As part of this last miserable 16-18 months, I include brother Dan’s stroke. This happened just a month ago, out of the blue, as strokes do, I guess. He is the baby-bro of the four of us, just 47 years old, 14 years younger than I, born in 1960, completely Californian born and raised.
I was going into one of those horrible meetings we have and my stupid cell phone rang and it was brother Dan to tell me that he wouldn’t be going down to San Diego as previously planned and wouldn’t be able to pick up the car that Carol’s mom was giving Carol, and oh by the way, I am in the hospital. The connection wasn’t good, and there was noise all around from students going this way and that, and he didn’t want to talk about it. So all I could gather was something significant had happened.
And I had to go to this meeting and so I called Carol and asked if she could find out what happened and went into the meeting, and later learned that brother Dan had been transferred to the down town hospital because they thought maybe he had a stroke and he was in for at least 24 hours of observation. Well, it was a stroke as observation proved. Funny, when he spoke with me right after he went to the hospital he was pretty clear but by the next day his language capacity had pretty much gone and the right side of his face, while not paralyzed exactly, was sagging.
This pretty much took the wind out of my sails and threw me for a loop. I mean not like the loop he was thrown for of course, but my own particular loop. Deep down we are tied I think to certain people around us. Attached. And what happens to them happens to us. Not in the same way of course, but significantly. My energy, after the first week or so of high anxiety, began to go in a way that I call depression. I would wake up and feel overcome by the weight of the day ahead of me. I still feel that way actually.
For me his condition reverberates most deeply with my death thing. I have had a death thing long time. I remember talking with my girl friend in college about it, saying I thought about death every day, and she looked at me kind of funny because she said she hardly ever thought about it. But I think about it every day. Call it a morbid fascination. Maybe terror or just plain horror. I just don’t get it. The death thing I mean.
Or maybe consciously I think about death and deep down unconsciously I am really thinking about something else. In any case, how a person feels or doesn’t feel about death is purely a psychological matter particular to the individual. Maybe deep down I am feeling some sort of loss, deep, and as inexplicable as death itself. Or maybe it’s that I use my brain all the time and death is just plain irrational. It makes no sense at all—to be and then not to be. I just don’t get it. So the death thing is the fly in the ointment of trying to make sense of things using the brain. The brain just can’t explain it.
That’s a picture of brother Dan that he sent along via email to the brothers as a way of saying, hey, I am getting better and doing a-ok.