For Marty

Marty is a stay-at-home dad to five-year-old Claire. Carole works full-time at Powell's. The turtle is un-named and has been missing since our photo session last fall. 
Marty has been fighting cancer for two years. I will write and rewrite this post, edit, erase, second guess, etc., if I even attempt to put into words my fear of cancer as a parent. I think Marty read this on my face when he told me he was sick, for he quickly promised "don't worry, I won't die on you anytime soon," as if it was something he owed me. I have thought of that moment often, that he felt the need to comfort me. 
I will never be able to write what I truly want to say because I honestly am not sure how. My heart is so heavy for Marty, Carole and Claire, this family that I barely know, but feel enormous love for nonetheless. In the little time I have known Marty, he has proven to be a kick ass Papa to Claire: I have watched him fight exhaustion and nausea to be present with her. I have seen him pull from reserves of patience when mine would have been long gone. Spend a few minutes with them and you'll see that his love for Claire and her mama is beyond measure. I imagine this carries them through some dark days.
I am writing this post because Marty's friend Nena Rawdah, owner of the St Johns Booksellers, is hosting a benefit for Marty's family on Monday, March 12th, at 7:00 pm, at her book store (8622 N Lombard). The benefit is a slam poetry performance, featuring The Svelte Ms. Spelt (Angus Adair), with instant on-request poems written by Reuben Nisenfeld, and readings by Michelle Frost, and Ansel Appleton. I know little about poetry, slamming or otherwise, but I assure you this event will be a good time. There is a suggested donation of $5.00; you can read more about it here. If you can't be there you can still support Marty. Order books through their website,, from Sunday 3/11 through Saturday 3/17, and pay with a credit card. They will pass 1/3 of their profits from online sales during the week to Marty's wife, Carole Reichstein, to help with their ongoing expenses. Every new book or Google ebook they sell online during that time will benefit Marty and his family. (An important detail to note about their website ordering database: When selecting a book, please note whether the product page indicates that it will ship immediately. If your title says 'Special Order--Subject to Availability' it may be delayed or unavailable. And 'Out of print' means just that; it's in the database for information only. They encourage you to choose from the hundreds of thousands of titles that 'Ship within 1-5 days.'). If you attend the event and/or place an order through the bookstore, and you show me your receipt, I will give you an equal amount in print credit for a future photo session. But don't attend the event because of that, attend because any money you spend will help this beautiful hardworking family pay the ever-increasing bills caused by this illness.
Nena has known Marty for many years; as I struggled with writing this post today, I was messaging with her on Facebook and she said something about Marty that I will leave you with because it is both simple and powerful.
Marty believes, rightly I'm sure, that he couldn't have made it this far without determined and carefully cultivated optimism.