I sit and write this blog on the day before our group will leave São Paulo and fly to Foz do Iguacu. Two weeks ago, it seemed that our group would have an eternity to spend here. However, now that we are preparing to leave, I am left grappling with this question: where has the time gone?
On Monday, I had the chance to think about the concept of time in a new way as a few members of our group got to visit the University of São Paulo. There we were given the opportunity to learn about their research regarding mice and the effect of air pollution on their kidneys. We also got to tour some of their science labs. I loved each of these opportunities, yet there was nothing that could have prepared me for one part of our tour.
During the tour, our group got to witness autopsies being performed on people who had died of natural causes within the last 12 hours, and we got to learn about how they used information from the autopsies in their research. The lab itself was cold and dark, and it had a distinct, pervasive smell unlike anything I had ever experienced. While we were in that room, time seemed to stand still.
Upon leaving the lab, I did not really know how to process all that we had seen. I do not believe there is anything that can justify the loss of human life, so the initial shock of this experience was rather difficult. However, after taking some time to reflect, I have come to terms with the situation by thinking about the time that each person did have on Earth. Each person was given a life to live, and whether they felt they had enough time or not, they had only the life they had been given. No person in that room could have wished for more time. Such a wish would have only cost them precious moments of their life while they still had it.
In thinking about leaving São Paulo, I realize that my greatest regret is not having more time to spend with my host family. Anna and I have grown to love them so much, and just the thought of leaving them brings tears to my eyes. However, I have learned to cherish and live in the moment because the only time we have is the time that we have been given. Wishing for more time only takes away from the time that we do get to spend with one another. In light of our visit to the university, I have chosen to enjoy our host family today without the saddening thought of leaving them tomorrow. I have chosen to breathe more deeply today, knowing that in this moment, the time I have is enough.