I met The Man

I met The Man
by Scott Lew

We ambushed him
 after a lecture
 in the basement of an auditorium
 at Cal Tech
My wife
 made my meeting him
 her mission
 after I got diagnosed
Stephen Hawking
 who I said
 beat ALS
 with his mind
She wanted me to be inspired
 in the presence
 of this genius

I remember the life in his eyes
 behind a frozen mask
His face
 unable to move
His expression
 impossible to discern

I told him
 how much I enjoyed his presentation
But even though I’d gotten an “A”
 in college Astronomy
 I barely understood half of it
It took him several minutes
 to type with blinks of his eyes
“Hello. Thank you for coming to my lecture.”
All that effort
 for the most simple greeting
He had to climb walls of ice
 that encased him
 just to say “Hi”
I thought
Writing one of his books
 must be like running
 an Iron Man marathon
This guy has tremendous patience
 and willpower
He was small and twisted
 with zero musculature
 but he was rugged tough

I felt a brief connection
 when I told The Man
 I wanted to be him
 not in science
 but in Hollywood
And even though he couldn’t smile
 I felt him

His wife took my hand
 which at the time
 I could still move
 but not lift
She looked down at me
 in my wheelchair
And said
“It’s great to meet someone
 at the beginning of their journey.”

I looked at The Man
 and realized
Even though I’d lost so much
I still had a long
 long way to go

8 years later
I see photos of myself
 where I thought I was smiling
 but I’m blank-faced
I mouth simple words
 and people recoil
Because my frozen face
 makes me look
 angry or alarmed
When I’m excited
 I look bored
When I’m in pain
 I look placid
But the ice has not yet
 fully set
I can still move my mouth
 a bit
 turn my neck
 furrow my eyebrows
 click my tongue
 that fade
 with each
 passing day

I think back
 to those few inspirational moments
 when I met The Man
 behind that frozen mask
And saw my future
 if I can just hang on
 and be rugged tough
 as him

1 Comment

Filed under ALS, ALS Poetry, Lou Gehrig's Disease, Poetry, Scott Lew, Stephen Hawking, Stephen Hawking ALS

One response to “I met The Man

  1. Joy Berks

    people like you and Stephen Hawkings are great examples of courage and wonderful examples for the rest of us. Keep up the fight and keep going forward.

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