I’ve been putting this off for sometime, but the most recent podcast episodes of Defending Your Life are up, including Brad’s last episodes and life after his death. Listening to these episodes was not easy for me, but this podcast was one of the most important projects in the last several months of Brad’s life, and it’s important to honor his passion and contribution.
The reality is, the last 10 days of Brad’s life was tough. After we learned of his pulmonary embolism and the progression of his disease, Brad declined rapidly. His body was already failing him, but it was watching his mind slip away that was the most difficult. In the end stage of life (that’s what everyone calls it), it is not uncommon for confusion, fogginess, and hallucinations. As Brad’s organs began to fail, so to did his mental capabilities. He was still mostly his witty, hilarious, intelligent self, but this side effect was something I was unprepared for and was the most difficult to accept. Brad’s mind - his words, his thoughts - are a gift to the world and acknowledging that I would never get another conversation with Brad being fully Brad was one of the most devastating losses before his death.
After Brad’s passing, the people in his life struggled on how to connect and move forward without him. Brad was our bridge and everyday we continue to make the effort to communicate and support each other. Jeremy and I are lucky enough to be in the same city and can podcast a bit of our process, but through texts, calls, emails, and visits, we regularly stay connected with Brad’s family and friends. I am incredible thankful for that.
Many have asked if we plan to continue Defending Your Life. The answer is yes, but as of now, we don’t know exactly what that means. We are still trying to figure out the best way to use this platform to honor Brad, his desire to connect, and passion for contribution. Until then, here are the newest episodes of 2017:
Season 2, Episode 1: PE & Progression
Summary: It's a new year and a new season of Defending Your Life. In this first episode of the year, Brad and Dana are given some bad news after the discovery of a pulmonary embolism.
Season 2, Episode 2: Love Story (Sort of) - Part 1
Summary: In this episode, Brad and Dana attempt to discuss their love story with Jeremy, Dave, Lindsey, and Margo. But with Brad on a cocktail of pain meds and others just on cocktails, what was supposed to be a love story, ends up being a hilarious, juvenile, laugh fest about sex, love, and relationships. Moms, Dads, and Grandparents, you may want to skip this one.
Season 2, Episode 3: Love Story (Sort of) - Part 2
Summary: Part 2 of the “love story” continues with Brad, Dana, Jeremy, Dave, Lindsey, and Margo.
Season 2, Episode 4: Post Brad
Summary: On the day of Brad’s passing, Dana, Jeremy, Dave, Lindsey, and Margo sit down and talk about their thoughts and feelings.
Season 2, Episode 5: No, But Yes
Summary: Jeremy and Dana - a little hesitantly - sit down for their first podcast together after Brad’s memorial service and reflect on life after Brad.
Season 2, Episode 6: Valentine's Day Solo
Summary: Dana talks about being alone on Valentine’s Day.
Season 2, Episode 7: Guilt and Shame
Summary: Suneil, a great friend of Dana and Brad, joins Jeremy and Dana to talk about the struggle to move forward without Brad and ways to cope throughout that process.
This morning Dune and I sat in your chair. The leather chair I promised you on our third anniversary in 2011, when we lived among cheap Ikea furniture and hand-me-downs and were too broke to invest in something so luxurious. The chair we finally splurged on 5 years later, after you got sick and needed a better place to read and write. We sat in your chair and looked out as the sun rose above the water. We sat in your chair, with the window open, feeling the cool breeze and the warm sun. We sat in your chair and experienced the morning exactly how you would have done. Quietly, thoughtfully, reflectively. We sat in your chair and wept.
It’s been 4 weeks.
I still keep waiting for you to walk in the door. Still reflexively grabbing for my phone to call you. Still reaching my hand over to hold you in bed. I still refer to myself as a “we” even though I am now just a “me.” We have been a unit, a team. We have been an unstoppable force. We have been a family. How do I go back to being just me?
But, because of you, I am not alone. The people closest to you - your family, your best friends, your core - have become my greatest sources of strength. I can’t possibly understand the cruelty of you being taken from me, from all of us, but I will forever be grateful for both the relationships you encouraged me to form when you were here and also the ones you left behind when you were taken from us. I am not okay. But because of your depth and nurturing of relationships, because of your connection, I have an army that looks out for me. One that allows me to laugh and cry and get really, really angry. One that allows me to just be.
That’s because of you.
A couple weeks before you passed away, you told us that the meaning of your name is a bridge: “Bradford literally means bridge!” You have no idea the bridge you are. Your work in the city, your passion for inclusive growth, your thesis on the divide at Alter Road, your relationships, your friends and family, your presence. You were a bridge, connecting us all in unimaginable ways. You are my bridge.
It’s been 4 weeks and even though I feel pain and loss in ways I didn’t know existed, I also know that my life is more connected, more meaningful, and more full of joy because of you. Because of you, I will spend my days trying to live more courageously.
Thank you for the greatest love story I’ll ever know.