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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: In 1989, my nephew Bryan and his fiancee were killed in an automobile accident. He was only 21 years old. My brother-in-law and sister were faced with that dreaded question, "Is your son an organ donor?" In fact, he was, and had discussed his wishes with his parents some time before the accident. As a result of Bryan's unselfishness, several people's pain was ended and their bodies were mended.

A couple of years later, my sister was asked by a nurse who worked in transplant services to speak to a group of medical professionals who deal with organ donation and donor families. She was told that they never had a problem getting a recipient to come and tell the story from that point of view, but it was rare to find a donor mom or dad who would discuss how being approached for donation had affected their lives and what it meant to them.

Those people wanted to know how she felt about what took place in that drab little room off to the side of the emergency room on the night her son died. They knew they would be faced with asking that question again and again, and wanted to know if she could give them a word of encouragement or correction to make them better equipped to help the next family. How could she refuse?

In the days to follow she wrestled with the thought of standing in front of a group of strangers and pouring out the horrible story. She decided she needed to jot down something that could be read for her in case she fell apart. In the space of an hour, the enclosed poem is what God's grace allowed her to express. Perhaps you will feel it's worth sharing with your readers. -- RON BELSHE, RICHARDSON, TEXAS

DEAR RON: I offer my condolences for the tragedy that took your nephew and his fiancee. Your sister's poem is certainly worthy of space in this column. Read on:


by Becky Hanson

If you can swallow hard enough to push away the fear,

And say yes to the question that no one wants to hear,

Then you will add a ray of hope when there's nothing left but crying,

And become the "gentle link" between the living and the dying.

I believe that you'll find comfort though your heart has been laid raw,

In offering hope to someone else who prays and waits in awe.

Until it's done, you can't know how or whom your words will bless,

But hundreds more will find new life if you will answer "yes."

DEAR ABBY: The letter from "Still Laughing in Dallas," regarding the whistle and the obscene telephone calls, reminded me of my own experience.

My husband was on active duty and was often away from home. During those periods I would receive phone calls on an irregular basis. It seemed that this person would wait until about 10 minutes after I had gone to bed, then call and not say anything. It did not matter what time I went to bed.

The only thing the police suggested was to change my phone number or keep a whistle handy. I decided that the whistle would wake my children and might push the caller into something more aggressive. Finally, one evening I had enough. I told the caller that if he would just speak to me, we could have a wonderful conversation. Did he know what it was like to be cooped up with two kids under the age of 4 for days on end without another adult to converse with? Changing diapers, cleaning up smeared food all over the table and chairs? I kept talking about the children and then I heard a "click." Never another phone call.

Abby, I BORED the person into leaving me alone. -- FRANKLY BORING IN FOLSOM, CALIF.

DEAR FRANKLY: You may consider yourself "frankly boring," but I consider you to be a frankly intelligent woman who solved a difficult problem with a dose of reality. Thank you for an interesting letter.

To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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