Tuesday, December 27, 2011

When Lives Intertwine

Hey, thanks.
I have cadaver hamstring in my knee—an allograft. At first, I was really opposed to this idea because the thought of it kind of freaked me out. But at a later doctor appointment, my doctor explained the risk of using an allograft, which is much less than if I were to use an autograft—my own hamstring for my surgery. So, I began to try and settle with the thought.

As a journalist, I believe that everyone has a story, and I often wonder what a person's story is. I began to wonder who this person was and why they donated their body to science. How did they live their life? What did they love? What did they hate? Who cried when they passed on? I won't know the truth in this life. And I have to live with the thought of having another's body part in my knee, so I granted myself a little creative license in coming up with a story about this person (to whom I am grateful). In other words, it's highly romanticized. Consider yourself warned.

I'm not going to give a name to the donor. A name is special. I know that I am fighting Juliet on this one, "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

But people aren't roses.

No, this one was a pilot. At 34 years old he had traveled the world. He watched the ball drop in Times Square and smelt the salty ocean as he gazed at the Golden Gate Bridge. He photographed the ancient Egyptian pyramids and marveled at the beauty of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. He walked on the Great Wall of China and roughed African safaris.

Having seen much of the world, he knew the state of the people, and he was determined to leave his mark on it.

Though he knew more of the world than most people, he still had dreams and desires. He was a great writer. Though often unsafe in his travels, he was most vulnerable when he put pen to paper. Writing set him free from this world. It was how he organized his thoughts on the beauties of life and the disappointments and hypocrisies of society. He was working on writing the great American novel—his transcripts to now forever remain unfinished and unpublished. 

He was engaged to be married to a beautiful, young elementary school teacher. This woman was strong physically, mentally, and emotionally. She had to be—especially when she lost him, her first love. This woman was everything to this young man. She was the first thought he had in the morning and the last before falling asleep. He wanted to create a safe world for her to continue to thrive in, and hopefully an environment that would be ideal for their children to come. And she was just as selfless as he was and desired to always make him feel welcome when he returned home.

She was by his side when he passed. The young man's family was there too. You can probably guess what kind of family this young man came from. He was raised to be a man in a world of cowards. When this young man was a little boy and was faced with the opportunity to tell the truth, his father taught him courage. When this young man was a pre teen, his older brother taught him about loyalty when the boy had a brush with a not-so-good group of "friends." When this young man was a teenager, his mother taught him to remain virtuous when faced with the dilemmas of growing up. When this young man became an adult and left home for the first time, his younger sister told him that to remain happy, he must remember to be grateful for everything he was and everything he had.

This young man left the world more courageous, more loyal, more virtuous, and more happy than some who is blessed with growing old. It was his decision to continue blessing people after he passed. He donated his body to help others in their time of need. A lifetime of good came down to one last act of good, and that one last act of good continues to bless the lives of strangers.

Strangers that hopefully will remember the state they were in before they received medical help. Strangers that hopefully will make a full recovery. And strangers that hopefully will always strive to make a positive impact on the world.


(*In case you didn't catch it, I wanted to clarify that this is a fiction story, but let's just say it's real, OK?)