I must be honest, I was not looking forward to seeing you in the gloomy October day that coincided with my birthday. Despite my eagerness to learn about human illnesses, I was not ready to shatter my ignorance of human mortality and the hearts that give up. I slowly walked the long hallways leading to your current resting place, the Gross Anatomy Laboratory. Then, I saw you covered by an orange body bag, and in the blink of an eye, I became a medical student.
I had a vague understanding of what it meant to be in the business of mending bodies and minds, but I felt the gravity of my role the moment I saw how. I did not have much medical knowledge when I first met you but slowly, you taught me. How lucky I was.
You never hid anything from me as you gave me the opportunity to learn, silently, slowly, totally, so I will not hide the fact that I also sobbed when I faced your human mortality and how I will never get the opportunity to talk with you about your experiences of a lifetime.
As the semester went by and we examined you more closely, I got to see your stories without ever having the chance to talk with you. I saw the marks, the scars and leftovers of surgeries that could have entailed a battle with illnesses, challenges that you withstood and the pain you might have felt during your fruitful years. As the session went on and I became very focused on the biology, I never forgot to see you as the benevolent teacher who allowed me to become knowledgeable and slowly leave behind my childlike feelings on death. Aside from human anatomy, you taught me to see the world in its detail and notice every little mark that could one day save my patients’ lives.
You taught me that even though our lifetime is limited, we can always leave a legacy by helping to change the generations that are left behind. I was finally able to accept the reality of death and perceive life in a more positive light since you showed me even death cannot stop us from still giving more of ourselves each day.
Your forever grateful student,