1/12/2007 – Radiation Journal - part 4
15days of whole brain radiation

Over a bagel, before treatment, I tell Sarah that my interest in the visual came from an emotional moment when I wandered into the MFA twenty years ago after she had banished me from her life. I was now 20 years past the divorce that left me in a joint custody arrangement for raising Sarah and her sister Julia. .  “I don’t want to be in contact with you.  You make me feel bad about myself,” she said. “We shouldn’t see each other for a while.” I took my sorrow to the late 19th century paintings at the MFA and found seascapes and snowstorms to be among.  Sarah says she doesn’t remember saying this to me.  She recalls how something her father said hurt her in that punch-to-the- stomach way; She says he probably doesn’t remember saying it either. We have never talked about that time til now, when I admire her wholeheartedly. To walk the hospital corridors with Sarah, to encounter, accompanied, other patients, doctors, and technicians changes my sense of myself from a patient dependent on their care, to a strider – with personal authority;  I put on her friendly guise and adopt her gait. 

She points out the sparrows on a bush as we walk back to the hospital after a bagel; remembers her walks through the Emerald Necklace when she lived in Brookline and worked in Boston. She drove all over Boston as a courier for a film company.
I find she knows her way around.


My daughter Julia cuts off the rest of my hair with the buzzing clippers, the same one she uses for her bald husband. The grandsons watch and we all laugh. Mason, eldest, asks for one more look before I put my cap on. He phones later to ask what my sickness is. I tell him the category name, cancer, and that it covers many things. He wants to know what kind I have. Are they treating it? Of course I say – that’s why my hair fell out. He seems satisfied.

Wig shop today with Julia and the boys; I photograph them pushing each other around in the barber chair; they’re very into the game.

Sarah comes with me for the last days of treatment, when I don’t trust myself to drive. She gives me her ‘woe-is-me’ song, her ‘hoy yoy’ and asks if I have a song like that.  As we approach the gate to exit the garage, the recorded woman’s voice says again: Please insert yer ticket with the stripe facing up and to the right.  She had to audition for that.

We drive home, over the Science Bridge – Highland to Central to Summer to Craigie to Elm and the parking lot at Star where we take pictures, me doffing the cancer cap to smile baldly up into her lens to celebrate surviving..  \

radiation journal

12/26/2006 - 1/18/2007


part 1

part 2

part 3


part 4