There’s something to be said for dealing with death on a daily basis. It makes a person more grateful, more appreciative for the life they do possess. It also makes a person more aware how incredibly fragile life is, how sometimes just the merest breath of chance is enough to take it away. It makes a person face the reality that death can be unspeakably unfair, and horrific and tragic accidents can befall anybody, no matter how nice or mean or good or evil the person is. It takes decades for a person to reach full growth, and sometimes more to reach potential, and yet it can be wiped out in the space between one heartbeat and the next.

Every time I have to deal with a dead child I can’t help but think of my own daughter on that table, a similar tragedy or sudden illness happening to her. I try so hard to appreciate her, to savor every moment with her, but I sometimes fail, as all parents do from time to time. There are times when I don’t want to spend any more quality time with her, when I just want her to go to bed so that I can get some work done. But then something happens that reminds me to appreciate the time I have with her, that pushes me to remember the lilt of her laugh, or the delighted shriek she makes when I pick her up and swing her around.

People wonder how I can do the work that I do. It’s gross, it’s smelly, it’s shocking and obscene.

But it reminds me of how fortunate I am, and for me, that’s what makes the job worth doing.