Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Resquiescat in Pace

R.I.P. gets thrown around a lot when people and their lives are separated from one another, and the translation most commonly used by English speakers sounds like a direct command. "Rest in peace, because I said so!" Now, 94% of my Latin is gone, and my wife is at work expecting me to be showering right now, but if Romans were commanding people to rest in peace, I believe that ending would be an -e, (don't quote me on that).

The only reason I mention the academic difference for English speakers is because that -at meaning denotes an exhortation, a plea. It's the same as "Let them eat cake." It's a "Let this person rest in peace." It's a request, it's a hope, it's a prayer. We are actually begging our lost to rest in peace, because we can't unless they do. The imperative mood suggests we have control, certainty. But make no mistake, the proper subjunctive contains its own meditation on the human condition and death. We are the impotent victims of either fate or statistics, two things that we have only tiny means of influencing overall.

No Survivors of UofM Jet Crash. Let them rest in peace. May they rest in peace. Please, for our sake as much as yours, we beg you to rest in peace.

For those of you reading from outside the UofM or Southeastern Michigan area, the plane contained a transplant team. Two crew members, an attending, a fellow, and two other members of the transplant team.

Different services at different hospitals have different reputations. The transplant service at UofM had the best kind of reputation: "we work you until you pass out, but we'll treat you like real live human beings the whole time." That's a medical student dream (well, less the first part, but medical students actually enjoy being worked hard when they, their educations, and the use of their time is being respected.) I've heard from at least one friend that the attending physician on this flight made excellent contributions towards the above reputation of goodness. I didn't have a month on transplant, as only about 20-30 people do each year out of a class of 170, but I know way too many people who are probably very personally effected by this to not be sad for them, including a friend who is on the service right now, and who I'm very thankful was not included on this flight.

Tragedies are often tragic, and this one is no exception. And if tragedies happening to good people are doubly tragic, then his one is also no exception.

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