Sunday, August 30, 2009

Scrubbing those memories

The last couple of evenings my friend Nathan and I have been spending the evenings, after we put the boys to bed, out in the courtyard, with a cold drink in hand, talking about things from more than twenty years ago.

Nathan and I met some 22 years ago at a pediatric oncology unit. We have a lot of things we can only talk about with others who went through these things with us. There are things that only people who share a similar experience with us. So it's the four of us in the dark courtyard: Nathan, Kevin, Efi and I talking the cancer out of our minds.

Sooner or later someone will bring something else up, and then we go off on tangents, ("Do you guys remember when Miss Piggie was on Scrubs?" or "The rabbit Seán has? Yeah, it had a gazillion bunnies.") and we cope and truly, truly rejoice in the simple fact that we are alive. And that is such a lovely thing to rejoice in!

Today all but one of the boys went to Tzfat. Matthew stayed home with a "stomach ache" that mysteriously disappeared about 5 minutes after his dad and the others were out the door. The mean parent IKép hozzáadása am I asked him if he wanted me to text them to turn back for him. You should have seen his face as he mouthed "NO way!" It was too funny. So this morning was spent in the kiddie pool and on the balcony reading Pöttyös Panni. He is halfway done with the one about Panni starting school. Since the twins are starting kitah alef (first grade--in Israel gan is not part of the school system like kindergarten in the States, so they are just starting school, like Panni in the book) this is the most revelant book to him. Forget that it was written in the 50s (I think), and it is full of Soviet-Hungarian friendship, but most everything Panni is experiencing, thinking and feeling is the same as what Matthew does. We have the whole series and the kids have been able to read them on their own for about a year now.

After lunch and a short nap Matthew went and popped [scrubs] season 8 in the DVD player (courtesy of Nathan andMicah) and we watched it together as I was tinkering with a website online. It was a few weeks ago that I last watched the final scenes of the show and it is one of Matthew's favorite ones. This is one scene that he loves and it makes him happy, because JD is happy in his fantasy.

Most of the time when watching [scrubs] my kids get some of the jokes. Others go over their heads, and they don't miss them. They understand more of the show than I oroginally thought they would, but then there are a lot of things that are discussed in our home a lot, like love, life, death, intimacy and relationships. I just can't keep my kids sheltered from the world. The thing is, at their age they see things a lot more clearly than us, adults.

As we were watching the last episode, my son announced that he wanted a High School Musical 3 binder for school. I have to admit it left me speechless: I didn't even know my kids had seen High School Musical 3! Not having that knowledge made me feel way worse than letting my kids watch [scrubs] or CSI. I guess it could have been worse: he could have wanted a Hannah Montana or Jonas Brothers one. So I could consider myself lucky. But I had to stop this HSM3 fanboyness--what's next, a sparkling Twilight backpack? So I decided to bribe him with some home made [scrubs] binder. It only took a little convincing and throwing a Grissom picture in to add to the offer to get HSM3 out of his potential school bag.

Now, to make the full circle back to the conversations mentioned at the beginning of this post: a lot of these conversations are about the loss of people we met and became friends with during chemo and other treatments. There were a lot of them. It was back in the 80s: mortality was somewhat higher back then. As Matthew re-watched the last episode of the show again, I was YouTube surfing, watching and re-watching clips from my two other favourite episodes: My Lunch and My Screw Up.

Both of these deal with death. Both of them are really sad, and they make me sad, but in a cathartic way. I can't really express the way they make me feel. Other than the second one, My Screw Up--especially the scene I embedded here--makes me remember my friend Stuart and I want to always, always remember him.

As I was watching the video once again while writing this entry Nathan, Kevin and Efi ended up sitting down next to me, watching it with me. It was cheesy. It was cliché. But it was true:
But in the end, the most important thing to accept, is that no matter how alone you feel, how painful it may be, with the help of those around you, you'll get through this too.


  1. Great post, Hevel! it brought tears to my eyes...
    Good luck to the twins on their first day of school!

  2. They are so super excited! Tonight there is a meeting in their school and then right after at Craig's school. Everyone is really excited about it.

  3. i've always imagined that working in the medical field would be difficult. making connections with people that you know may not make it to the end of the week must be challenging. it's good to know that you have great friends to help you process your grief and loss.

  4. For a while I was very interested in medicine and wanted to go to medical school. Then i decided against it based on my own experiences. The only thing I could have emotionally handled was being locked away in some lab.



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