I've known his wife for years, I found her in blogland. It was a rarity, back then - to find another Aussie blogger. A Sydney one at that! Vee and I were trying to fall pregnant, writing about our IVF and how tricky it was. In March 2008, her husband Alex was diagnosed with cancer. I felt sick for her. Two months later, my husband Dave was diagnosed with cancer. She felt sick for me.
Today, the 11th May, marks one year since her husband Alex passed away. Their beautiful son turned one a few months ago. Vee has been a single parent, all this time. Can you imagine?
I'll never forget something Alex wrote. To paraphrase: People often tell those with cancer to fight, just keep fighting. Fight hard and beat this thing. But what of the ones who fought - hard, and yet still died? Didn't they fight hard enough? Sometimes it doesn't matter how hard you "fight."
I used to quote Alex, often, when people would tell me to tell Dave to "just fight!"
Last November, in a post called Essays from the Deep ... I wrote this:
"The absolute worst thing about the cancer ward, was the artwork. I remember holding everything together, carrying Rocco in the sling, walking through it all .... but it was the artwork that made me despondent, want to slit my wrists. I'd always told myself that if Dave stayed any longer in that ward, I'd take down some of our art and hang it on his wall.
I still want to. I'll go with Dave to his appointment tomorrow, just to be
Imagine if I didn't even ask the hospital, if I just waltzed in with beautifully coloured canvasses under my arm ... and swapped it over with all the bad art. (Bad art! Naughty!)
I think I will."
Computer, guess what? I did. (Vee, go read your comment on that post - I told you it was your idea!)
Vee and I met for the first time yesterday. At Nepean Hospital, where Dave had his diagnosis and surgery and subsequent chemo. Sweet memories, man.
Her beautiful, gorgeous husband Alex was a talented artist. We got some of his art printed up onto three canvasses.
Then we waltzed inside the cancer ward at the hospital and put them up. Just like that. Vee had bought these sticky things and I did the dirty work with my man hands. No permission. We left a piece of the world goddamn less ugly than we had found it, and I am fiercely proud of us for that.
This is the first one we put up. (Dave actually chose this one .. it's a dog relaxing next to a Harley Davidson.) Twenty seconds after, a lady hobbled past, clearly a patient. She stared at it for ages. Vee's all, "So, do you like it?"
"Oh, yes - yes I LOVE art. It's what you see into it, isn't it. Yes. Yes I really like it.
Just before that last photo above was taken, I said Vee .. we have to get out of here now. There were about ten nurses milling around by that stage. Can you believe not one person asked us what the hell we were doing? I love Australia.
This project doesn't stop there. Remember my friend Alexandra?
Here is the story of how we "coincidentally" met. Her verve for life makes me slackjawed like a yokel. We've been collaborating for a while now - Alex stood in LA last weekend and handed out beautiful cards. These cards.
Strangely, it was the image of Alex's card next to the Royal Wedding papers that made me cry. A big world event, that Alexandra had somehow made him a part of.
Alexandra's tribute post to Alex is here. It's bloody incredible. She stood in busy La La Land, handing out flyers, noticing herself feeling rejected when people brushed past her. (Seriously - who gets shiz printed up and hands them out, for people never "met" yet? I LOVE THE INTERNET.)
I need to go to bed. I'm writing this out, scared that I'll leave something vital out. I want you to see everything, computer, but I need to publish it before Vee wakes up - it's 2.02am here right now. I would love if you commented, if you could spare a few kind words to Vee. And Alexandra. We financed this whole thing ourselves. I can now put "Bumbling Project Manager" on my business cards.
Later, as we sat in the yucky courtyard in the kiosk at Nepean Hospital, Vee told me that she still can't believe that he is gone, that he is not going to walk in the door. See his son grow up.
And I looked up at the hospital and thought of the new pieces of artwork hanging in there. I noticed three birds looking down at us from the awning. Vee's blog is called Three Little Birds. She took some photos of them and I knew why and she knew I knew why.
Her man isn't in the world anymore ... but the world is a better place for him once walking it.
This guy adores his dads art - he cried when we took it out of his hands. I was trying to distract him with a photo of the amazing pink elephant ... no dice.
Cool thing that happens every year down here - Australia's Biggest Morning Tea