Shelley Brigg Callahan: The Forward of a Hero
On a Brooklyn, NY rooftop in the summer of 2004, my cousin Shelley Briggs Callahan, told me how proud she was of me, and that I was her hero for going off to school, and finishing my first self-published comic book called Leftovers. It was a touching moment in my life.
I remember it being a great night as Shelley, and her twin sister Erin Briggs came to visit me, and took me to one of their friend’s punk shows. It was one of those great shows in a NYC apartment building, where the “show” basically took up the whole floor of the building. Crowded, stinky, Pabst to the ceiling, and fun as hell! It was times like these that helped inspire the events, and themes in The War for Kaleb.
Since college Shelley has devoted her young adult life to the service of those in need, particularly children, in not only our own country, but also other countries that are poorer, as a whole, in both economics, and education as well. She is the co-founder of the Books on Wheels program, and is now the Director of Development for the non-profit organization Children Incorporated.
One of her most notable achievements is the release of her book The House of Life, which tells the story of Dick and Barbara Gordon, who have founded the non-profit organization, Friends of the Children of Haiti.
When I read The House of Life, I got real insight to the passion, and dedication my cousin has given of herself to not only children of the US, but the world. I know the book isn’t about her, but for me it is. This world is here, in my cousin’s eyes, to help. The giving herself without reward: that is the true definition of a hero. Fourteen years ago, my cousin Shelley said I was her hero. Today she is mine.
Based off of her experience with under-privileged children who experience anxiety on a different level than those of us who are more fortunate, Shelley was the only person I wanted to write a forward for my book.
Here is a short excerpt from the forward to be featured in the collected The War for Kaleb:
“Just as the character, Kaleb, that Jason created, tries to cope with his anxieties within his world, our society is also trying intensely to help us cope as well. It seems to be offering us solutions to all our problems through self-help books, diets, meditation, or prescription medications. The market is massive. Remedies are available in our food, in our hygiene practices, in our exercise routines. The resources at our fingertips seem endless, and engulfing us like a suffocating blanket, whispering, “It’s OK to be anxious. Life is hard. We get it.” Some of it can be helpful, without a doubt, but it’s not guaranteed to take away our anxiety, to make us feel hopeful when everything feels hopeless, to make us feel loved when we don’t even feel liked, or make us feel like continuing on when we want to give up.”