As regular readers know, I underwent a shoulder repair only four days ago.  I had an appointment today with my young surgeon–I’m of an age where a great many people are somehow suddenly young compared to me–who showed me a number of photos of the damage and the repair, which included an Allograft, which is defined as “A gift of donated bone, heart or connective tissue.”

In other words, part of another human being, someone I’ll never know, who died not long before my surgery.

A part of them will live on in me.

Their connective tissue is part of what my surgeon tells me is a relatively new procedure, a procedure that seems to be working well for those that have had it. Without it, the only option would have been a metal shoulder joint, which is something best to avoid unless one has no other option, particularly when one is reasonably young and active, as I am.

I am grateful for the skills of my surgeon, for having very little pain and no post-op complications, for the good health that should allow me to recover fully and regain pretty much complete use of my shoulder. But I am most grateful for the man or woman whose passing provided the essential means of my recovery, and for their surviving loved ones, waiting in this imperfect world to be once again reunited with those they love in a better world.

As a teacher, and a musician, I strive to pass on to others that which is worth possessing: beauty, the joy of learning, the belief that they too can be more than they are, and that the accomplishment is more than worth the effort. I believe that something of me will live on in my thousands of students, and I pray, every day, that God will give me the intelligence, the ability, and the humility sufficient that my students will be better and more capable people for having known me. After all, giving of our knowledge, of our experience, and perhaps eventually, our bodies, is all we have to give.

I gratefully receive this physical gift that I’ll carry with me until the end of my days. I can promise only that I will use it to give my energies, knowledge, abilities and love that the lives of others might be a little better for my having passed their way.

It is a gift, freely given, that I could never have known I would need, yet its importance in my life, and perhaps, the lives of others, is great. That’s the best, most lovely kind.