We named her Alice. She was seventy-four years old and 119 pounds at the time of her death. We did not know how she died. We did not have her story, only the story of her life written in her body.
Dear Alice, You looked as if you had kind eyes, as if you were a kind person. I really have no way of knowing that, but I know that you donated your body for people like me to learn. You gave the gift of your very flesh and its history—the most literally visceral part of your story for some of us to actually touch with our bodies. This seeing and touching of the no longer living human form is something that very few people have the opportunity (or even the desire) to do. Yet I feel connected to you and not because I held your bodily tissues in my hands. I feel connected to you in a way that I cannot even articulate, though I am trying to do so here on this page.
I want to thank you for your gift you gave. I want to thank you for penetrating my own defenses, for cutting into me though you were not the one to wield the scalpel. I held the scalpel; you pierced me. Your body moved its way into my nose, hands and my imagination. It slipped and seeped into my heart, and I will never be the same. You gave all of us such an immeasurable gift. The gift of our own insight.Read More