by Orna Glick
The selfie Ms. T liked showed us “walking” uphill, father and son, except my dad could hardly hold his head up, sitting in his wheelchair, his head tilted leftwards as if about to fall off. The camera caught him smiling, his eyes almost open. He looked nothing like his old self, but I still saw my dad in his eyes, jaw-line, and smile. The photo showed me really sweaty, my mouth open ’cause I was singing at the top of my lungs, “And darling, darling, stand by me, oh stand by me…” My dad looked up at me, and I remember I could almost hear him say, in his pre-disease, deep voice: “Fifties to sixties rock-n-roll, that’s when music was real.”
Rewind two and a half years. “What you have is called Glioblastoma Multiform, or GBM. The prognosis is about a year and a half with radiation and chemo. You are not on the good side of the cancer fence,” Dr. Shcmock 1 said. Dr. Shcmock 2 added surgery to the mix.
“And if I skip treatments?” Dad asked.
“Well, then we’re talking about three months.”
I swear Shcmock 1 had a single tone to his voice. If I had to paint it, gray would be the color of choice. The only reason the doc’s office walls didn’t metaphorically crumble as a result of the holes the doc’s words punched through them, burying us all under the rubble, was because neither my dad nor I believed those applied to us.
From that moment on, it became very clear his sickness was as much mine as his. It felt like that b-day party we had attended when I was really young, where we had won the three-legged race with flying colors. We have always been an invincible empire.
So I had gone to all the radiation sessions with him. He’d get this look in his eyes while waiting his turn to have his head bombarded with rays of awfulness aimed at killing the horror within his brain. I hadn’t been able to figure out if it had been confusion or fear; terror or anger; probably a combo.
Ms. T, my teacher, knows some of this shit I’ve been going through, and I think that’s why she had asked me to wait a second after class a few months ago.
“I saw your pictures on Instagram. They’re really good. How about if you wrote a blog to accompany them? So that your followers would better understand what they are seeing. I could give you credit for it and make it count as your non-existent homework assignments.”
“I only show my father’s process of destruction by terminal cancer. And none of my 6000 followers ever comments on any of the pictures.”
“They will react if you write to them; make your tragedy accessible. If they know you and care about you, they would care about your father, too. You need to write a blog to go with the pictures.”
My best friend, Mackenzie, said Ms. T’s tits are as fake as the way most people behave in groups. She said Ms. T used to be a he. And that he/she might also have something between the legs, a leftover from different times. But I don’t care, ’cause right now Ms. T is the closest thing I have to a functioning grown-up in my life.
My name is Ben. This is my blog. You already know my best friend’s name. I would really appreciate it if you could tweet, give me a ‘like,’ or write some comment so it would feel less lonely here on death-row. This isn’t a holocaust museum or a cemetery; it’s just a whisper of misery in a really noisy world.
* * *
April 2nd, ’12
You know those movies about dying people turning their lives 180 degrees when discovering their bucket is about to be kicked? You know how they say they reached this ethereal level of serenity upon departing? You know how right before taking their last breath they tell their loved ones about this sense of closure they are feeling…remember that scene? Well, life ain’t a pop-rock clip or a Hollywood tearjerker, and most people don’t go happily into the light, just like most high schools in America don’t look like the one on Glee.
The video I posted earlier today (on Instagram) is of my dad at 6 a.m., drinking OJ and explaining he spent the night battling The Angel. Don’t freak out at his mumbling; it’s the disease impairing his speech.
It hasn’t even been a month since my first entry, but I’ve decided to continue writing, although as the photos indicate, not much has changed. We’re at a standoff with the disease.
Days and nights have intermingled as the following scene of desperation has repeated itself over and over and over again for a few months now.
“Look at what I have become, so bloated, so disgusting,” Dad said to me the other day as Bong, his helper, situated him in this swing/lift thing that picks him up from his wheelchair and places him on his couch. “Look at what I have become.”
