Better planning on my part would have prevented the untimely arrival of my long awaited dream car in the very same month that my daughter received her learner’s permit. While I mistakenly assumed the new car belonged to me, I should have noticed the tiny Cadillac reflections in my child’s eyes. My heart sank and her excitement grew, thus tugging at opposite ends of the wellness spectrum. No one had explained to me that the arrival of her license to drive meant the end of my place in the heated seat behind the wheel. Without fanfare, the pecking order changed and suddenly I was on the wrong side of the ATM and unable to catch a full view of the drive-up menu ever again.
After weeks of driving down unknown roads and failed attempts at parking between the lines at the Sonic Drive-In, my child had quenched her thirst for grape Slurpees and gained the skills needed for safe driving. She had learned that the rear view mirror was not placed in the car for her to watch herself drive. She learned that turning the wrong way on a one-way street will cause immediate screaming from all passengers and someone in the backseat will capture it on film and place it on social media for all to see. She had become a good driver and had rightfully earned the paperwork entitling her to a driver’s permit.
As she smiled for the camera, excited about her license, the agent asked her, “Do you want to be an organ donor?” Time stopped. We were not prepared for this question. While organ donation saves lives, I could foresee the 2:00 a.m. cry from my child’s bedroom, “I gave away my liver!” Unable to change her answer from yes to no at 2:00 a.m., a few layers of plastic laminate would prevent me from stopping the oncoming panic attack that was headed our way, just like the cars on the one-way street.
I chose to postpone any personal commitment to organ donation until we could sit down and talk about it at length. In the past, I had reserved such important talks for those times my child was trapped in the passenger seat and we were driving down the road at 70 miles per hour, thus making her a captive audience. She had learned the truth of Santa, Sex and the Easter Bunny all while I clutched the wheel of a moving vehicle, unable to make direct eye contact with her. No longer able to hide behind the wheel of my car, I realized future talks of life will be given from the passenger side of my daughter’s new ride.
Organ donation is a head spinner at that age, acknowledging the possibility of untimely death. Perhaps it's more accessible when presented as the opportunity to be a superhero, saving another's life, giving sight to the blind, health to a child who suffers or fulfilling the dreams of strangers never met. Who wouldn't want to wear that T-shirt with the big "D" on the front while climbing the stairway to heaven?
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