I was a little nervous when we went down into the cadaver lab. I’ve seen dead people before, of course—I’ve been to funerals, and I’ve seen bodies on TV. It’s just that at funerals they aren’t naked with their parts on the table, and on TV there’s a screen—even so, bodies are also liable to get dismembered or turned into zombies or something horrible like that.
But, as I learned… It was okay. Looking back, I’d actually say visiting a cadaver lab was one of the best field trips I’ve ever gone on. Getting to hold all of the organs and see how organs look in a real human body was kind of amazing. A textbook is a great way to learn, but I’ve got to say… nothing beats holding a human heart in your hands.
That’s not to say that sometimes experiencing the dissection wasn’t a little disgusting sometimes, but I got used to it. I really appreciated that our teacher would always warn us before doing something. She’d say something like, “Okay, now I’m going to turn her leg upside down and inside out,” and that was a good enough cue to prepare me for what came next.
We passed around the brain, a kidney, the heart, lungs, tongue, stomach, bladder, entire arm, of the woman—more, even. I got to touch and examine.
Man, I love to touch and examine. If you have drawers or cabinets, I will open the drawers or cabinets. That’s just a rule.
I got to open the human body. It’s interesting, because we often associate life with goodness, and death with badness—but that isn’t the feeling I got from the cadaver lab. This woman was in her 90’s when she died. It sounded like she had lived a pretty decent life before. She had a family. She had a name. And when her time was done, she gave her body to us to explore.
Against all odds, it turns out death is a beautiful thing as well.
Although, I have to say—during our halftime break, a little melody came over the intercom. Our teacher said they play that every time a baby is born inside the hospital.
Death can be beautiful, but there’s still something to be said about being born, too. Go figure.