He can hold his head straight only when we increase his steroid dosage, but it makes him constantly hungry and anxious. “I can’t stop eating,” his broken voice announces. He lies in bed, gets upset, and says to his helpers, “Take me to the sofa in the living room; I can’t sleep.”
“Have you noticed how bad they smell, these two? It’s like they have this stench under their skin. The weird thing is that they shower all the time. But they still smell.” He says this to me almost every day, the tumor promoting his forgetfulness. Sometimes he cannot remember what he did two seconds ago but can recount classes he had taught last decade.
It seems like he fears their stench would rub off on him. As if smell could possibly be an issue in the world of the dying. I guess when your existence is as frail as an obese girl in a varsity setting, the insignificance of the benign offers solace.
Not five minutes pass after they work their asses off to carry him to the living room couch before Dad’s broken voice commands, “Take me back to bed!” with this hopeless yearning for peace echoing through it. But there can be no calm in such a violent place, let alone comfort or mercy.
Sometimes Dad falls asleep for a few minutes then wakes up screaming: “I can’t live like this anymore! Take me, take me already.” And if you had known my dad, you would know he is the last person who would have ever screamed something like that. ‘Cause if you look at the definition of “courage” in the dictionary, my dad’s pre-disease headshot hangs there.
So the set of pictures I posted yesterday show those five minutes of sleep; the one right after is of Bong (smelly guy number 1) carrying him like he was a lifeless bag of fat (thrown out of those plastic surgery clinics after liposuction) back to his bed. If Bong’s eyes look red in the shot, you have to understand:
(a) He smokes weed that he steals from my dad’s stash (hey, they give you heroine if you ask for it at this stage of the game);
(b) He doesn’t sleep at night ’cause my dad keeps him awake.
* * *
Night of April 2nd, ’12
I can’t sleep so I figure it would be best to take the time to follow Ms. T’s advice.
I go to this cool, over-expensive school where kids go when their parents:
- Are really busy and the long hours at this free-to-be location will make up for the time they can’t put into their children;
- Are really rich and able to throw money at their kids’ individuality (i.e., have nothing better to do with their spare cash);
- A+B are correct
My dad used to teach at the Fu Foundation Columbia School of Engineering and Applied Sciences so they let me study here for free. He had to quit when he got sick.
When Dad first got sick, I had cut my school week from five to four days. The fifth day was ‘Dad Day,’ turned an official-off-school-day back when there was still hope, and we used to go see his doctor, get his blood work done, etc. We don’t do any of that anymore. So now I hardly ever go to school. I mean, I go less than four days a week. I am one of the few kids in America who don’t get asked why they cut school.
In fact, the only teacher who still communicates with me these days is Ms. T. The rest of them just kinda avoid me; their voices get lower when they ask me, “Did you get a chance to make up that class you missed?” They never even bother to wait for my reply before their eyes drift away. It’s like those “how’re ya?’s” from long-lost summer camp buddies you randomly meet in the bookstore before they vanish from your life again.
For the last three years, my dad’s and my curriculum has consisted of GBM primarily. We have tried everything; natural remedies, special diets, conventional medical treatments, electromagnetic healings, daily shots of a virus made in Eastern Europe that costs as much as your average seasonal Mets tickets. Three brain surgeries, too, mind you. Each surgery took away chunks of him; his short-term memory, mobility, beauty. The tumor has always come back with a vengeance.
The day I had learned he had brain cancer I jumped from the school’s top floor (there are only three) and landed in the bushes. Thing is, three floors apparently won’t kill you. Break your leg at best. Mackenzie found me and called an ambulance.
“So you think you can fly?! That’s cute, but One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest wasn’t a comedy in the end.” She laughed as she made her way through the thick bushes while pulling her cell out of her tote.
“I wish I was dead,” I said.
