The Gift of Life

Frankfort Michigan as seen from the Wisconsin side of Lake Michigan

Today marks four weeks since my sister, Dorothy, was killed in a car accident. In those four weeks, two patients who’d been waiting for corneas can now see. A set of families who needed bone transplants for their son/daughter/mother/father now have them. And more. Much more.

Oddly, so oddly — and thankfully — good can come from bad.

They call it the “Gift of Life,” and truly, it is.


So, says you, how am I doing?

Been better, thank you. I haven’t written anything because — given the events of the last three weeks — my thoughts and focus have been elsewhere.

The vast and wonderful majority of friends, acquaintances and even strangers have been incredibly kind, supportive and understanding while our family has muddled through the shock and horror of my sister’s death.


I have a bone to pick.

For a tiny minority, my family’s double tragedies — my sister’s death in a car accident this month and my father’s death a few years ago in an unrelated yet equally horrific car accident — have been an opportunity to make crass, rude, and astoundingly inappropriate remarks.

Am I mistaken in finding this outrageous?

I think not. But – to be fair – I’ll give you, Oh Best Beloved, a sampler, a select handful of these comments. And then you decide.

  1. “Wasn’t your dad 83? Old farts shouldn’t be on the road anyways – no wonder he got killed.”

    Why, thank you, you who never even met my father, for characterizing an intelligent, astute, sharp, physically active and just dead parent as an ‘old fart’ – and then blaming him for dying in a car accident.

  2. Your sister must have been a bad driver.

    Here’s an exercise for you to try so we can compare your driving skills to hers: develop a blood clot that whaps through your heart while driving into a curve on a two-lane country highway at 55 mph, with an oncoming semi a mere few feet from your vehicle. Bonus points if you can manage, like she did, to only sideswipe the truck instead of hitting it head-on.

  3. I saw your parents’ accident on TV! Did you get to see it? You should get a tape!

    No, I did not see it, as I ripped the TV’s plug out of the wall socket when it came on as ‘breaking news.’ I don’t think I, or anyone else, should have graphic coverage of tragedies shoved into our faces as ‘news-ertainment’ – and yes, I felt that way long before this happened to us.

  4. Wow, it cost that much for the emergency helicopter that flew your mom to the trauma center after your parents’ accident? Thanks a lot – now I know why my insurance rates keep going up! And wasn’t she old, anyways?

    Personally, I thought the price charged was a bargain when compared to the cost of my mother, too, losing her life. You are welcome to seek out and purchase an insurance policy that doesn’t include coverage for trauma care, if you’d like to lower your rates. Me – I’ll campaign for heath care reform based on the factors that are really driving costs. Oh – and when did age become a proxy for determining the worth of a human life?

So – Oh Best Beloved – there’s your sampler.

What do you think: Outrageous? Or acceptable?

I know where I stand.

Where There Is Despair… Hope

I want to pass along my deepest thanks to everyone from myself, and from my entire family. Your support and prayers have meant so much to us as we’ve struggled through this first week following my sister’s death in an automobile accident.

When two of my friends, Kris and Michele, asked me a few days ago how I’ve been doing, I told them that I thought I was managing reasonably well — until I opened the refrigerator door, and saw my address book sitting on the top shelf inside, shivering miserably. Another hour passed before it even dawned on me that if the address book was in the fridge… where had I put the cottage cheese?

It hurts to laugh, but my sister would have found that uproarious, especially since I am known for remembering exactly where I left items, regardless of when and where I put them down.

Someday, I’m sure, we’ll be together again, laughing at our foibles.

I just wish she hadn’t been called ahead so soon.

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

—– St. Francis of Assisi