When I was growing up, my mother stayed home to raise my brothers and me. That meant we had to tag along on every trip to the grocery store or trivial errand she had meticulously planned for the day. She had it planned down to the minute of exactly when and where we would be to accomplish a certain task. Sure enough, every 56 days – my brothers and I would sit through the most tortuous hour in her schedule as my mom gave blood. It’s what we did every 56 days. And every 56 days on the way to whichever donation site it was, my mother would lecture me on the importance of what she was about to do. It was these lectures and the tortuous trips during my childhood that founded my belief. That giving blood is one of the most powerful things one human being can do for another.
My mother has donated well over 20 gallons of blood in her lifetime and got me into the routine days after my seventeenth birthday when I became eligible. During those car ride lectures my mom would tell me that we couldn’t put a price on the hour we were about to spend. My mom started regularly giving when my cousin Ashley was diagnosed with leukemia in 1989. Ashley is completely cured now and the years when she was sick are hardly even mentioned anymore in my family. But every time I go to give I’m reminded of how Ashley owes her life to blood transfusions.
Blood donations not only changed her life, but mine, and the lives of everyone who cares for her. There is an enormous network then of people who have been saved by blood donations. That is fascinating to me. And even more fascinating to me is that we all have the same blood running through our veins, which we can all share. A network, of sorts, that can save lives. In literature or even in everyday conversation blood is usually co-notated with passion and life. Blood is a substance of life that we all have in common. A connecting factor that ties us together, and is exchangeable, and I believe it gives us an obligation to help each other out. I believe that sharing your “substance of life” with another human being is beautiful, and should be just as natural. As natural as my mother’s 56-day trips were to me when I was young.
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