“Really?” She had tears in her eyes she was cracking up so hard while taking pictures of me with her phone. ” ‘Cause let me tell you, three floors never killed anyone, at least not adults. I think you wanted to make a statement. BTW, dyeing your hair purple is a whole lot easier. Hhhh.” She couldn’t stop laughing. “Get it?! D-Y-E-I-N-G your hair purple works better when it comes to getting attention and/or offing yourself. All those chemicals are really bad for you.”
A few days later, when my crutches-walk improved (I had a cast), she literally dragged me to what she called, “therapeutic activity” (midnight graffiti painting of a public toilet’s wall near campus).
“Suicide is not only a very sociopathic-selfish thing to do, but it is also an interruption to the space-time-continuum of humanity,” she said.
“What the hell?” I said to her while spraying the wall with a particularly psychotic shade of yellow. It was mid-October, and I was freezing my ass off and sweating under my coat at the same time.
“Suicide interrupts the space-time continuum more than us painting this wall illegally in the dead of night using Gatsbyish colors. We’re interrupting the eyes of park visitors, the police, and the wall that wishes to be blank and dark throughout the night, and now has been forced with a presence. You were born for some reason, and you will die for none. Just like everyone else, FYI. But we are born to do something, even if it’s killing someone else, for the sake of the argument.”
She stopped her speech for two apparent reasons:
(a) Take a breath,
(b) Pull up her hair.
She always did those things when excited, in this particular order, too. She resumed her speech. “Once you cease to exist without doing whatever it is you have to do, even something as random as painting this wall, you break the mold, that form-fitting vacuum your presence filled, creating a whole. If you leave that whole; you create a void. Now, you probably weren’t created to save the planet or wear swimsuits on the cover of magazines, no offense. I think you are here to love and cherish your father in a way that only you can. You are here to admire him in his demise. You are his hole-blocker, his continuum.” Her eyes were feverish in their movement; the glow-in-the-dark colors were reflected in them. Her words echoed Ms. T’s when talking me into writing this blog.
“It is up to you to figure out how to ‘make it your own.'” Mac’s voice cut my line of thought as she was mimicking Simon Cowell’s Brit accent when talking to contestants in his opium-for-the-masses-sing-along-shows, as they sing And I will Always Love you for the ten-millionth time. Mac and I have been watching these shows together forever. (We love The Bachelor as well.)
* * *
I want to continue telling you about Mac. I get drifted away in the Dad story, and you’re missing out on what else there is in my life. ‘Cause I know that there may be moments where you look at the pictures of my dad and freak out. Although a few minutes ago, I posted a few pics from my childhood, showing him in all his might.
For the past three-and-a-half years, Mackenzie and I have been sharing most of our classes (Dad got sick about six months after we met). We’ve been studying science, English and Math together. Arts we split. She majors in performing arts, which could explain her nose ring and tendency to sometimes wear wigs of various colors.
“I train myself to become different people all the time, so I can become the actress I dream of being,” she says to explain the frequent changes in hair colors and styles.
I major in plastic arts, which means I have normal hair, my closet consists of clothes from the Gap and the likes. Basically, if you look at me all you see is a regular kid. I don’t think I am particularly handsome. I like my hair and smile, though; they’re just like my dad’s.
I remember the first day of school better than I remember some of the days at the hospital; I guess I choose my recollections on the suffering scale.
Parents had been allowed only as far as the main auditorium, where we had all been sitting together and listening to the Dean, Professor W, who was explaining what the school was about and why it was so expensive. Mackenzie and I had teamed-up from the get-go because non-rich kids could recognize other non-rich kids in an extremely-rich-kids’ setting the same way junkies could pick out other junkies in a crowd.
When I think about it, it’s because people detect vulnerability and act on it, bringing them closer or driving them apart. We organize ourselves in groups according to our strength: the weak with weak, the strong with strong. The sick go with nobody. It is all one gigantic high school, the mental roots of which go back to the dawn of civilization.
