I walked into the autopsy suite, trembling and drenched in sweat even though the atmospheric temperature was as cool as it could ever be. It was my first autopsy session as a Pathology Resident Physician and I could not exactly make out how I was feeling. But, one thing I knew for sure was that I was very uncomfortable.
Not uncomfortable because of the responsibility to find out why the person I was going to meet had died, but uncomfortable because of the fact that I did not know exactly what to expect. My stomach turned and churned. I could feel my heart thumping in my chest. By no means was that going to be the first autopsy I would be involved with because I had participated in several sessions as part of my medical education and training. But the difference was that, rather than being a passive onlooker as a medical student, I would become active with the process as a resident. It was part of the duties of a pathology resident in training. “What would we find?”
I listened attentively as the senior resident (in the presence of the Attending Pathologist) walked me through the process of performing an autopsy and what our duties as pathologists was supposed to be. I tried to listen attentively as my senior colleague who was obviously more familiar with the process gave me a detailed lecture. I felt my mind wandering away, even though it seemed as though I was paying attention to everything he was saying. My attention drifted back and forth as I couldn’t help thinking about so many other things including the complexities surrounding life. “What is this life even worth?”, I inwardly asked myself.
She was a middle-aged lady and had looked so peaceful like she was sleeping. I tried very hard to focus on the professional and educational aspect of the session, but I couldn’t help also thinking about the emotional and eternal weight of the situation. She was gone and gone forever, leaving a family which loved her very much to mourn her demise. The realization that every one of us would eventually go back to our Creator was a humbling experience for me.
Learning to value the time we spend with our loved ones, with the knowledge that we will never be here forever has been truly remarkable. Following that session, the questions that continued to plague my mind were “what do you want to be remembered for when you are gone?”
With all the selfishness, hatred, and bigotry, going on in the world today, I believe that as individuals, it’s time for us to have some sober reflections about our lives.
I cannot find the right answer as to why some people would deliberately want to hurt others. Why would someone go out of their way to make the lives of others bitter or depressing? Why would we deliberately want to do harm to our fellow man? Why do we derive joy from seeing others suffer?
Life itself is vanity. Everything we see around us today will drift and ebb away like they never existed, and that includes the breath that we all breath- our lives. In this world, we are all visitors and once our time on earth is done, we would all leave and go back to the One who has created us. And then, we would have to give account for all our deeds here on earth.
My training, as a physician-pathologist has further reinforced for me the sanctity of this life. The true value of our lives depends on the impact we are able to make on our fellow human beings. How are we making the world a better place? Are we making it sweeter to live in or more bitter for others?
We can all make this world a more comfortable place for us and others to live in and it begins by valuing the gift of the life that we have. It also involves valuing the lives of others and living out our best lives for the good of our fellow man. Hatred, divisiveness, and bigotry does no one any good. By allowing these vices a place in our hearts only gradually eats away the very essence of our lives. Our lives are worth nothing if we can not positively make a difference in the life of just one person. For emphasis sake: ONE PERSON.
From a smile to helping others in need (physical, emotional, social, spiritual or otherwise), to asking about the welfare of others, to churning hatred and embracing peace and love, we can all make a difference in the life of just that ONE person, if we choose to. Yes, it’s a matter of choices.
For me, I have learned to place more value on my life and the lives of my fellow man, and that includes my family, neighbors, and the community at large. With my knowledge, skills, education, training, and God’s merciful grace, I strive to do all that is within my resources to make this world a better place for others to live in. I keep working to make a positive impact on the lives of the many ONE PERSONS I encounter every day. That to me is the true value of life. And that is what I would like to be remembered for; the highest cause for which I live.
Love and Peace,