As most married couples do, Chad and I had spoken about what we wanted for ourselves when we died.
We, of course, thought that these ideas wouldn’t need to be implemented for at least another 35 years.
We had said things like…
“just throw me into the woods after I die”
“I just saw a Facebook post about being planted as a tree after death…I want that!”
“we live next to a cemetery, just throw me into a grave that’s just been dug for someone else, saves money.”
But, we had seriously talked and there was a plan…cremation, no open-casket visitation.
Now, going to a funeral home to talk to a guy about your now deceased husband is totally freaky.
I was escorted into a room full of coffin models, just a corner piece of the different types of coffins you could chose from, jutted out of the walls.
But, I wouldn’t be needing a coffin.
Chad had wanted to be cremated, so I picked out a nice simple brown urn that didn’t cost too much.
He would be angry if I spent a lot of money on an urn.
He hated spending money on himself.
My mom has told us for years that there are burial plots already bought for us in the family cemetery.
I had talked with the girls in the days following his death and we all decided that dad would be coming home with us.
The cemetery where the family plots are located is right next to our house. That was too much for the girls to contend with.
So, Chad is in the brown (not too expensive) urn that I picked up in a little tote bag a few days after I first met with the funeral home guy.
He’s sitting atop a small shelf unit next to our fireplace and a small Barbie (or Ken?) hat is situated squarely on top.
A black fedora.
Chad has a black fedora in the bedroom closet. It seems fitting.
Before I picked up the urn, Chad had one more trip to make before he came home forever.
Another thing he and I had always talked about was that we would like to be organ donors when we died.
The day that Chad’s heart stopped beating forever I found myself sitting in a private waiting room at the hospital with my kids and parents, staring absentmindedly at a drink cart full of soda, water, and hot coffee.
I think it was my mom who mentioned “wasn’t Chad an organ donor?”
Yes he was.
“we want to donate his organs” came from my lips when the coroner stepped into the waiting room with the drink cart.
He explained to us that if we did organ donation, we wouldn’t be able to do an autopsy.
I thought about it for a moment and only for a moment.
I realized that an autopsy wouldn’t matter.
He was dead and did I really need to know with 100% certainty WHY he died?
I knew that donation would be what Chad would have wanted.
What I wanted.
What was necessary.
Chad was a helper.
He would want his body to be able to help someone else if he couldn’t use it anymore.
Unbeknownst to me, his large organs were no longer viable.
It all makes sense…he wasn’t on life support.
He had, by that time, been dead for 45 minutes or so.
He wouldn’t be able to donate large parts of himself.
But, he could donate his bones, tissues and skin, blood vessels.
So, that was the plan.
His body was sent right away to Springfield, Il where the local Gift Of Hope office is located.
The Gift of Hope officials would do what was needed to honor Chad’s wishes to be a donor and then his body would be transported back to the funeral home.
He was able to donate a lot more than I thought he would.
And he will be able to help many people.
I don’t need to know who those people are.
Some will have cancer.
Some will be in horrific accidents…burned or missing limbs.
Our own daughter had had cancer.
While she didn’t need anything from a donor other than blood and platelet transfusions, knowing that someone had donated those things helped her to live another day.
So, Chad will live another day.
Inside someone else.
Because he was a helper…