a short-story by Todd Akira Morikawa
Colin Weinman got diagnosed with Crohn’s disease; complicated with a rare form of cancer; many medical specialists in white coats milled around; and to-and-fro from Colin’s hospital Bedroom at the adolescent intensive care ward at La Guardia Medical Center; one of the nation’s finest Hospitals.
Both Colin’s dad; Sydney; and mother; Evelyn spared nothing to help Colin; Colin the enfant terrible; the prima donna artiste’; their baby; their everything. Sydney and Evelyn had both survived the Holocaust, in Nazi Germany; & were determined to perpetuate their bloodline in Colin.
Sydney visits Colin in the Hospital.
One day; Sydney visited Colin alone.
“There’s not much time left for me.”
“Now don’t talk like that. The best doctors are taking care of you. You’ll be alright. I promise.” There were tears in Sydney’s eyes.
“Dad. Listen. I know. I’m going to go soon.”
“C’mon Colin. Soon this will all be over and…”
“No, Dad. Listen. I’m going to die. But it’s o.k. We can be together again. There’s an afterlife; I’ll give you a sign when I’m there. You’ll see. But you have to believe; or else you won’t find me.
Sydney; a lifelong rational thinker, and believer in Reason, Logic, and Progress; had tried long and hard to erase all stains of superstitious beliefs in spiritualism, and other nonsense. from Colin, although Evelyn still perused her worn copy of the Chumash; the Jewish version of the Pentateuch, almost peripatically.
In a few days, there were other talks; meetings; terrorist bombings; virus scares, earthquakes, tsunamis; floods, fires, kidnappings, marriages, births, deaths; bills passed; jobs lost; jobs gained; someone won a lottery; hit the jackpot in Vegas; another political scandal; plane-crashes; marathons run; a forest burned to the ground; lives saved; lives lost; love affairs started & ended; the World went on. Life did not stop. One life begins; another ends; half the world lives half the world dies… but every end… is another beginning…
Sydney visits Colin again in the Hospital.
One day Sydney went to visit Colin alone, again, as Evelyn had taken to going back to the old Rabbi at Beyt Tikkun, clinging to shreds of Evelyn’s religious-faith; which had waned as the years go by; and was either in some kind of Torah-study, or other group held at the Rabbi’s house, lead by Miriam, the Rabbi’s wife. Whatever helps Evelyn Cope (with a capital C), Sydney thought.
Dad; Colin looked at Sydney with a fixed, glazed look that disturbed Sydney somehow with something Sydney couldn’t quite put Sydney’s finger on – just too much fixity; too damned intense for a-what-sixteen year old kid? Colin had always been a bright one; and always had conversation-ending responses that raised the eyebrows of people; gifted; Colin put it. Doesn’t-fit-in. Asks too-many-questions. Sydney chalked it up to Colin being curious.
Again, Colin repeated Colin’s earlier communication…
“Dad… I don’t have much time….
“what? c’mon Colin you have your whole life ahead of you. think positive. you’ll be out of here in no time. I’m right here. I’m not going anywhere.”
Dad, please…. listen Dad…. I can see….faces….
I can hear… voices… Dad….
What, Colin, what?
The faces are telling me that I’m going home soon.
(Oh no, remind me to tell the doctors to adjust Colin’s medications, Sydney thought, this is just too much – must be the stress of the illness – could happen to anyone Sydney thought.)
o.k. Colin, o.k. you rest – I’ll come back and check you later.
Sydney leaned over and hugged Colin and gave Colin a kiss on the cheek.
No, Dad. Tears were rolling down Colin’s eyes. For Real. I’m going. Listen, Dad,
please, Dad, listen. You and mom and me can be together again. you won’t see anymore, but I’ll still be there. I can see grandma and grandpa and uncle and everyone. They are waiting for me. On the other side. The veil between worlds has grown thin. I’m being pulled. But Dad, listen, we can be together again, but you have to BELIEVE.
