Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Accidental Activists- Part 3

Thank you for following along so far on Part 1 and Part 2 of this journey. Brian and I continue to be touched by your words of encouragement and support. We are so very grateful. 

Tuesday July 12, 2016
Early Tuesday, Brian was interviewed by Gayle King from CBS This Morning. (Click here to see a 56 second clip of this interview.) 

He kept his promise to me and told Ms. King I was the biggest fan of her BFF, Oprah. He then said, "Y'all are welcome at the house anytime for dinner." Ha! She laughed (but I'm serious!) Ms. King did ask for his digits though- and crazier things have happened in this past month- so who knows. As I wrote in Part 2, I'm a renewed believer in miracles. 

Brian had several more interviews that morning and attended the Dallas Police Department Memorial Service that afternoon. Below is a photo he texted me from his seat. 

Brian has received hundreds (and I do mean hundreds) of emails, calls, texts, and letters from people who were moved by his message. Here is one we received that Tuesday from a neighbor. This one touched us both.

Wednesday July 13, 2016
Wednesday morning we headed to DFW airport. CNN was flying us to New York City for Black, White, and Blue, a town hall on race moderated by Don Lemon. Brian was recognized and stopped five times on the way to the restroom near our gate. (Strangers still approach him to thank him for speaking out about his experiences with racism. They offer their prayers and tell them him how his words have impacted them personally.) It was an odd feeling for me (and I'm certain for him) to know that when out in public, people may be looking at us and know who we were. I've always appreciated the anonymity factor that came along with living in a big city. Right before our plane took off, I sent this message to my friends on Facebook:

Brian's phone exploded with texts and emails as soon as we landed in NYC. ABC wanted him to go to Washington, DC the next day for a town hall on race moderated by David Muir. Beni and I were also invited. Since President Obama was going to be present, we needed to let them know asap and provide them with information (including our social security numbers) so the Secret Service could start on our clearance. Say what!?!?! Life was getting more and more surreal by the moment! 

Stay tuned for more.....

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Accidental Activists- Part 2

On Tuesday, I posted Accidental Activists- Part 1. Thank you, dear Readers, for your blog comments, Facebook comments and shares, and private messages. Most of all, thank you for your support for Brian and me on this roller coaster journey. 

Before I get to part 2, I want you all to know that I have B's permission to share all of this. In fact, he is one of my proofreaders. We both believe God has a hand in all of this and we (B and I) are just the instruments. (To show you how much all this affected him, I'll tell you a secret. He could not verbally articulate a belief in God or a greater power prior to all of this happening.) We feel B's role in these events is bigger than us and our "small" problems. Without seeking it, he was given an incredible platform and a chance to give a voice to the voiceless. 

Now, here we go with part 2: 

Monday, July 11th, 2016
9:47 am- I received two texts from Brian (he was at work): 
Can you please call me? And then a minute or so later,
I am reaching out. I need help.

I was just leaving the grocery store but called him back immediately. We talked about how he was feeling and what he was thinking. He mentioned a press conference was scheduled for that afternoon at 1:00pm CST. He was asked to attend. We discussed the possibility of him not doing it because he was feeling very emotional. I told him I thought he had a unique perspective on the Dallas police ambush that no one else in the world had, but that I was also afraid he might "lose it." I wasn't used to him being emotional or him asking me for help. This was all new territory for us. At the end of our call, I encouraged him to try to rest at work, if possible, and to meditate and focus on his breaths.

Here is an abbreviated exchange of the texts we sent to each other after our phone conversation.

B: I will speak from the heart. I will not lose it.
Me: Even if you do lose it and the world comes crumbling down, I will stand by you.
B: Thank you. I'm heading over now. [to the press conference]
Me: Let me know how it goes. Remember, God put you there [at the hospital on the night of the shooting] for a reason. 
B: [Walking into the press conference.] CNN is here.

Neither of us had ANY clue that the press conference was going to be televised live nationally on CNN, MSNBC, or FOX News. And by the time he sent that last text, I was on my way to the gym (and had not set the DVR.) I was on the elliptical machine but hopped off when I saw him on the TV. I held up my phone Say Anything-style, and recorded his close captioned statements. I tapped the guy next to me who was working out on another elliptical machine. He had to pull out an earphone to hear me. "Hey! That's my husband!" Then I proceeded to wave to all the other people in the cardio room and point at the TV screens with one hand (while still holding up my phone and recording with the other hand). "That's my husband!" I'll bet no one heard my excited yell given they all were wearing earphones, so I'm sure that made me appear somewhat unstable. But I was (and still am) such a proud wife. I'm proud that he courageously spoke his truth and expressed his complex feelings regarding this tragic situation. I know him better than anyone else on this earth, so I know just how difficult it was for him to speak out. I can count on one hand the number of times I have seen him get choked up. B very rarely talks about racial issues with others, he is private (people have said he's an enigma) and he does NOT desire to be in the limelight. He didn't know what he was going to say that day, but he told me he felt his mouth open and the words just came spilling out. This was so out of his comfort zone, I'm telling you all now- this was nothing short of a miracle that we all witnessed televised live on national TV.

