Mar. 15th, 2009

fictional: (dr. who family)
Last night, I was sitting in a hospital room, gazing out at the Hudson River. The span of the George Washington bridge is framed perfectly in the window. Underneath there is a little lighthouse, still red, still working.

I had a book about it when I was small, about four or so, The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge. I read it over and over and over.

(Something about the Little Red Lighthouse and its low self-esteem must have resonated? I don't know.)

One day, my father seized me by the hand, and told me we were going for a walk. He wouldn't tell me where. That was pretty par for the course; he was always sweeping me off on some crazy walk or lunatic adventure -- it would seem entirely aimless at first, and then suddenly we were at the forgotten sunken bridge, or up in the Cloisters, or seeing the Strauss House, and being told the tale of the Titanic for the very first time. Or climbing rocks, and having a good hunt for mollusk shell imprints -- found a few too -- while he described the slow march of glaciers through all this space, and what speed they'd be moving at, painting me a picture with words that lived, with colors and sounds. Or pretending we were birds for a week, so we could figure out how they lived. Or turtles. Or telling me he was secretly a (very well-preserved) Leonardo DaVinci -- that's when I learned about aerodynamics, and the relationship between sculpture and anatomy, and mirror writing. Or mulberry picking, every August. Or taking me to a church, and a synagogue, and a mosque -- my dad is a militant atheist -- and sitting inside them for a while, just to get the feel of these things that move people to such great extremes. It was a long time before I realised every game was a lesson too. It didn't matter; they all came alive. Anyway, he'd never tell me where we were going before we got there; I just had to wait and see. (Maximum drama, don't you know.)

Anyway, on the day in question, we'd walked all the way from our house on 215th st. to the foot of the G.W. Bridge, and then sure enough --- there was a enormous grey bridge, and underneath it, a little red lighthouse, which at the time, you could even still climb up to the top of.

"There it is," he said to me. "From your book."

I stood in awe.

Stories, I had just discovered for the first time, were real.

You know those chicken-soup type stories about the one teacher you have that inspires you, is special, makes a mark, inspires you, et cetera, et cetera? I never had one. Never felt the lack either.

That's because my father has been the best teacher I have ever had. Brilliant and crazy, and so much fun. He taught me physics and calculus, how to kick a soccer ball, to recite poetry and plays, how to arch a single eyebrow, matrices and probablity and logic and base numbers. When I had trouble with math as kid -- fractions and word problems -- he took me home, sat me down, handed me a notebook and a pen, and told me to write down what he said. And he started at the beginning of the history of mathematics -- with cavemen, and learning to count. We started there and I filled at least a hundred notebooks, I think, just writing paragraph after paragraph as he dictated. We started with counting, and by the time we were done a couple of months later, I could differentiate and integrate. He made it into a story.

I was ten years old.

Four days ago, my father was in perfect health. Three days ago, he went to bed, woke up in sleeping in a different position than when he'd lain down. On the other side of the room was a broken vase. He had lacerations on his arm, and his glasses were twisted. He couldn't remember anything about what might have happened. He finally told me about it, and I forced him to go to the ER with me. After a billion hours, he was admitted to the hospital... with a brain tumour, and an (as yet) unidentfied mass in one lung. He had brain surgery on Friday the 13 (!!!); it has gone as well as could be expected.

Now, we are in for what looks to be a long haul.

This is all very hard. We don't yet know anything regarding prognosis. I will be online... not that much -- I'm spending most nights at the hospital, as he can't be left alone, and I want my mother to be able to sleep. All of my friends -- not really friends, more family -- have been incredible through this. You guys are all stars, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. For those of you, whom I only speak to online, I hope you're all doing well. I miss you, and hope to be back... soon. I know I'm missing moments in your lives, while I'm so busy with my own. It sucks. I hope to catch up with y'all soon.

I want to write another post later with more details, but I must get some sleep before I head back to the hospital.

I'll go back to that same room tonight, propped up on my chair, staring out the window at the flow of the Hudson, watching the little light atop the little red lighthouse flash. It's like a beacon.

Remember, I think, remember. Everything. Every moment. Horrible, petty, grand, small notes of grace and kindness, frustrated rage, fury. Everything. All terrible right now. All precious.



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August 2009

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