Monday, January 16, 2012

Guest Post: The Solidarity Project

This next guest post is from an accidental Thunder Stealer. No, not the cancerous kind, but the kind that has a life so impressive, he accidentally steals everyone else's thunder. To quote his best friend's father: "He's the kind of guy that comes out of the womb, steps in shit once, and doesn't step in shit again for the rest of his life."

His life is that good.

He's the guy that decides to dedicate a year of his life volunteering at food banks and improving national parks in AmeriCorps while the rest of his friends are dedicating their time improving their beer pong skills in college. When he does go to college, he receives straight As, but no one is aware of this until graduation when he receives several academic awards. This is a shock to people not because his intelligence isn't obvious (it is), but because he is so outgoing and fun, no one can imagine being brilliant in both social situations and the classroom.

And did I mention his good looks? And that he's nice? Talk about stealing everyone's thunder and winning the lottery of life!

He's the guy that could have made a fortune working at any company in the world, but chose a non profit fellowship in Detroit. And then could have moved on to other positions and other cities, but stayed.

He is the guy that then somehow managed to convince a goddess to not only move to Detroit, but to marry him! And let me tell you, this girl is a catch!

I should know. That goddess is me.

So this guest post is from The Hubby. The guy who has the perfect life and then his wife, me, goes and steps in shit.

