Two strangers recently met in a hospital.

One was Rick Pomelow of Maine; the other was Mark Obert of Monument. Mark had come to save Rick’s life.

In one part of the country, Rick had been suffering. Throwing up, head throbbing, heart racing. Hooked up to a machine, blood filtering in and out, making him miserable. Dialysis. He couldn’t live like this, but no, he couldn’t go. Had to be here for his wife and daughter, who’d be 14 soon.

Rick was always strong. Had to be strong growing up on welfare. Strong for his sick mother. Strong for his Army comrades. Strong in Afghanistan. Strong in retirement, lifting more and more weight. Now the 235-pound frame he built was depleted.

Rick needed a kidney, and he’d be gone before he was next on the waiting list.

He took to Facebook. “I really hate to ask this and I swore I never would ...”

In another part of the country, Mark came across the post. And he got this feeling. Heard this voice. This feeling and this voice he couldn’t explain to nonbelievers, so to them he’d say it was like another Air Force command, resolute.

“This is something I have to do,” he told his family.

And he’d tell that to the lab specialists who’d raise an eyebrow at some blood sample. He’d go back, test again, pass again, test again.

Rick would tell Mark on Facebook he didn’t have to keep doing this. This was how other hopefuls fell through. But not Mark.

On April 8, they met. One final test before the transplant.

Ten days later, surgery was complete. Success.

And when Mark came through the door, Rick embraced him and cried into his shoulder. They both cried, holding each other for a long time before Rick could find the words.

“We’re brothers.”

Seth is a features writer at The Gazette, covering the outdoors and the people and places that make Colorado colorful.

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