Frederic C. Kaplan: Still Alive
Still Alive, oil on canvas painting by Collective Member Frederic C. Kaplan. H 20" x W 52"
In the summer of 2012 I realized I was in the process of dying. I was frequently tired and lacked energy. My skin was oddly pale and grew more ashen week after week as I became increasingly tired and less energetic. There were times I could hardly breathe as I struggled to gulp in more air to fill my lungs, which would never fill. During a particularly alarming night, I finally went to the hospital.
There I learned my heart was in distress. Further tests revealed I had had a heart attack and required surgery. I resisted, but was finally convinced when told I would not see my daughter graduate college if I refused or delayed.
As I anticipated the surgery over the course of several weeks, I was concerned for my family and fearful for myself, certain I wouldn’t survive. On the day surgery was scheduled, hospital staff prepped me, wrapping me in a surgical gown, washing and sterilizing my flesh, and injecting IV tubes into my arms. As I slowly drifted into stupor, I wondered whether I would ever awaken. Then there was…nothing.
Then there was…blue light. I was in a bed and, when I awoke, the first thing I saw was the blue light streaming gloriously in through the window of my hospital room. I knew then that I was Still Alive.
Still Alive is my chronicle of that experience and my feelings throughout. At left is a cracked shell, a metaphor for my damaged heart. The large cloud represents the crushing pressure on my lungs from the accumulation of fluids that my weakened heart was unable to carry away. Dark, ugly, bilious greens and muddy browns reflect the darkness of the ugly depression into which I had descended as I anticipated surgery. And amid it all is the flash of blue window light that announced to me that I was Still Alive.