Roger Ebert: The Essential Man
Yes, that is, indeed, Roger Ebert — at 67, and after countless surgeries that cut out more and more of his body to try and salvage his face, which was ravaged by thyroid (and later, salivary gland) cancer. If you haven’t yet read this warm, touching, endearing profile of him by Chris Jones in Esquire, I urge you to do so; it’s easily worth 15 or 20 minutes of your time. I would say I feel sorry for the man, but he says he is happy, and it really does seem true.
Here’s an excerpt:
Ebert’s dreams are happier. Never yet a dream where I can’t talk, he writes on another Post-it note, peeling it off the top of the blue stack. Sometimes I discover — oh, I see! I CAN talk! I just forget to do it.
In his dreams, his voice has never left. In his dreams, he can get out everything he didn’t get out during his waking hours: the thoughts that get trapped in paperless corners, the jokes he wanted to tell, the nuanced stories he can’t quite relate. In his dreams, he yells and chatters and whispers and exclaims. In his dreams, he’s never had cancer. In his dreams, he is whole.
These things come to us, they don’t come from us, he writes about his cancer, about sickness, on another Post-it note. Dreams come from us.