with equal parts compassion & hilarity

I Still Think About The Bodies

When I used to visit Jackson Hall a few hours a week, I didn’t know much about the anatomy or physiology of bodies. Hell, I still don’t. I changed my major after I received my grade in the class — it turns out you can only apply to physical therapy school with one C, not three.

But, I still think about the bodies.

About what I learned, or was expected to learn, from them. The professor taught us about the veins and arteries of the heart, how to navigate the intestines and a trick to remember the bones in our hands.

Some Lovers Try Positions That They Can’t Handle = Scaphoid, Lunate, Triquetrum, Pisiform, Trapezium, Trapezoid, Capitate, Hamate.

It was easy to become lost in the science and technicality of learning from the bodies. It was easy to be overtaken by the minute details and Latin inspired terminology. It was easy right up until the professor pointed out an inexplicable process the body carries out.

“The body does this and we have no idea how or why. It just does it.”

Abruptly, I would be jolted from the science. I realized the bodies I was learning from were so much more than a mere supplement to my textbook. These bodies were people with more to their story than the science chapter I was learning, which, as it turned out, failed to provide complete explanations. It actually made perfect sense to me that the professor couldn’t explain our bodies because I believe our bodies were wonderfully and fearfully created by a God we can never fully understand or explain as humans.

I wondered what belief system the bodies had ascribed to and where their souls were now. What else about these bodies had I been failing to realize?

Sometimes, I made up stories for them. I owed the bodies that much, at least. I was taking and taking from their beautiful bodies. I wanted to not forget that they were once breathing and loving beings.

Here is grandma. She birthed six beautiful babies who were each baptized at St. Mary’s. Her husband died in a war overseas leaving her to raise the children on her own. We can see she had a hip replacement and a knee replacement because she was constantly playing with her children, challenging them to run, hike and see the world. She used her body well; to live and love. Over time though, her body could not sustain the use.

There is an old man who finished his last years mostly lonely. Only the frizzy haired woman who owned the flower shop down the block offered him a sincere, consistent friendship. He volunteered for the anatomy bequest program because he felt it might give him greater purpose. Eventually, his body could not sustain the use or the loneliness either.

I think about how I might one day be lying face up on a silver dissection table with wheels. A silent cadaver, waiting to teach. What will my body say? Will my bone density tell of my athleticism? Will my eyes speak of poor vision? Will my heart have stints because it needed a little extra help to keep on loving? Will my fat make it difficult to sort through my small and large intestines?

When I think about those bodies in Jackson Hall, it makes me think about how I could be a body in Jackson Hall one day too. What stories will the student who actually doesn’t really want to be a physical therapist make up about my body? What words will I inspire when the students think about my body?

Featured image courtesy of Prexel.

This piece was originally written in response to prompt #18 by Death To Stock on Medium (both of which I have recently concluded that I love).

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