Songwriters: Maynard James Keenan, Adam Jones, Danny Carey, Justin Chancellor
Original Release: Lateralus
Definitive Version: None
A lot of my multisong selections are two songs that have been joined inextricably via the editing process, but some merely consist of a musical intro to the real song. That’s the case with this song. Eon Blue Apocalypse, of course, is nothing more than a solo guitar interlude that precedes The Patient. You could make a case that they are separate enough to be two songs, I suppose. On my iTunes playlist, I have it as one, just called The Patient.
This is an evocative song for me. When I hear the haunting vocal fugue at the beginning, it takes me back to my solo apartment in the summer of 2001, right after Debbie and I broke up. I can smell the smothering loneliness I felt as well as the snap of realization that the life I had lived for the past 4 years was gone forever. Or maybe it was just the fresh paint that took months to finally dissipate.
But it also was the scent of renewal. I suppose I could have given in to the urge to withdraw like Mom had when she reached a similar life crossroads at about the same age, but I didn’t. Instead, I did what most people do when faced with irrevocable change not of their making—I adapted to the new conditions. One adaptation was my renewal with my Dad’s side of the family.
As I mentioned, The Rift had begun to be mended more than a year before Debbie and I broke up. Dad and Laura were more or less OK with us being together—we even saw them as a couple a few times before the split. But The Rift was closed in summer 2001.
It wasn’t a whole lot of fun in May when I had to go over to their house and give them the news that Debbie and I were splitting. I was more or less admitting that they had been right—we weren’t right for each other. I didn’t feel as though that was what I was doing per se. Instead, I was telling them that I was going to have a new address and why I was going to have a new address.
They were properly sympathetic, and when I moved into my new apartment, Dad came over around my birthday to help me assemble my new entertainment center. That marked the first time we had done some activity together, just us, since, well, I couldn’t tell you when—maybe when we had lunch and I told him about Debbie and I getting together in 1994.
A short while later, Dad invited me to go to Torch Lake with him for the weekend. This was back when Laura and the kids spent the summer there, and he was commuting every weekend—leaving Friday and coming back Sunday—so he could work. I readily agreed.
He wanted to take off early on a Saturday with a family friend who had to stay Friday night in Columbus, so I spent the night at his house in the guest room. That was the first time I had spent the night in Dad’s house in Columbus—the second house in which he’d lived since the last time—since I moved back from Flint in 1994.
We left at the crack of dawn the next day, and I was on my way to Torch Lake for the first time since 1995—just before Debbie and I moved in together.
I was greeted warmly upon my arrival—I hadn’t seen these relatives since Scott’s wedding in 1996—and it was strange to go from being the Black Sheep to the Guest of Honor. It was all superficial, though, because no one acknowledged the life change that brought about my return, until the last day I was there.
I had met Beth, my grandfather’s wife, maybe two or three times before this, and we certainly had no relationship other than I was her husband’s grandson who was never around. (She knew why.) But at the yacht club, where I hadn’t been since 1994, she went out of her way to say she was very sorry for my loss, as she put it, and she encouraged me to not give up hope—things will get better.
She didn’t have to say that, but I genuinely was touched by her expression of sympathy. At that moment, my rehabilitation with the family was complete.