remembering anatomy lab
where we curious butchers would go,
to plumb the depths of someone
searching for every muscle to name
taking off skin
sawing through bones
braving the formaldehyde
the gruesome reality of death
looking for diagnoses
finding heart attacks, implants, strokes, tattoos, cancers—
it really was fascinating-
… there was a strange excitement
that went along with each discovery
… we’d think about the patient
not for long about how they died,
instead we’d imagine a life,
usually a positive one
and we treated our patients with respect,
though they wouldn't know
… but I wonder when my grandfather’s body
lay in their med school lab
… if they found his sadness…
his loneliness as the final cause of death…
the grief, the shame, the guilt,
that drove the last few years of his life
but also the kindness and the love
and the desire to understand
his ready laugh that was harder to evoke last year
his enchantment with children
his repetitive stories i loved
'I may not always be right
but I'm never wrong'
and how often he walked to get us donuts on Sundays...
underneath the anxiety
that likely damaged his arteries
there was a sincere desire
he wanted his grandchildren
to be well and happy
alongside the resignation and despair
because he did not know how…
I wonder where we find that.
when medical students learn that.
I certainly didn't learn it in lab.
does someone you love have to die
for you to understand death-
losing all my immediate family certainly didn't teach me-
does it require something more?
how do you teach an understanding of life inclusive of death?
making us grateful and present
for the lives we have while we have them
...he loved us so much
...I wish everyone could have known my amazing grandfather