So after Prof. W had stopped talking and the parents left, they divided us into groups and started all kinds of games. I remember at one point a skinny, tender-yet-firmly-gripping palm was placed in mine, and I was pulled away from the room. For a reason unknown to me to this day, I complied with the skinny hand. When out of the building, I turned around and realized the hand belonged to a brown-haired girl. Her big brown eyes pierced right through me. She was shorter than me, so I looked down.
“Mackenzie, that’s my name. Aren’t they horrible?”
“Everyone here. So fake”.
“What makes you think that?” I was really wondering. Really, as would any 14-and-change-year-old.
It wasn’t too long after that that I heard my dad’s similar observations about his support groups: “How do you really support the dying?”
Thank you all for responding and sharing. No, Mac doesn’t agree to have her picture posted on my Instagram account. No, she doesn’t want to let you know her phone number. Anyways, you guys would probably be excited to read the following response:
Hi, don’t want to tell you who I am, but you probably know me. Most kids do. I want you to know that my mom is dying of terminal cancer. And it really sux. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss her old self or wish I could save her. There’s not much I could offer you or say other than keep writing this thing of yours. It’s helpful to know someone like you exists. You put the Cool in Cancer, man.
The Famous One.
* * *
It would probably be best to tell to you what happened between Mac and I once we noticed that comment on my insta feed.
“OMG, I wonder who that is . . . maybe Taylor Swift, maybe one of the Kardashians . . . maybe Jake Gyllenhaal, I love that guy. We have to google and see whose mother has been dying of something as awful as BC.”
“I don’t think this person is necessarily providing us with the correct details of his/her cancer story. I think he or she is just feeling my pain and has been experiencing something similar,” I said. “It doesn’t matter who this person is, what matters is that people are responding to me.”
“S-e-r-i-o-u-s-l-y? Are you for real?” Mac nearly exploded. Then, like most times when she is completely blown away by me (i.e., suicide attempt), she started laughing hysterically. “No way, no way. We are soooo not letting this one slide. You are completely delusional if you think I will let you pass on this one.” She stared at me with the amazement reserved for the bizarre (the way Simon looks at contestants who sing like whining cats falling off high-rises). “No, this time I mean it when I tell you this is not happening. If you won’t help me find out who this person is, then I am done helping you.”
“What is it that you want me to do?” I couldn’t recognize my voice; it seemed to be coming out of this dark hole within my soul; sounding almost as shattered as my dad’s.
“What do you mean ‘what I want you to do?’ I want to fucking get a hold of this celebrity person. I want to know who this is; I want to meet and buddy-buddy him or her. I want us to go through this shit together.”
“Where would we even begin looking?” I ask.
She just smiled.
So here we are. I have a celeb—perhaps young celeb, perhaps even cool—celeb friend/partner in trouble. The truth is, this has all been discouraging, since at the end of the day if this person, whoever he/she may be, with all their money and connections couldn’t find The Cure, how wasamI supposed to ever find it?
* * *
She became such a nagging little brat about the escapade to find this person, I became jealous. It wasn’t too long ago she was still dating college freshmen she would meet on campus (sneaking into the dorms’ cafeteria anyone?) and telling me all about it. We have only been together for the past couple of weeks.
It wasn’t like I was planning to hook up with Mac. Somehow we did. We were studying for English one evening in her room (my house had become a full-blown hospice by then, making studying there impossible), and we fell asleep cuddled. In the middle of the night, we started kissing, and one thing led to another. Yeah, it was my first time; no, it wasn’t hers. In the morning, she looked at me, and while pulling on her really tight jeans, she said, “You know I love you, right?” The stench of morning breath spread throughout the room, and that was that. Mac and I became us.
