Monday, September 2, 2013


Check another item off the list. This one was fast, easy, and free. And it will probably have a positive impact on other people's lives.

What the heck took me so long to become an organ donor?

I remember seeing the box on the form when I first got my driver's license in Massachusetts back in 1999. I wasn't 18 yet, so I wasn't able to sign up at that time. By the time I turned 18, I was away at college. I kept that Massachusetts license all through college in Connecticut, and my two years wandering the southeast US in AmeriCorps, and through my two years of grad school here in DC. It wasn't until I had finished school and decided to stay in Washington that I finally needed a new license. I'm quite sure I meant to become an organ donor at that point, but somehow missed the box to check on the form. Perhaps I was too busy correcting DMV staff when they put my information and some other girl's photo on an ID. Whatever the excuse or the reason, it didn't happen then either.

So here I am, twelve years after I legally took control over, well, myself, and I'm finally a registered organ donor. It took me all of three minutes to do it online. The most difficult part (after searching the apartment for my wallet so I could enter my driver's license number) was reading through the list of body parts and choosing what items will be off-limits. And that's when it became clear why this is scary, and why I've put it off for so long. All of a sudden I was sitting there thinking about my family mourning my death. And then I re-read that list of body parts, and although I know someone could benefit from my skin or eyes, I elected not to donate those. I want to know that my loved ones will be able to look at me one last time and be comforted by my familiar appearance. It feels a little selfish, but in the context of the grander gesture I was making, I'm okay with that.

Of course, I like to think the decisions I made today won't come into play for many, many years to come. But that day will come eventually. Facing one's mortality is quite possibly the scariest thing of all.

I am trying to live a life that has an impact, do some good before my time is done. How lucky I am to live in a time when, with a few clicks and keystrokes, I can assure that in my death I will do the same.

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