Hubby here: Oh hey everyone.
Where oh where to begin?
I guess here: imagine this. Imagine you’re in a hospital room. Imagine the one person you love more than any is holding your hand. Imagine the one person you’ve chosen for all time is told the following words: “We’re sorry, but your tests confirm: You. Have. Cancer.”
Imagine that.
Now, I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time. No, not that one in the hospital, but this one.  Since our little Hodgy gave birth to our ever sassy and even more fine Thunder Stealer, I’ve sat in awe at how liberating a little F*Bomb can be for sharing the depth of how we’re feeling. And especially for sharing really sh***y F***ing news.
Well, a little about me then.  First, for those who don’t know me, suffice it to say that I’ve long thought I was the one who wore The Thunder in our family. (What a Fool!)
See, I care a whole sh**-ton about “serious things.” Well, yeah, serious thinks like social justice and the American dream (shameless I know, but you’re famous love!). I truly believe these things, and other winners like “constructive problem solving” and community development, and race relations in America remain some of the world’s biggest BFDs. I make no apology about that.  But this experience has really helped me realize how at times I mistook passion for serious things for taking myself too seriously.
So, here’s a tip. If you think you’re somebody, then you’re just thinking too hard. And, if you’re looking for anything to put what really matters into sharp relief, imagine this: You have cancer, or worse: She has Cancer.
But enough about me!
The point is this, F*Bombs help us cope. Being sassy helps one to own the moment. Taking ourselves too seriously (Hubby’s problem) or feeling like we’re victims pose the real risks to actually living life the way we’d hope we can live it.
So, we’ll get to my moment soon enough.
But I am going to take this chance to share my thoughts on my Thunder Stealer’s Cancer, little Hodgy, The Decision, and ultimately why I see my role as trying to embody solidarity for my wife. Whether near or far, that is my job. My job is the Solidarity Project.
See, when you’re as in love as we are you eventually just begin to wonder: when? When will this all be challenged? Then you wonder: what? What will it be? Then you wonder: how? How will we respond?
So, as a man. As Her husband. How am I supposed to respond?
Honestly, it’s been extremely hard on me. I could pretend it’s not. I could write F***ing sonnets or something instead. But no sonnet could replace the rage I’ve felt, the fear seeping inside me, or the triumph of love I’ve witnessed already. I don’t hide that it’s been hard, but I’m not too good at being un-sassy and un-stoic myself about the raw terror that creeps up sometimes: what if this is it?
Drama queen, I know.
But, the loneliness—of walking into our eerily silent and pitch black home the other night after spending the day carting Puppy around to daycare like some newly minted single father—that feeling makes you realize how fragile any of this can be. That moment shook me. I felt shocked. For almost every day for 6 years I’ve come home to our perfect little life. To Puppy. To noise and lights. And to Her.
And I’d only taken her to the airport that morning.
Literally 7 weeks and 12 hours earlier I woke up alone after her night in the hospital when we were trying to diagnose her disease. As morbid and twisted as it sounds, I was in the shower and, for the first time since knowing each other, this thought came to my mind: what would you say at her funeral?
(And it was at that moment that I understood where most divorces must start. Seriously, this question should seal the deal on whether you’re in for life or not: what would you say at their funeral? I know, twisted. But I literally laughed out loud!)
And then it hit me: My Love, she knows how to live better than anyone else I know. She’s joy. She believes in Santa. She’s adventurous. She’s magical. She’s unconventional. She believes in love stories. She’s just imperfect enough to make me feel worthy as a man. She’s Thunder. She’s everything I want and more than I ever imagined was possible.
It was then that I understood my job. Help her live through this the way she needs, no matter what.
No matter what?
No matter what.
Whoa, people, trust me, that’s F***ing hard to do!
See, the truth is, The Decision was the only thing I knew had to be hers and hers alone. I had an opinion I shared freely, her Mom had hers, and countless others have theirs. But, if I know anything about my love, it’s this: when she decides, there is no doubt.
When she decides, there is no doubt.
Now, it takes balls to tact away from the medical community for an integrative treatment center 2,000 miles from your home without any insurance to support your very expensive therapies. But I think even if she’d told me she was just going to dance and sing and love and just see what happens; even if she’d said I’m going to do 5,000 jumping jacks a day to bounce the Little Hodgy out; hell, even if she’d said I’m not doing anything, I would have ultimately supported her.
I support her because you know what? It takes balls to be with a man like me in a city like ours and to live life like you’re the only one in the world that really gets it. I support her because, what can I say, that’s my girl!
So, my job? From 2,000 miles away? Simple: prepare our home, our life and our future for when she gets home. Clean out the fridge; learn to prepare meals she’ll need. Take care of myself – exercise, eat and live exactly like you’re going to need to when she gets home. Take Puppy to Daycare. Spend less. Save more.
And, of course, do the F***ing dishes!
That’s the Solidarity Project.
Aurora Morales once wrote: "Solidarity is not a matter of altruism … [it comes] from the recognition that, like it or not, our liberation is bound up with that of every other being on the planet."
I’d say Solidarity is a way to love.
Solidarity: support her decision. Treat her like every day is the day you’re going to propose to her. Commit to her health. Commit to your health. Commit to your whole future together.
And trust. Trust that although she’s away right now and it’s totally F***ing scary and just plain tough to handle, that she decided.  And remember to trust her ability to live better than anyone else I know. And remember to trust the core truth about her: When she decides, there is no doubt.
And remember the awe you felt the first time she penned those beautiful words and liberated herself from the psychological hold Cancer or anything like it can have.
And she did it in a matter of hours … she told Cancer to “F*** Off” only a few short hours after it announced its official arrival. She stole Cancer’s thunder for the entire world to see and, in that moment, she was as beautiful as any (and every) other moment I’d ever seen.
That moment told me everything I needed to know about Little Hodgy. It told me this was a gift of sorts, a chance to somehow love each other even more deeply and to live even more fully together.
Little Hodgy. Cancer. The Decision. They’re all a chance to let go of living in fear. They’re also a gift to me. They offer me my chance to stop taking myself too seriously because, you know what, it’s F***ing real: what if this is it?
Ok, I’m ready now. I’m ready for my moment.
But Baby, I’m not letting Cancer steal this thunder.
Screw Cancer.
I Fucking Love You.


  1. Well said Brad! Fuck Cancer! Go Dana!

  2. Love it, Brad. Love you, Dana. We hope there's some way we can help! We're thinking of you and wishing you the very best. -Patrick & Whitney

  3. This made me cry, and I can only hope that Dave loves me as much as you love Dana, but I don't know if he could ever write it so beautifully! What a horrible decision to have to make, but you both are facing it with grace and courage. Jumping jacks might do something as well ;) Love you both, lovely love letter Brad!