Yesterday, Dad and Sonja and Nathan came over to Racine to see the RTG’s production of “Gypsy”- and it was my first chance to see Nathan since the day after his surgery in Indianapolis. . . and my first chance to see the stitches in his head. (When I left Indianapolis, Nate’s head was still wrapped.) I sort of knew what the stitches would look like but that still didn’t begin to prepare me for the moment when I actually laid eyes on them. It drove home with almost painful potency what happened to my little brother on that operating table- and it made me marvel all the more that we are blessed with such an amazing capacity for recovery and healing.
My former voice student Nick Barootian underwent surgery that was actually more complicated than Nathan’s because a small part of his brain – about the size of a small marshmallow- was actually removed from his brain. When I first visited him at Froederdt Hospital a couple of days after the surgery, I did not know what to expect. . . how well he would be able to communicate, how vibrant his personality would be, etc. When I walked into his hospital room, a huge smile erupted on Nick’s face (I wondered if he would even recognize me or be able to convey that recognition.) And when I asked him how we was doing, he replied “. . . Better. . . Now.!” It took a second for the words to come out, but he was much more able to both understand and speak words than right after the surgery. And two days later, when I walked in and asked him how he was, his answer was to pick up a magazine next to him which his aunt had brought. . . and he read aloud one of headlines on the cover: “Six Weeks to a Slimmer You.” He read those word quite smoothly and strongly – and with such a sense of pride, as though he had just recited the periodic tables by memory. And now, a couple of years later, you would absolutely never know that Nick had undergone such a surgery.
Nathan’s surgery did not involve anything like that – something was implanted on his brain, and nothing was removed – but still . . . to have one’s head opened up like that is mind-boggling to me. And it’s a rather graphic reminder that life confronts us with tough stuff, sometimes- which can leave behind some tough scars. I am just so proud of Nathan for be willing to undergo this experimental procedure and to participate in this two year project. A lot of people would have not had the courage. And as I look at these stitches one more time (they’re removed later this week) my admiration only grows.