Feb 4, 2009

A Letter To My Silent Mentor

Wrote this just after I came back. Found it useful to post it up here as a closing for Anatomy and Dissection. I apologize for the length.


Our destiny was drawn to meet each other even before I decided to attend medical school in Tzu Chi University. It was summer of 2006 when you passed. Initially refused for donation due to systemic edema, you persevered and miraculously hurdled through the limitations before you went off, in surrounding of family and friends. The following fall, I became a freshman at Tzu Chi University.

It would take two years more for our first meeting – two homesick years filled with challenges and overcoming them that gradually pepped us up for a career in medicine. Our first meeting was on 2008, just before Mid-Autumn Festival. Serenity and gratitude enveloped us as we do the final touch-ups of the laboratory. You were lying in a neutral position, fully encased by resin. Your facial features suggest a typical Asian lady – tough, smart and thrifty. Your daughter had earlier hinted at your unusual righteousness, and urged us to learn the good qualities from you.

Over the course of the next 4 months every time we pray I seek upon you to bestow us knowledge more than gross anatomy. Our group was very cooperative and positive throughout. For me it was the opportunity to learn the value of patience, tolerance and communicating with others. I was fortunate in the sense that academia never really burdened me; what I made in brains I lacked in virtues. I believe your sacrifice is sacred in an educational way and somehow you will be able to tell me in times of exasperation and outrage that I must handle this with all the virtues I lack; that life is no more than the good qualities in all individuals – and I think President Obama agrees with us – “with hope and virtue, we can rebuild a nation.”

You are indeed a very special teacher who allowed us unlimited trials over your expired body. In times of wrongdoing, you fidget not nor blame us for the mistake – you took all that to your own and helped us stood up once more. As the semester proceeds into the depths of winter we were constantly challenged by the lack of progress and scheduling problems. You listened to us complaining on the cold of the lab, the softness and fragility of your tissues and even the fungi problem we later had. All this you took to yourself; and as we got more nervous you comforted us with your peaceful smile and lean torso.

You taught us that there is indeed life beyond death. An expired body contributed to the upbringing of 5 medical students to-be. Besides laying the foundation for the ever-demanding medicine, you taught us many virtues and qualities that would forever change our lives – trust, patience and tolerance. You lead us to believe that even in the darkest hour, even when humanity is extinguished by the weakening economy and corrupt world government, there will always be hope. And perseverance will ferry us through. I am humbled by your great gift to us, a present that will forever stay in the hearts of Group 11.

Time really flies – it really seemed like yesterday when we, accompanied by a crowd of seniors, laid hands for the first time on your chest. The first incision was rather swift for me, but for some, it was like a journey to Calvary. To some it was haunting as they have never witness death before. As we accelerate and zip through the semester I grew more familiar with you – your small but strong hands, your perfectly proportioned liver and kidney, your to-the-books spleen and the illness that plague you during the late years of life. You must have had a life of hardships, but yet fruitful and fulfilling to the Asian way.

After every inch of your body had been probed and studied, every scaffold and crease had been identified, we begun suturing and prepare for your final journey. Seeing a complete you laying once more on the platform is a reminder of what we’ve accomplished this semester. Again and again we tell ourselves never to forget the 4 months we spent with our silent mentor – the 4 months of sweat, tears and endless avalanche of knowledge that both humbled us and raised us to the expectations of Hippocrates.

As we bowed to you for the last time on Sunday morning, 18 January 2009, a surge of tears flooded my eyes. I wished you peace in afterlife as you’ve witness our effort this semester. As Prof. Wang announced the official end of this semester, I couldn’t help but recall all the time spent together huddled around the platform – the endless hours working under the lamp and the smell that clung to our clothes fingers long after that. At that enlightening moment, it didn’t matter anymore who accidentally transacted an artery or severed a nerve, all of us understood we have gave our completely and had benefited in our own ways.

Returning home several days after, I feel rather detached from the heat and the familiarity. Perhaps it is the fact that I had somebody who sacrificed for me back there – and comforted me during my most turbulent times – and would do so for the rest of my life.

To my silent mentor, Mdm. Lee, I vow that no matter where I am or what I pursue in future, I would hold on to the qualities that you emanated and emphasized throughout your life – righteousness, patience and tolerance. I would always put my best foot forward in all endeavours and lend a helping hand to those in need. I thank you for your sacrifice and may you rest in peace.


Anonymous said...

salute to TCU n profs for their anatomy n dissection program. It eventually developed most patience, tolerance n humanity doctors. Also salute to silent mentor 李美順大體老師, your sacrifice is sacred in an educational way which enable my son grows with all good qualities in life.May you rest in peace.