But not when it came to the mystery-celeb, we weren’t. Trying to make her drop the whole thing, I said, “He/she obviously does not want their beloved’s illness exposed for the world to see and pity. If there is one thing I hate most about my dad’s condition, it has to be those looks on people’s faces when they see him; they are turned off by his appearance, his weakness, his misery. Their glances dehumanize him; their fake empathy—masking pure repulsion. I know revolt. I know death and the dying disgust us.
“The other thing I hate,” I took advantage of Mac’s bewildered silence reflected in her gigantic eyes, “is the confused look in the eyes of a once strong, resourceful, innovative man who has had no idea how to work out this unsolvable equation that his life has turned into; and how all the things he had done so right his whole life have added up to this.”
She still didn’t say anything, yet something in her eyes seemed so absorbing, so I continued, allowing my voice out of its cage of self control: “You don’t know what it means to do everything right? Right? It means you don’t smoke anything, you don’t drink, eat right, have virtually zero BP, run daily, take vitamins, raise kids, go on trips, make something of yourself, support your family, read books; God, he even wrote a few.”
She just hugged me, allowing my tears fill up the celeb-created-gap between us.
When it had all just started, a few weeks after my futile jump, I remember I had come back home at about 11 p.m. from a night with Mac down at the village and walking in on my dad sitting next to the kitchen table, covering his face with his palms, yelling out, “Mercy, God, mercy.” He had been trying to pour himself some anti-cancer liquid-drug he had bought online into a cup and add water and the whole thing had spilled all over the place. He hadn’t been able to control his hands.
We are talking about my dad here, yeah? His whole being has been about building stuff out of scratch. He had built the world’s first electronic hair removal machine. He had been on the team that invented the unmanned aerial vehicle, had built the prototype with his hands. True story.
You must know he has put the fight of his life against this monster in his head. He had read every book out there about alternative and conventional cancer treatments until his tumor deprived him of all reading privileges; he had run religiously, when he could, and had practiced yoga when he couldn’t run any longer; except for a few breakdowns (i.e., mentioned kitchen incident), he had been optimistic through it all, until there was nothing to be optimistic about any longer.
* * *
I woke up this morning and discovered Mac invaded my Instagram account as well as my blog and posted this while I was sleeping.
Dear Famous One,
I am Ben’s girlfriend. Since he is busy trying to ease his dad’s suffering, I decided I would write to you. I am a drama major who wants to be an actress. I know NYC is full of kids like me, but I would like to believe I have something unique to offer the world.
Anyways, Ben knows everything there is to know about his dad’s condition. He has handpicked all the people that work for his dad, and he has been his father’s doctors’ best friend and worst enemy. He has been going to the ends of the earth and back for his dad, and this has been going on for nearly three years now.
You MUST meet him so he knows he is not alone. He is SO alone in this. He won’t go to support groups ’cause they bore him. He doesn’t really talk to me or anyone else about it, not in depth anyways. He writes here, and you are the first person he has ever actually responded to.
So please dear whoever, step forward. Invite him over. Take him to lunch. He can help you, I am sure, more than you would probably realize at first. He is one of those people whose value increases over time. And you would be his Super Bowl commercial.
Mac who will be famous one day
I was blown away by this. So blown away I couldn’t bring myself to return her calls. All I did was play trivia with my dad all day, and when he asked if Mac was gonna stop by like she has every single day in the past three years, I did not answer. Despite all his frailty and confusion, he got the hint and nearly let go of the whole issue. Nearly; sick or not, he was still my dad.
“Love her to life,” he said and tried to make his lips’ disobedient muscles curve into the perfect smile that used to be his trademark.
“Russia. The Russian winter had won the Allies Second World War.”
“What?” I was confused.
“The answer to the trivia question,” his long term memory as impeccable as ever.
* * *
Morning After Mac’s Post
So now I was curious what the celeb person would write back, and if at all. Fortunately, the response was there. First comment of the day:
Dear Mac and Ben,
I am not about to tell you who I am because I don’t want to be bombarded with crap right now as my situation is very similar to yours with the exception that I have to keep mine under wraps. I will promise you this; my manager will get a hold of you, Ben Young. In the meantime, stay strong.
