Every fortnight, I donate blood plasma. I’ve been doing it for approximately two years now and I’d like to tell you why.
When I sit in that chair, with a needle in my arm, I’m not donating just blood. I’m donating memories.
Four years ago, my father-in-law was diagnosed with Cancer. In the time he was sick, he had to have countless blood transfusions. These transfusions gave him back to us, time and again. Together with Chemotherapy, Radiation and all the other treatments that come with Cancer, these blood transfusions extended his time with us and for that I will always be grateful. I wish I could track down and hug the people who took the time and effort to donate blood – their momentary discomfort gave us a priceless gift.
I donate blood because, without it, my Baby G would not have known her Bumpa. She would not have memories of him playing the clown at the dinner table. She would not have memories of the deep discussions they had and how he listened intently to all she had to say. She wouldn’t still talk about him cuddling her at bedtime and telling her special stories. She would have missed out on this:
I donate blood because, without it, my Little Man got to have three and a half years of gut-splitting laughter. He got to watch, in disbelief, as his Bumpa, did crazy things only to make him laugh. He got to learn that laughter fixes everything and is worth seeking actively and passionately. Without those blood donors, Little Man would have missed this:
I donate blood because Miss M was given three extra years of feeling like the centre of the Universe. Her Bumpa had the gift of making every child he was with feel like the most important child in the world. Miss M confided in her Bumpa when she felt sad, scared, happy, excited, nervous. He was her friend. Without those blood donors, Miss M would have lost out on three and a half years of experiencing true friendship and unconditional love. Without those blood donors, Miss M would have missed this:
I donate blood because it gave us the gift of extra time with our amazing father and grandfather. It gave me time to tell him how much I loved him. It gave me time to thank him for the gift of his son, my husband. It gave me time to watch my children experience the all-encompassing love and endless laughter he dished out generously and continuously. It gave our children time to know him and to love him. It gave the world extra sunshine, even through the dark, heavy Cancer cloud.
My father-in-law donated anonymously to many charities all his life. Through him, countless needy children got Christmas presents. Through his generosity, many handicapped children were given wheelchairs, computers, games. His last charitable donation (made while he was debilitatingly sick, in the last months of his life) was gaming consoles, computers and entertainment stations for the Children’s Hospital. My father-in-law was all about giving. He never asked for acknowledgement. In fact, we never knew about his charitable work until after he was gone. He never attached strings to anything he gave to anyone. He taught us all to give give give.
This is why I donate blood.
I donate blood because, even though it hurts (a little) and takes a chunk of time out of my day, it’s nothing compared to the pain and loss of time experienced by the people who receive it. My slight discomfort is more than worth the extra cuddles, giggles and love gained by the families of those on the receiving end.
I donate blood because I can.
I donate blood because I am healthy.
I donate blood because it costs nothing and gives everything.
I could hate Cancer for taking my father-in-law away, and most days I do. Most days I’m filled with a black rage at that monster named Cancer. But today, as I sat in that chair at the Donor Centre, I chose to love those people who gave us the gift of their blood, instead. They thought they were donating blood. They were wrong. They donated memories to my family. They donated smiles and the kind of laughter that renders you breathless to my children. They donated time for us to hold hands and say ‘I love you’.
My father-in-law lost his fight 6 months ago and the world lost a great deal of its sparkle. By living with a generous heart and giving what I can, whenever I can, I’m trying to bring that sparkle back.
Today, as I sat in that chair, I honored a man who quietly went about making the world a better place. A man with a wicked sense of humor and a mischievous spirit. A man who called me his daughter and who would have (and often did) moved mountains for me. A man whose heart was so generous and bottomless that he gave unhesitatingly until the day he died.
Today, I ask you to please perform a random act of kindness, in honor of him. Make someone smile. Help add some sparkle to the world.Then write to me about it, so we can all celebrate the act of giving, the joy of generosity and the fact that, despite hideous things like Cancer, the world is a joyful place.