(Grandma and Grandpa and uncle were dead, Sydney knew, who “everyone” is escaped Sydney – maybe more imaginary dead people?)
Colin, you need to rest. (and so do I, thought Sydney) I’m sure you’re tired.
Dad, Colin pleaded, Colin’s little-arms outstretched towards Colin’s father.
“Promise me, you won’t forget about this, will you? You have to BELIEVE; then you can find me. I’ll send you a sign from the next-world. Then you’ll believe. Dad. please… I’m going soon.
Believe; find me… Don’t believe… you won’t find me… BELIEVE… FIND…. don’t believe – won’t find.” Colin’s eyes were open wide and Colin’s face was stretched from exhaustion. Colin dropped into a deep-sleep.
Colin Weinman left this world on December 21rst, 2002 at the age of 16.
Sydney and Evelyn were shocked. The doctors were sorry; “We did everything we could. The patient’s pain was managed on a palliative-care basis. The cancer was not only too aggressive; apparently the cancer had mutated to some new form that we don’t really understand. We’ve never seen a case like this before.
Maybe the data gathered in this case can help someone in the future. Our hope is that one day a cure for this, and other Cancers is found. While there is a genotypic, hereditary basis, environmental factors, -as well as individual phenotype; and case-by-case particularities; all seem to play a role in the cancer asa whole. The doctors wore a somber face which came from being around dying patients, stroke patients, burn-victims, and seeing blood, disease, and death on a regular-basis.
Sydney took a sabbatical leave from the university and Evelyn took to Evelyn’s women’s support-groups, and going out with Evelyn’s friends.
With Colin going, had taken the wind out-of-their sail of the life of both Sydney and Evelyn. Sydney and Evelyn hardly talked about Colin anymore, just a strange, awkward silence, and emptiness, and an infinite sadness where Colin used to be.
Evelyn, and Sidney, years after Colin’s death.
Years later, Evelyn and Sidney decided to buy a new custom house in the Berkeley Hills; complete with multiple levels; indoor garden, and beautiful, artful décor.
Evelyn announced that Evelyn had had a series of dreams in which Colin had appeared, walked through the house to the interior garden, and pointed at the tree. Then Colin disappeared into the tree.
Sydney; said Evelyn; I have a feeling that Colin is still alive. or if not alive – still there. Somewhere. Somehow.
Sydney only looked at Evelyn uncomprehendingly the way you’d look at someone who announced seriously that the world will end in the Rapture, and that Jesus is literally coming Soon (or sometime, hopefully soon, in a mythical-future, to bring the kingdom-of-heaven)…. or who announced that they’d had contact with aliens, or possessed telepathy, or psychic powers, or discovered a secret that will change the world.
An understanding, well-meaning look of condescension came over Sydney’s face, the same way that people look at the village-idiot, or the way that you look at your crazy mother-in-law who thinks the government is plotting with the I.R.S. to take all the assets of the family or some other strange, bizarre idea, like Elvis is still alive, or that the Nasa Moon Landing was faked.
Colin subsequently appeared in Evelyn’s dreams only to walk into Evelyn’s embrace and Evelyn would awake in a cold sweat, screaming Colin’s name only to discover that Evelyn was alone and it was all a dream.
Sidney, Evelyn pressed. “I feel like Colin’s trying to tell me – or us -something.”
“I believe, Sydney, I believe.”
“Oh, No.” thought Sydney. All my life I have carefully tried to shelter both Colin (when Colin was alive) and my Evelyn from these primitive myths that people cling to in order to deal with life’s inevitabilities…. what Freud called infantile regression to feelings of “oceanic-love” (illusory); this isn’t the middle-ages. The Church is not in Control of the masses anymore. And the Earth is not Flat, Pigs do not have wings, and the Sea is NOT boiling-hot. Parsnips, with butter, please.
Faery tales are entertaining. But one must learn to distinguish fact from fantasy, no matter what one wishes. That is part of the growing up process. It’s common-sense. Sydney shook Sydney’s head.