A few days later someone named Beanie called me. She had the squeakiest voice ever; I thought she was sixteen. She was the lady manager of someone she wouldn’t reveal the name of. She said she would send a car to my parents’ house to pick me and Mac up the next day. And the limo did in fact come and take us to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. There, we were accompanied to a suite just to meet with the bodyguard who explained to us that Mr. or Ms. Star had to be rushed out of town on an emergency, but we were welcome to enjoy the hotel facilities and have dinner and whatnot before we left. Mac almost cried. I didn’t care. I just wanted to go back home to my dad.
We hooked up in the suite.
* * *
My dad’s was the first corpse I have ever seen. His eyes closed, a hint of a smile on his lips, as if he was about to tell me one of his jokes. His head was stretched high, as if stating he was taking his fate with dignity. I put dark cloth over his eyes; that’s how he used to nap sometimes.
I couldn’t cry. Months of taking antidepressants kill your tears.
He wasn’t bloated anymore. A week earlier, on Saturday night, we ordered pizza, and he mumbled something about how he has always loved pizza. He could only hold his slice with his right hand as the left side of his body had been completely paralyzed. He chewed with only half of his mouth and some of the food fell out. It wasn’t a polite view, but it was the best view.
Then he fell asleep at the table. Bong took him to his bed, and I thought perhaps he wasn’t suffering so much tonight ’cause the night went by peacefully. But it turned out to be a week-long sleep.
The first day of sleep I massaged his feet, and he still responded by shaking them when I had stopped, asking for more. He even whispered something about gefilte-fish, and I tried to feed him some. The second day we had gotten him on fluids ’cause we didn’t want him to choke on food as he had lost his ability to chew. On the third day, he still squeezed my hand when I talked to him or put on Elvis for him. His responses wound down as the week progressed. We had our Passover Seder in the room next to his, so he could listen in on his last Seder here on earth.
The tumor invaded all vital areas of his brain and slowed his breathing down until there was no more. No drama like in the Westerns or war movies we had watched together throughout the years; just deeper and deeper sleep. I held his hand when he took his last breath. No words can describe what it means to hear one last sound of life coming out of the man who has been my lamppost and lead navigator my whole life.
I posted a picture of him just lying there with the cloth.
* * *
The celeb dude (I assume he’s a dude, since he called me “man”) posted this a couple of hours ago on the insta comments:
I am so, so, so sorry. My heart goes out to you. Let’s meet. Sorry I bailed on you the other day. I wasn’t ready. Call Beanie.
And so we met. Just us two. No Mac. No Beanie. We met at a small diner near JFK ’cause the kid star was on the way to catch a flight. He had a whole staff attending his dying mother. But he had one question for me.
“Please let me know what to say to her. I read all these blogs about what people say to the dying. And I still don’t know what to say.”
“Say you cherish your time together. Tell her about all the significant things she has done for you. Oh, and touch her.”
“What did you say?”
“I said I remember how he used to teach me Algebra. How he would argue with teachers on my behalf. How he drew a ridiculously bad picture of a torch and wrote GO FOR THE GOLD on it and pasted it to my desk. How he picked me up every time I had fallen, and there were many times; how he would wake up at 4 a.m. to drive me to school trips and summer camps; I said I remember how he told me to ignore bad people and act like I was wearing a raincoat, a buffer between me and them.”
“But that’s stuff almost anyone can say about their parents, no?” he mumbled.
“That’s not all. I talked about his ability to tell me where and when I was fucking up and help me correct myself. His ultimate faith in my talents, the way he would be angry at me if I would give up or not follow through on my word; the fact that he wasn’t afraid to make me better.”
“Better than him?” he looked at me.
“Better than me.” My hollow voice broke the emerging dead silence between us.
