(Artwork: Van Gogh’s “At Eternity’s Gate”)
“The hour of departure has arrived, and we to go our separate ways, I to die, and you to live. Which of these two is better only God knows.” Apology, from the Dialogues of Plate, Volume 2
I haven’t written in a few days for which I apologize. This letter to my donor’s family has been weighing heavily on my mind. I don’t want to keep putting it off, but at the same time I don’t want to rush it and make everything sound manufactured. In reality I am writing this letter to thank my donor’s family, but really I am thanking my donor through them. When I think about it, it always ends up with me weighing my actions this year and leading up to this moment. There is some dark humor in a former addict trying to defend their bad decisions with clever rhetoric and attempting to make promises to lead a pure, better life after their child’s gift to me. My life was my donor’s last action on this earth. They gave me the gift of life.
So how do you truly thank someone that has already left this earth for what they did for you? Traditionally families and friends pay for permanent markers, gravestones, monuments even as a physical place to feel like they are still connected to the person they have lost. Others, like my father, leave little hints still in place around their home to remind them that the person is not entirely gone, and definitely not gone forever as they believe will see them again one day. To this day my dad still hasn’t moved my mom’s purse from where she left it in the kitchen the evening before she died. Some people leave their loved one’s entire room untouched for years. What are we afraid of that we require so many visual cues of those that have passed away? Do we believe that if we have something tangible to see and touch then the person will still be here in some way? What will our loved ones leave around to remind them of our impact on their lives? All questions that keep circling my mind as I work on my donor letter.
I wish I knew what kind of person my donor was. Not that it would change anything, but an article I found online that a heart and lung recipient wrote to her donor made me think about it. It also reminded me of the movie Seven Pounds. Great movie if you haven’t seen it. I know that alot of people check the donor box without thinking or because they don’t want the person at the DMV judging them. Or they buy into the urban myth that if EMT’s see that you’re a donor when you’re in an accident they will let you die. It’s probably too much to ask, but I wish everyone that has checked the donor box to really, truly understand what that means and how that one action will be one of the greatest things and impacts on this world that you could do.
Here’s a link to the article in case anyone’s curious: