Over at The Huffington Post I've written an essay about an experience in an anatomy lab a few weeks ago, and how seeing so much death gave me pause to think about life:
This was by far my most vivid experience with death and the fragile human body. Never before had I been so close to a dead body unadorned with embalming fluids and inches of makeup, much less buckets of lifeless organs. It's difficult not to be crass, but everything I saw vulgarly resembled animal meat, from the dry skin that had a leathery look and texture, to the brains and lungs that once animated human beings but now resembled something you wouldn't ever purchase from the butcher.
A couple months before this visit to the lab, my grandmother had been diagnosed with an aggressive but treatable form of lung cancer. I was devastated when I heard the news, but optimistic with the reports from doctors. Cancer, the body and medicine were an abstraction to me. But when a cancerous lung was laid on a table in front of me, it was suddenly more concrete.