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The Hardest Conversations

Hours after Justice died…

“Angie, you need to answer your phone; the organ donation company is calling, time is crucial, you need to decide if you will donate Justice's body.” My girlfriend Jamie had to say this to me hours after discovering that Justice had died. Surprisingly, this was not a hard decision to make. It was just the most heartbreaking. A decision no parent should ever have to endure, but sadly, losing a child is not that uncommon. Parents have to make this decision more than you would ever think.

Darren and I knew what we needed to do because we have had hard conversations with our family many times about our final wishes. Death was a topic we were comfortable discussing. Having hard, deep, meaningful conversations with my children, I felt, was necessary. My dad was killed in an accident when I was 23 years old, and we didn't have a lot of these conversations. So his final wishes were more of a guessing game with my grief-stricken loved ones who struggled to make any decisions but had to.

Many of our family's serious discussions didn't seem serious at the time. We were either driving a long distance in the car or sitting at the dining table. I am not a person that likes to talk about the weather, well, I guess that is not true. I am married to a farmer; the weather controls our lives. But honestly, I like my conversations to be soul-searching. I want them to be profound, raw, and meaningful. I have always loved the way my kids’ minds work. Our family debates would range in all topics, from the everlasting discussion about water being wet, or is it? Then deeper conversations about world peace, abortion, politics, the border wall, I always wanted to know why? Why do you feel this way? I have been amazed by how my kids think, their passions for life, their empathy for others, and what makes them tick.

So Justice let us know what her wishes were years before she passed. Although, sometimes, she would say the goofiest things about her final wishes. The most extravagant involved a little wooden boat on the ocean and flaming arrows, which didn't happen. 

We had donated Justice's body to research, tissue, and eye donation. We also had Justice cremated. This way, we were able to give Justice's ashes to her loved ones. You see, if Justice were able to choose a superpower, it would be to be everywhere at once. So now a part of her can be with so many people who loved her. 

Death is not an easy conversation. Final wishes are not easy to discuss either, which is crazy because death is our only guarantee in life. So, have the hard conversations. Dig deep with your family and loved ones, let them know what is important to you. If being an organ donor is your final wish, don't just put it on your driver's license. Talk about it. Let your family know your wishes and the reasons behind them.

These conversations are not always easy, but neither is losing a loved one and not knowing the answers. I will forever be grateful for my soul-searching conversations with my family. I hope this inspires you to open up to talk about life, death, love, and your dreams. It is so much more interesting than bitching about the weather.

Consider your last act of kindness on earth by being a hero for a person still living and needing your organ. Donate life.

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