“I said how making him proud has been my badge of honor. And I held his hand the whole time I was talking.” The voice vanished, and mine resumed; but the breaking point was hanging above our greasy, once-yellow-now-half-orange-with-ketchup-stains diner table. I had to breathe before the voice would come back again.
He just looked at me. His designer glasses—his shield.
“There is one thing I should have said that I didn’t. And you should say it if she’s still responsive.”
“What?” He took off his glasses, and I could see his cancer-child eyes now: the confusion, hurt, shame, that glimpse of betrayal life imprinted in his irises. With all his success at such a young age—the affluence, popularity, chicks, jets—we had the same eyes.
“Say you know she is dying. Tell her not to be afraid, you are there for her every step of the way.”
“Why didn’t you say that?”
The voice was coming back. “I was scared. I didn’t want to admit I had failed to save him. I regret it now. I should have told him he is flying off the ledge, and it was time to accept it. Acceptance would have saved him so much misery.”
“Can you come with me?”
“No. You don’t need me there. You need to be with her alone—no Beanie either. No one but you.” My normal voice was back.
* * *
I took a break from writing to you for a few weeks. Needed to figure out what to do with myself now that Dad was gone. The house has been so empty, as was I. I have been waking up in the morning with this crippling sense of falling, which made me grab something tangible in my hand just to get out of bed. The worst part of it has been this horrible sensation running through my gut, as if I had eaten a piece of metal. All this has been going down before I brush my teeth. Anyways, a couple of days after these morning sessions started, he called. BTW, DV are the initials of his name.
“Can you come to the funeral?” he asked me as if I needed other people’s funerals in my life. “It’s just that with all the people there, I feel like I am totally alone in this. Also you have to guide me through the eulogy; don’t take this the wrong way, but yours was just really good, if that’s something you say about eulogies. I know you are wondering how it is that I know this, and, well, I had Beanie go to your dad’s funeral. She recorded your eulogy and played it for me. And, yes, I know exactly how pathetic I am.”
“Just sing to her. I will see how I feel, and maybe I will come.”
I did go to his mom’s funeral in the end. He sang his own version of “The Whole of the Moon” by the Waterboys. “I saw the crescent, you saw the whole of the moon . . . ” His voice was naked, just hanging in the room, echoing a distant abyss in our communal soul. His “song choice” (to put it in Simon Cowell’s words) made me realize we shared a scar on a level deeper than what meets the eye. BTW, I would have picked the same song exactly had I known how to carry a note.
Getting back home after the funeral, Mac was at my house. I gave her a key the same day DV had called, as I realized these morning sensations I told you about weren’t going anywhere.
“I have a surprise for you.”
“What? I have to warn you I am not at the top of my game.”
She took out a few tubes. “Its hair dye.” She paused for a breath. “And bleach.”
“What the hell?”
“We’re gonna have to bleach your hair first, ’cause purple doesn’t stick on brown, not even if its light brown like your hair. Shhh!”
That was her response to my mouth opening to the size of Columbia campus gates on 116th and Broadway.
“We are dyeing your hair purple. This way, your dad’s love will stare at you in the mirror every time you look at it. That’s what love is, ya’ know. It’s that thing that happens when you stop being scared of your own reflection.”
About an hour ago, I posted a picture of me with purple hair on my insta account. And no, I don’t care if you think it doesn’t look good. Hardly even 10 minutes passed before my phone beeped, as the first “like” and comment on my insta feed appeared:
I think it looks great man. Don’t forget, we have to find our whole of the moon now.
The Famous One.
Orna Glick has been a journalist and a writer for the majority of her life. The Columbia Journalism School alumnus (’00) worked for CBS News in New York City and Israel on and off since her graduation. In addition, she covered a range of issues at the Jerusalem Post. She has taught English at Tel Aviv colleges and universities for the past decade. Mrs. Glick currently lives with her husband and two children in Tel Aviv, Israel.