As I look toward Valentine’s Day this year, and to the days leading up to it which remind me of haunting sadness and terrible trauma from last year, one question keeps coming to mind: What am I going to do? Tradition has always been very important to me, just as it was for my family, for Eric’s family and for the two of us as we began to develop traditions in our own family.
On our first Valentine’s Day as a couple, Eric and I decided to have a date night in my college dorm room with a homemade meal, shrimp appetizers, and a movie. At that point in time, it would have been an understatement to say that I “hated” cooking. I really did and I wasn’t great at it. I mean, I’ve been known to set a 1-foot high fire in a frying pan of bacon ashes. I’ve messed up boxed macaroni and cheese. But it was a romantic idea, so I tried it. Luckily, Spaghetti is both elegant and relatively easy to make. It wasn’t even too cold when I plated it. Eric was gracious and smiled over the top of the lovely roses he had bought for me. After dinner we exchanged gifts. Without telling each other, we’d each purchased the same movie to give. That movie? P.S. I Love You, starring Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler. Yes. We actually gave each other that movie. No, I haven’t gotten up the courage to watch it again. Needless to say, we watched it together that night and ate the delicious shrimp which he prepared.
4 years ago, in addition to our dinner, shrimp, and a movie tradition, I decided to make a blood donation on Valentine’s Day. I had been giving blood for years but researching the facts about it for a design project excited my passion for donating. According to the American Red Cross, 1 person in the U.S. needs blood every 2 seconds. Each year, approximately 4.5 million Americans will need blood transfusions. This life source cannot be created by any synthetic process and it can’t remain in storage very long. In order for people to receive the blood that they need, people have to give of themselves. Because of all this, donating blood is almost always a good idea if you qualify. All blood types are needed. I personally have another compelling reason to donate: my blood type is O Negative. This rare blood type can be given to anyone with any blood type, which makes me a universal donor. O Negative is typically the blood type they give to people in emergency situations and to newborn babies. The very thing that flows through my veins, this gift that I have, is an undeniable blessing that I can share… and what better day to give life than on a holiday to celebrate love?
Eric listed himself as an organ donor. Because of his heart medications, Eric wasn’t able to donate blood with me. He did, however, cheer me on heartily, and helped me in whatever way he could to make sure I had opportunities to donate. He often told me that he appreciated blood donation because giving this vital thing to a person might give them more time to live, and that would be more time for them to hear about Jesus.
When Eric was in the hospital from February 11-14, 2016, his body received a lot of O Negative blood. He was losing so much blood internally, and he needed countless blood transfusions in order for his organs to continue to work. In the end, God had bigger plans, but I am forever thankful to the people whose blood kept my Eric alive long enough for us to say goodbye.
That is why I have decided that this year, to honor Eric, I am going to donate blood.
On the anniversary of Eric’s death, I’m choosing to do what I can to help others have life, and in doing so, I am honoring my Eric. I’m praising God for the gift that he has given me in my blood. This gift of love directly from my person could give someone else the chance to continue living. If it is God’s will, the blood that I donate next week may be used to extend the life of someone else’s husband, someone else’s daddy, someone else’s son or brother or friend.
When I donate, I will tell everyone I can that I’m donating in honor of my husband, who loved people, loved Jesus, and loved sharing Jesus with people. If my blood can extend someone’s life, I pray that His words through me can affect someone’s eternity.
I would like to invite you to join me from wherever you are in honoring Eric with a blood donation. Not only will you be honoring him by doing what you can to help others, you will be honoring me as well.
Here are a few things I’ve learned about donating blood:
- Donating blood is life-giving.
- Donating blood is easy to do and doesn’t take long.
- I can donate at several locations. The American Red Cross hosts blood drives all the time. There isn‘t a drive on the specific day that I want to donate so I found a local blood donation center (by googling) and will be able to walk in with my family during business hours on that day.
- Donating blood is not any more painful or uncomfortable for most people than shots.
- Usually, when I donate blood, I get a sticker.
- I created a poster about this! Please ask me first if you’d like to share or print my blood donation poster.
If you donate blood in honor of Eric this weekend, next week, or this month, I’d love to hear about it. Bonus points if you take a selfie with your sticker and tag it with #DonateForEric