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Today, I laid on the operating table, awake, with parts of my back asleep. Those parts were removed and I saw Doctor Perez place them on the tray in front of me, along with bloody gauze, turning brown in the open air.

The first time I'd been here I asked him what he did. He laughed and told me was a dermatologist.

"No." I said, "What do you do? Everyone has something they do and it isn't always what they do for a living. So is this it?"
"Yah. This is what I wanted to do, and I get to do it every day."
"I hope you know how lucky you are."

So time passed and he worked on me and I worked on him and the nurses, somehow turning every excision into a party. They asked me what I did, and I told them I compose. They asked if I'd written anything they could hear. I balked but after a while my mother came with me to drive me home and mentioned that the premiere of my first symphony was out in her car, and that next time she would bring a boombox so Dr. Perez and his merry band of helpers could listen to what I done did.

So today, as I smelled my own burning flesh in the air and closed my eyes and thought

I don't know if I can handle three more months of this

the people responsible for my pain and salvation listened to my music. They all thought of different things at different times: church, war, movie soundtracks, their mothers, and so forth. Each movement insipired more comment and a certain degree of awe, I think. I know it isn't all that great but I'm in awe of Dr. Perez every time he cuts out a part of my body like it's nothing; and I guess to him, it isn't.

So the piece ends and he's sewing me up, giving me my two hundredth stitch in two months. He asks why I wrote the symphony. I told him I wrote it for a friend of mine that committed suicide when I was sixteen. I thought it was amusing when he asked if it was played at the memorial service because the damn thing had taken me a year and a half to write, being my first major work.

I told him that it had been premiered two years after he had died.

He very innocently asked, "Did people remember what had happened?"

It was only then that it occured to me that possibly, I had hurt other people while healing myself. That I had hurt while I was healing.
I said "Yeah. In some good ways and some bad ways, yeah they did."

I'm sitting here now, and I hurt as I'm healing.
Now I understand why Dr. Perez wanted to do what he does.

In a way, we do the same thing.

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