During our memorial services, UB medical, dental and nursing students remember the generous individuals from whom they have spent a semester learning, expressing their deep appreciation for the invaluable knowledge they have gained.
Below are samples of readings that have been presented during our services.
When I sat down to prepare this reading, I really had no idea what I was going to say. So, the first thing I did was write down a list of "facts". Everything that I knew about the man I spent a good portion of this semester hunched over at table #17. He was 48 years old when he passed away (that's 10 years younger than my father)…..cause of death- bacterial endocarditis/cardiomyopathy (so said the sheet of paper pinned to the bulletin board outside the gross lab). We discovered his pacemaker and medaport at the end of the first block. He had a moustache.
Well, those are the "facts" but really they don't say much about our relationship, the cadaver and I. Yes, I say relationship because it is special to me and I will carry it with me for the rest of my life. Our relationship possessed many of the characteristics of any close relationship. And like any relationship you have to take the good with the bad.
We had our share of difficulties. There were times when he could be, quite literally, a pain in the neck. He had a bad habit of hiding things from me…..I never did find the recurrent median nerve and I'm sure he didn't appreciate my carelessness with his pancreas.
But of course the good far outweighed the bad. He was an excellent listener, lord knows I spent a lot of time talking to him and now that we are in block 3 the phrase "lend me your ear" has taken on a whole new meaning. I held his hand (actually, now that I think about it, he was holding mine). He was always there for me and more than once I cried on his shoulder.
He gave us a lot more than simply knowledge regarding the gross anatomy of a human being. He watched over and touched the lives of nine wide-eyed 1st year medical students. And long after we have forgotten the gory details of the brachial plexus we can be sure that we will never forget our experience with him. He will be with us at every patient encounter; every birth we witness, every physical we perform, every illness we treat and every death we ease. Through his generous gift to us he will have touched the lives of hundreds of others as well. They tell me he died of a problem with his heart………I would have to disagree….and if you listen carefully enough you will realize that his heart is doing just fine……you can hear it in all of the medical students who stood at table #17.
Compared to what he gave to us, our gift to him is a modest one. Our utmost respect and a deep thank you from the class of 2002.
I picture you in a lazy boy chair after a long day's work, in a house with dim lighting and a small kitchen. I can see your fingers rest on the arms of the chair, curling over the edges. Sometimes I wonder if you were married, if you held your wife in the night. I wonder if you spoke quietly, if you worked with your hands, if you were happy. I wonder why you gave your body to us? If it was your thanks to the doctors who helped you or your hope for future doctors to be better.
We have looked inside your head, held your heart in our hands, but we do not even know your name. Thank you not only for teaching us the parts of the body, but for teaching us about the soul and what it means to give yourself for the benefit of others. Thank you for showing us that everyone is different inside and out, in life and in death, and that some continue to give for lifetimes to come.
Although I will never know your name, I will see you in every patient I touch and I will forever use the lessons you taught.
Amy E. Puzio