I called Scarlett over to tell her...
I called Scarlett over to tell her about her Dr. Fless. She needed a hug and said, “I liked him so much.”
That was a good doctor. He actually cared. I cringe when all the online articles immediately feel the need to tell us about his notorious kid.
Many times Dr. Paul Fleiss would meet us at his office at zero dark thirty of any holiday weekend and keep tabs of Scarlett’s tricky condition. She would develop scary asthma so fast and her oxymeter numbers would be so bad that conventional advice would have had you driving straight to the hospital.
She was two and I was shooting Desperate Housewives and had to leave her at the hospital with Misti, Elizabeth Oliveros and Evelyn Parra to go to work. The hospital wouldn’t let Scarlett play with any of the toys because even though we all knew it was asthma it was technically an undiagnosed lung illness because she hadn’t had three separate incidents. Those were the hospital rules. Scarlett saw the room of toys and was pitching a fit to make them her own. And her rage made the asthma worse, and then they wanted an IV and that made things even more unbearably stressful. I hated the hospital.
So I left someone there at Cedars Sinai with her, sent someone else to Target to buy new things because that’s what you do, and a third someone to our house to collect favorite things then I went to work not knowing if she’d be released that day. All the while I was taking 16 phone calls from Kirk working in NY who was frantic for new information on his hospitalized baby.
During the next few years I would call him and tell him her numbers and say, “Meet me at the office, I’ll be there as soon as I get dressed.” And he’d come and give her care and me advice. And we’d make conversation while the horrible sound of the nebulizer puffed out its’ magical modern medicinal thing.
It just so horribly happened that a few weeks earlier Dr. Fleiss had lost his adult son in a drowning accident off the coast of Kona. The loss was fresh and painful and I noticed how he’d aged a decade since I’d last seen him. HIs shoulders carried a yoke of heartache. The burden of having lost a child.
"I’m so sorry." I said. And I touched his shoulder. I asked if there was anything I could do? Errands or anything I could buy that could bring him a thimble full of joy. He quickly said, "Coffee..I like coffee." Then he told me what kind. What brand. Which kind of bean. And then asked me to bring the whole bean because he liked to grind it himself." Then he smiled. And I brought it, the coffee, the next day. And here today I’m having my coffee and thinking of him with a lump in my throat that won’t go away.
Here’s to you, Dr. Fleiss. And thanks for telling me I was a great Mom. That was extra nice. LIke you. RIP.