About a year ago, I was slogging through gross anatomy. My long-time followers (hello, Parents! *wave* ) will recall that I mostly did not love cadaver lab. I valued it. I learned from it. I appreciated it. But I found it really emotionally challenging, much more so than I expected to. I didn’t mind being around dead bodies, but I very much minded tearing them apart.
I was thinking the other day, though, about a moment that I don’t recall sharing with anybody. It’s one of the things from last year that pops into my head from time to time and makes me smile.
Towards the end of the year we finished up with dissection of the extremeties, and I actually enjoyed hand and arm dissection a lot. Hands are really lovely little machines, and I found them to be beautiful beneath the skin. I mostly avoided being in the lab by myself — it just didn’t seem healthy! — but I’m an early riser and I needed to get some studying in at one point when nobody else was there. I was working on my cadaver’s forearm, and I found myself holding her still-intact hand to steady her arm. It was cold, of course, but I realized nonetheless that I was holding a person’s hand.
I stopped for a second and looked at her hand in mine, and thought about everything that she must have done with that hand. The lovers she had touched, the babies she had held, the meals she had prepared, the flowers she had picked, the tears she had wiped from her face…and I realized that I was the last person who would get to hold her hand. And I smiled, and I cried.
Shortly thereafter, I dissected that hand. Not long after that, we finished learning from her, and she was cremated. But before those things happened, I held her hand. I wish I could tell the last person who held it while she was alive that I appreciated her.