Dalai’s Note: My daughter, “Dolly,” is a first-year medical student. She wrote the following passage as an assignment for her Ethics class. Clearly, she has a great deal more insight and understanding of what she is doing than most at her stage or beyond.
The sheath of plastic is a small barrier between the living and the dead.
Inconsequential compared to the caskets normally selected for those
Whose bodies have failed them.
Death is usually sequestered away,
In pretty patches of manicured grass
With carefully crafted stones and meticulously placed flowers
In artificial vases adjacent to their recipients.
Flowers seem incongruous in metal containers,
Like people in metal boxes, in metal tanks.
A strange tribute to a life once lived in chaos, in freedom, with complexity and complications.
The blade is new and harsh, anxious like the hand that holds it.
Unsure of what it will find in the first dive into this time capsule.
Almost nine decades, near a century, a vestige of a former time.
When voting was new for her gender,
The Civil Rights Movement merely a dream.
How interesting that now three women now stand over her,
Their skin tones blending with hers as they bridge the gaps between them.
Her greatest secrets are yet to come,
The mysteries that she revealed to no one are ours to find.
The most intimate details of her life and death,
The inner workings of her heart and mind.
She has sacrificed a peaceful sleep
For months of bright lights, probing and investigation
More invasive than the most driven reporter.
And thus begins the most intimate of interviews,
One woman’s life, death, and the vessel which bridges them.