepared for the bad news.
But when he answered, Frank sounded shocked and equally confused. He explained that he’d just uncovered why Cindy’s relatives weren’t a match or viable donors. She was adopted! But that was only the tip of his world-shattering discovery.
It’s A Match!
“You are a match!” he almost shouted. But his excitement was short lived as his tone took a drastic, darker shift.
He explained how DNA is usually passed down from one generation to the next, informing Tim of what he was looking at.
Tim listened carefully, and steaming cracks formed all over his heart with every word left Frank’s mouth. “No. No,” Tim cried. “How?”
A Hard To Swallow Pill
Frank had explained that having a high match between a wife and her husband was rare.
But Tim and Cindy’s percentage was record-breaking. That had prompted him to look into the DNA samples closely.
Tim sank to the floor as the message settled into his brain. He banged the back of his head against the kitchen drawers, crying as he listened. “She’s my daughter?”
But Frank was telling the truth. When Tim was a senior in high school, he’d made a few bad decisions and gotten his high school girlfriend pregnant.
But since he and her came from struggling families, their parents agreed to give their child up for adoption. This was one of Tim’s first brushes with the cruel side of love.
Although he understood that it was better for the child if she grew up in a family that could provide for her, he hated that he’d never see her again. For years, he cried himself to sleep, praying that she was safe wherever fate had decided to take her. He’d never thought he’d meet her again, especially under such light.
A Morning Of New Beginnings
Tim spent an hour on the kitchen floor, wondering what to do next. The amount of guilt, shame, and self-hate that was churning within him had rendered him immobile. In the morning, he drove straight to the hospital with Cindy and her mom, and Frank took a few more samples to test.
In the end, Cindy was indeed Tim’s lost child. The two broke up immediately, although Tim donated his kidney as planned. But Cindy begged him not to blame or hate himself for everything that had happened.
None of this was his fault. She prays for the two of them to start their relationship afresh. Though as father and daughter. Nothing else will be more fitting.
Disclaimer: To protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.