Sydney heard some far-away voice calling Sydney… Dad…. it sounded like…. Colin. Oh no, now it’s happening to me, thought Sydney.
Well, this is some kind of trick-of-my-imagination.
For some reason, Sydney was drawn to the interior garden, and stood looking through the window at the cherry-blossom tree in the middle of the garden, with a running stream of water besides the tree, and terraced landscaping.
There was no sound, no wind, just a tinkling, ethereal rush of laughter, like a thousand elven fairies glissening and resounding jubilantly.
There was a stroboscopic flickering of the lights, and time seemed to both telescope and stand still as strange shadow-like presences seemed to rise and fall, gather, and regroup around the tree…..
All the leaves fell from the tree.
The leaves were silver. One beautiful flower remained, red against a backdrop of black-and-white.
Then all the leaves flew back onto the tree. The single flower slowly dropped off, lazily, seeming to pick up invisible drafts or buoyed by some inner force loop-de-looping and whizzing back-and-forth before settling down into meadow-grasses which sprang up magically on the ground.
Sydney picked up the flower, which seemed to pulse with energy; as if only the flower existed, and nothing else-in-the-world.
A single golden teardrop or dewdrop rolled out of the flower, fell onto the floor, and shattered into a million crystalline fragments which together formed into the shape of Colin’s face congealed – like liquid mercury – rushing from the flower, and seeming to scream silently – mouth agape, Colin’s eyes were miniature suns.
Sydney could swear Sydney heard in Sydney’s mind, Dad, I’m waiting for you… Mom’s going to come, too, but you have to BELIEVE, dad, or else you won’t find us. BELIEVE….
The crystalline fragments all dropped to the floor, and sizzled as if boiling, disappearing into misty steam rivulets seemingly composed of billions of tiny droplets, which swirled throughout the room – before disappearing into another dimension.
Sydney strode to the middle of the garden, and picked up the flower, which had begun to writh and twist, as if dying, then suddenly stopped, and the flower withered, before the flower turned to ashes.
Sydney traced the ashes with Sydney’s finger… writing in the dirt…. Colin…. Colin…. I believe. I’ll find you, over-and-over; until there were no more ashes.
Years later, after Sydney and Evelyn had settled down. (Sydney became a lot more receptive to Evelyn’s dreams – especially the Big Ones, and Sydney and Evelyn even started Making Love again.) A lot of pictures of Colin, Colin’s stories, art-projects, ended up in places in the house…. Colin’s Facebook page even got turned into a permanent monument/shrine to Colin.
At one of the parties that Sydney and Evelyn hosted guests would often comment on a prominent picture that hung near the entrance to their home in the Berkeley Hills; of that rather strange cherry-blossom tree in the middle of their interior-garden. Sydney had snapped a photo of the tree with a single flower on the grass. in between the mosaic design stepping stones next to the stream …
That’s strange, how this flower is just so quiescent…. glimmering, so lovely…. all by it’s flower-self, and this tree.. it has such a – presence… people would say… and what does this mean? BELIEVE was carved and burnt into a wood plaque beneath the picture.
Ahhhh…. that picture…. Sydney would say stroking Sydney’s beard. Why, there’s a whole story to that picture. You wouldn’t believe it.
Humor us, people would say.
Well, maybe you would, I’ll tell you the story, sometimes.
Evelyn and Sydney bade the guests goodbye and closed the door to go to sleep; Colin’s Spirit with them, if you looked, you could almost see Colin besides Evelyn and Sydney.
The book of the universe:
From beyond-the-door, Sydney and the relatives and the dead see all this; There are highways, and intersections of the dead, and the living, and this is all written in the book. All the stories, of everyone, are in the book. And all the stories together make up the leaves on the story-tree.
And the Dead Wait. the Dead-tell-no-tales. Their stories are written-in-blood; and their lives tattoo – the Wild Ones of the Dream-Sea.. whose travails criss-cross the dimensions.
Copyright April 2010 Todd Akira Morikawa iTouch ART DeSigN