Arbor Heights, Seattle, Washington
Wednesday, November 25, 2020
An Ode to Dr. Larry Brooks
Fractal geometry, way beyond my comprehension, refers to how a part of an object mirrors its larger version.
In essence, then, a leaf predicts the form of a tree.
A rock predicts the shape of a mountain.
I offer one story, one fractal, as a symbol of the life of Larry Brooks, PhD.
A friend, and a fellow psychologist, Larry lost his life in a tragic if absurd manner earlier this year.
I offer an angle, perspective, viewpoint—a fractal—representative of Larry’s character.
Friends and family will gather in early December to memorialize him.
I’d go, but I’ll be out of town then, feebly celebrating the holiday season.
I’m hoping this fractal about Larry will add a memory to the dream of his existence.
Also, perhaps, it will remind readers of the preciousness of our lives.
Larry, who I’d heard of through the grapevine because he practiced in Glendale, near me in Pasadena, reached out to me after my first encounter with endocarditis in 2008. I’d had the bacterial infection, eroding my aortic valve which required surgical replacement in July 2008.
Larry had a similar medical misadventure a few years earlier.
We became fast friends, bound by the heart.
Rather proudly, we’d both taken good enough care of ourselves to avoid a heart attack.
We were blameless.
Endocarditis is like getting injured in an earthquake, we told one another.
Heroin addicts contract endocarditis, not successful, middle-aged white guys.
We don’t put needles into our arms.
Larry and I had lunch a few times.
He shared his interest in social dreaming.
Larry believed our dreams blur into the interpersonal, even the transpersonal.
Not my interest but, alas, the magical idea certainly captured him.
We drifted apart due to such our living generally divergent, busy lives.
At some point, Larry and I had a completely ridiculous argument, traceable mostly to my own anger problems. I had a stupid fight about the SGVPA. What that is doesn’t matter. Larry failed to show up for a meeting with its leaders, intended to resolve the conflict. I felt pissed off.
True to who he was, Larry owned his avoiding the meeting. He apologized, in his typically non-defensive manner. Arguments troubled him, he said. He was tired out by conflict.
We had a break-up lunch, at Stoney Pointe, in Pasadena.
However, we never really broke-up.
After that ridiculous disruption, our meetings became less frequent.
On some astral level, though, the friendship remained.
Larry ran supervision groups, provided psychotherapy, and dove deeper into his interest in social dreaming. He was an avid practitioner of relational psychoanalysis.
In November 2018, when my prosthetic aortic valve became infected, which would require another surgery, Larry unexpectedly called me.
He told me he heard about my second endocarditis/surgery “through the grapevine.”
I was frightened, of course. In a second open-heart procedure, the mortality rate leaps from three to 15 percent. It’s tough to dig through the scar tissue, the thoracic surgeon unemotionally told me.
Here on the phone was Larry Brooks, that sensitive man, that man into dreams, telling me he’d had a second cardiac surgery just the July before.
He offered to take me to lunch.
That’s the kind of man Larry was.
Here’s this old friend, now out of touch, contacting me because his old friend faced a medical misadventure like his.
Larry wished to share his experiences, to offer reassurance.
And so Larry drove his hybrid automobile out to Glendale. He picked me up at my home, mid-day on a Saturday. We drove to La Cabanita for Mexican food.
I’m pretty sure we shared something with mole sauce.
We probably shared a beer as well.
We talked for hours.
Larry told me of his second cardiac surgery experience. It involved replacing his mitral valve. “It won’t be as bad as you think,” he assured me, describing his slow road to complete recovery.
Anyone could feel the love and care emanating from this man, now in his late 60s.
The people sitting near us, the waiters, the people walking on the sidewalk, those inhabiting the greater Los Angeles area, felt the vibe.
It was just pure kindness, pure love.
It involved no quid pro quo.
Naturally, and of course, I never imagined that would be the last time I saw Larry Brooks.
After my second surgery, which went well, Larry and I shared a few texts.
Then, our roads diverged again.
Earlier this year, in March I think, Larry Brooks was killed by a speeding car.
Apparently, he was taking a mid-day walk near his Glendale office. Some kid in a Lamborghini raced through an intersection, killing Larry instantly.
At that moment, Larry was not a somebody, not a successful, brilliant psychologist and family man.
He was just a guy walking across a street.
Larry had no clue what was about to happen, that his existence would be snuffed, extinguished, erased, ended.
The kid in the speeding Lamborghini was arrested, charged with involuntary manslaughter.
It felt somehow just, even good, to hear of his arrest.
However, that kids life has probably become a disaster now.
Is that fair?
Meanwhile, this kind man, Larry Brooks, who managed to maintain a long term marriage, rear two children, and help hundreds of hurt souls, is gone.
Carl Jung brilliantly believed that what we consider our selves, our egos, are pure fiction.
We live in dreams.
Larry would readily agree.
Larry’s death shifted the dream world.
It left a gap, an absence, a lack.
It will never be filled.
Because there was only ONE Larry Brooks, PhD.
And his life, not only representing kindness, also symbolizes the precious, unique, treasure of this one and only life we have.
There was Larry, healthy, thriving survivor of two open-heart surgeries, just taking a walk.
Just crossing a street.
His expiration date came.
It seems to have been painless.
Yet, it was his end, the end of that unique fiction.
What a reminder to celebrate, to cherish, the unfolding, mysterious life we live.
For sure, Larry would want us all to know that.
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