Osteology and the Study of Garbage Bags

Little known fact about me:  I love bones.  Mostly human bones, but I also enjoy animal skeletons.

One time in university we had a guest speaker that our Osteology prof was very excited to bring in.  She was fascinating, absolutely passionate and just exuded her love of all things osteological.  She told us about how she would clean roadkill using dermestid beetles to strip the bones quickly and cleanly.  And how she would use those skeletons to study trauma to the bone, healing and aging.  Amazing stuff, absolutely riveting.

There’s just something about studying the basic structure that supports our bodies and therefore our very subsistence.  There is so much that can be gleaned by studying the bones of person, without all of the extraneous superficialities getting in the way.  And quite often, the bones are where the longest lasting scars, evidence of trauma, maltreatment or malnourishment, are discovered after death and after everything else has crumbled away.

We’ve had the opportunity to have an up close and personal peek into the foster care system over the past while.   And I suppose that’s why, when we went luggage shopping this morning in preparation for our Epic Road Trip, that I began to wonder what a person really needs in life.  What do we really need to carry with us?

Because, in my mind’s spaghetti-like fashion, I thought of an episode of Bones – a tv show about forensic anthropology.  I used to love that show until they began adding so much gore that I just couldn’t watch it anymore.  But the main character, Brennan, was a foster kid.  And in that episode she spoke of having to pack her things into a garbage bag to carry them to a new foster home.  And then another, and another.

And that stuck with me.  They spoke about it in our PRIDE training too, in preparation for adoption, about respecting a child’s possessions because they may not have very many.  Their belongings may have been shuffled from home to home in a garbage bag, symbolic of their implied value.

As much as we don’t need “things” to survive, they become part of our identity.  Our valued possessions have significance to us and are an extension of us.  They connect us to our past and say something of our future.  Like a faded photograph, those possessions can remind us that we are loved, that we have a purpose, that our lives are not meaningless.   Or they can remind of us of the loss of family and friends, or of events that we’d rather not remember.

Just like our bones.  Our bones carry with them physical remnants of how we’ve been treated since the moment we were conceived.  They grow and adapt to our surroundings, our habits and our situation, even after we’ve stopped growing in height.

And so I pay for this luggage, and pray that someone is buying our child-to-be her own suitcase, as a place to put her belongings, her memories and her hopes.

And that she knows she is loved and that she has a purpose.

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