Readers of ethics and Jewish ethics, in particular, should recognize in the remarkable story about this woman and this powerful act of caring for a corpse one of the greatest acts of kindness marked in rabbinic sources that one person can do for another.
A few days a week, a woman arrives at the Metropolitan Plant and Flower Exchange — a squat, lime-green bunker along Route 17 North in Paramus, N.J. They know her there by her hospital scrubs.
She picks up her standing order: yellow daffodils. If there aren’t any daffodils, she’ll take carnations — yellow, please. That’s the most important part — bright yellow.
She brings the flowers with her to work at Hackensack University Medical Center. They aren’t for her office. They’re not for co-workers or patients. She carries them out back and walks into a parking garage.
Her name is Tanisha Brunson-Malone, 41, a forensic technician at the hospital’s morgue. She performs autopsies and oversees funeral home pickups of patients who have died.
Ms. Brunson-Malone enters each trailer and walks the aisle between the rows, pausing at each new body bag. There, she carefully places a flower on top [of each body bag].
“One or two, it depends on how many flowers I have,” she said. “Sometimes I run out. I’ll go after work to go pick up more flowers. I know in the morning I’ll need more.”