I was walking home from high school, and I bumped into one of my mother’s friends. She said there was a surprise waiting for me at home, and that I would be very happy. I walked into my apartment, and my dad was there – back from the hospital after weeks. It’s funny how much joy you can find in something suspected. I had hunch that the surprise was my father, but I ran into his arms like a five year old all of the same. I don’t remember how I spent the rest of the afternoon, but at some point we decided to watch Kill Bill I. I had never seen it. After realizing that this movie was not on demand, my rather immobile father sent me to Barnes and Noble with money for the DVD. I hurried back home, and we popped in the disk. We watched until the scene where one of the assassins is walking down the hallway of a hospital, dressed as a nurse. The character is Elle Driver, and she’s whistling the suite to “Twisted Nerve.”
I told my dad that the movie was great, but I wanted to take a nap and finish it later. I was afraid that he would think I didn’t like the film, but I was so tired those days, between my high school, and my dad’s cancer. He agreed to put it on pause, and we both fell asleep in the living room. We slept into the night; I think the whole family ended up cuddling in the Murphy bed. Around three in the morning, my mom woke me up. My dad’s liver had leaked, and there was yellow bile all over the bed. My dad was going back to the hospital, and I was going back to sleep in my room. Before he left, he said, “I promise I’ll be back soon.” The next day, I finished Kill Bill on my own. A week later, my dad died. He never ended up coming back from the hospital. To this day, when I listen to “Twisted Nerve,” I envision someone walking down the hallway of a hospital. Except, instead of Daryl Hannah in an eye patch and nurse outfit, it’s me, going to visit my dad in one of the endless rooms in Sloan and Kettering. The song makes me cry.
It’s hard to tell this story to people. It feels so vivid, thus I feel wrong to cut it short. However, when I do it justice in-person, it makes the listener uncomfortable. I think that part of them wants to cry, and the other part just wants to stop listening. This is one of my more painful memories. Maybe it’s the ironic foreshadowing in that fateful scene in Kill Bill, maybe it’s the cliché bit: my daddy promised to come back and he didn’t. Either way, it’s a complicated one. I mean, it sits right in the middle of the Venn Diagram, with one circle titled “things you must hear to understand my life”, and the other titled “private things I don’t like to share.”
That’s actually why I wrote this piece. I am putting on the Internet, so those who want to know can read it, and then they can cry in the privacy of their own homes. Just like me.