This I Believe

Jennifer - Honolulu, Hawaii
Entered on April 20, 2007

I believe in recycling my earthly spacesuit. I was born and raised in England but have lived in the United States since the mid-seventies. During my late teens I became a blood donor. I started donating because the law firm I worked for in England allowed their employees to do so during work hours, giving donors a free tea and biscuit break.

I’m not particularly proud of the reason I started donating, but I am proud to say I’m still doing so 40 years later and encourage others to join me. These days, I’m an Apheresis donor, which means my blood goes through a centrifuge where the platelets are extracted and then my blood is returned to me. Strange as it may sound, I really enjoy my bi-weekly visits to our local blood bank. We’re a happy group.

I should explain the spacesuit reference. My father died from a long and horrific battle with lung cancer in the early 1980s. During the funeral, our local vicar told us not to mourn the body in the coffin. He used the analogy that it was simply an earthly spacesuit which God provided to allow my father’s delightful spirit to temporarily spend time on earth before returning home; much the same way astronauts require spacesuits on their explorations.

Several months later, back in the United States, I attended a bone-marrow drive which was being held in our local shopping mall, organized by the family and friends of a local child in desperate need of a compatible donor. I was tested but wasn’t a compatible donor; however, I remain on the registry to this day. During the enrollment process, I was also asked if I would be willing to register as an organ donor. I heard the words “earthly spacesuit” from my father’s funeral as clearly as if they were being spoken again by someone standing next to me. I agreed and now have the designation on my driver’s license.

If possible, after my death, I also wish my body to be donated to science. I know many people think it’s morbid to talk about such things but my approach to the subject isn’t morbid at all, just realistic. There’s no arguing the fact that we’re all going to die and, once that happens, why in the world hang onto the empty old outer shell that’s left? If someone else can make use of it in some way or another, whether it’s for spare parts or as an instructional tool, please, be my guest. It’s served me well (and I hope it will continue to do so for many more years). I’d much rather recycle my spacesuit, than have it burned or buried.