My sister texted me that she was watching with her kids and they were "glued to the TV." Apparently, they were as excited to see Uncle Brian on TV as I was. My sister's 6-year-old said it was cool that Uncle Brian was now famous but that it was still very sad. Meanwhile, I was trying to read the closed captioning from two different stations- FOX news was playing on a wall-mounted TV and MSNBC was playing on the elliptical machine I was now only standing on. Sadly, I missed the shout out when he said I was helping him get through this tragedy. But, I'm still grateful he said it!  

Brian's text to me after the press conference said it all:
Made my decision out of love, not fear.

After that press conference, he received numerous print, radio, and TV interview requests. Everyone wanted to talk to him. People came out of the woodwork (in a good way!) and were texting and calling and emailing and Facebook posting that they saw B on TV. I continued with normalcy- picking up our daughter from summer camp and taking her to gymnastics class- but things started to feel surreal. While still at gymnastics, Brian texted that Don Lemon wanted B on his CNN show that night. I got a last minute babysitter (thanks Jennifer!) so I could be there to support him, and we headed to a studio downtown.  

Getting ready for the live interview via satellite
Brian got emotional for the second time (in one day!) on national television.

Click below to see segments of the CNN Don Lemon interview.
Dallas Trauma Surgeon: This has to stop 
Surgeon describes treating Dallas officer Part 1
Surgeon describes treating Dallas officer Part 2

When we got home Brian casually mentioned he had more media interviews scheduled early the next morning and one was with Gayle King from CBS. Gayle King, Oprah's BFF! As you all know, to say I am a fan of Oprah is a ginormous understatement. I (not so casually) asked him to please tell Gayle that I am Oprah's biggest supporter. Then we collapsed into bed, wondering just where this roller coaster was headed. 


Stay posted for more of our extraordinary journey including: NYC and the CNN Town Hall, DC and my conversation with the POTUS, and also- are Gayle and Oprah coming for dinner?  

Did Brian's emotional statements impact you in a positive way? Do you feel "the miracle" involved in all of this now that you have some insight from "behind the scenes?" Please let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.   

Monday, July 18, 2016

Accidental Activists- Part 1

Hello my dear, dear Readers! I've been meaning to get back to blogging for sometime now, but apparently it has taken my husband trending on Twitter and me meeting the POTUS for that to happen. Surreal, I know. My private, introverted husband is all over the interwebs! And for several days last week, he was on television screens all over the world as well.  

Brian and I are both in shock and in awe at the events, the schedule, the serendipity, the context, the impact, the travel, and the significance of the past 10 or so days. On Thursday July 7th, I was just a (somewhat) normal stay-at-home mama. By the following Thursday, I was holding the hand of the President (of the United f-ing States!) and having a conversation with him.

So much has happened that I've put off writing about it out of sheer overwhelm. In order to push past my procrastination and get this posted in a timely manner, I've decided to write about my experiences in stages. Here we go...

Part One

On the night of July 7, 2016, several Dallas police officers were gunned down in the street following a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest. My husband, Brian, was the trauma surgeon on call at Parkland Memorial Hospital that night. He cared for seven of the officers and had to tell the families of the loved ones he was unable to save. While this incident was horrific, I was still somewhat surprised by Brian's level of distress. I knew the recent police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile had been weighing on his mind for several days prior to the police shootings. And I knew he'd had several negative experiences himself with the police. (And of course, I knew he was black.) But we've been together for 15 years, and during that time he's seen a lot of horrendous things in the emergency and operating rooms. Trauma is in his job title. He'd never cried before about his job (heck, he'd never cried the first 14 years I knew him!). I didn't put all the pieces together. And neither did he.

The evening following the police ambush (Friday), we attended a kids disco dance party that we hosted along with another family. The only unusual event was that Lester Holt was going to interview Brian on the NBC Nightly news but B ended up being bumped by Hillary Clinton. On Saturday we went to see The Secret Life of Pets with another family. On Sunday we attended church. The reverend said something along the lines of: Don't be afraid of breaking into pieces. Just choose broken open instead of broken apart. Brian cried. He and I spoke about the irony that he was working that night. He wasn't supposed to be but switched to accommodate a coworker's request. Despite the tragic events that rocked Dallas and our country and Brian's important role in them, our lives were still somewhat normal. 

Then Monday happened...