I began writing here a few months ago, after saying that this great big world seems to shrink a little via the blogosphere. I could see this delicate string that seemed to connect so many together. However unexpectedly.
Eden and I became friends through tragedy. I don’t mean to sound melodramatic, but if not for the BP Gulf oil spill, I would not have been a part of a BlogHer/kirtsy benefit last July: artists and writers working to create pieces for the The Nature Conservancy. As a photographer, I was given the words of a stranger to work with. Eden was that stranger. I sent my completed artwork to BlogHer (Note to Self, above).
Then, I read Eden’s blog for the first time, read beyond the eight lines I had been sent for the project. And I saw words all too familiar. Words no one should know:
B-Cell Follicular Aggressive Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
And a friendship across hemispheres was born. (Click here to read the posts that explain the whole story. Go ahead. I’ll wait.).
In March, Eden left me this note:
Wait til I email you a dastardly beautiful plan. HINT: It’s to do with creativity, hope, art, and cancer. You are so totally in.
And when she emailed me, once again, the world got just that much smaller.
Eden’s friend Vee, lost her husband, Alex, to an extremely rare cancer, Leiomyosarcoma, one year ago today (it’s officially the 11th in Australia). And while his wife and their baby boy are joined by friends and family to remember him, well, I just think Alex left this world before he could meet all the people he should have met. Photographed all the people and places he should have had the chance to see.
Unfortunately, I explained, here in LA it’s not quite possible to sneak into a hospital ward with a giant canvas. You first have to give the security guy your ID and get a sticker. And then your cover is blown.
NEWSFLASH: I’m not Banksy. I didn’t want to get arrested for trying to hang a picture at Cedars.
But I had another idea.
Vee sent me a beautiful mixed media piece of Alex’s and I penned a few words and had them printed on 5×5 cards. (Because the internet is ginormous, and Vee and Alex’s baby boy deserves a bit of privacy, I’m leaving out their last name.)
With some help, I spread the cards around town. From Santa Monica to Westwood to West Hollywood to the Valley.
On Third Street Promenade, I was met by various reactions. Many people were kind. I’d told Eden I was prepared for the cold shoulder by those who’d assume I was passing out flyers for a discount mani-pedi, but I was a bit surprised by how personally I took the rejection.
And the realization that I so often smile and shake my head when offered what I assume is a flyer for a discount mani-pedi but, in fact, could be someone who could is trying to share with the world the legacy of another human being.
It made me think a lot about the way we view each other. How little we listen and take in. The way we walk through life without interacting. Rushing, always rushing.
Cancer has touched all of us, too many of us.
I gave away so many cards. Spread Alex’s work through the streets and canyons and beaches. I have so many stories to share. I have so much more to say. But for now, I leave you with this email I received from a stranger who came upon one of the cards:
I found this postcard about Alex in West Hollywood, California … my thoughts are with him.
Vee, from LA to NSW, we’ve shared the beauty Alex saw in the world. Thank you for sharing him with us.
On the boardwalk off of Ocean Avenue. By the ferris wheel at the Santa Monica Pier. On Third Street Promenade, the palm lined sidewalks of Doheny Drive, on San Vicente and Ventura Boulevards. Alex is here.