New Feature, Here: “Two Good Reads” — Every Friday, On Slow News Fridays

This Friday, I’ll highlight this New York Times piece — on what the Republican state governors are doing about the realities of the ACA of 2010 — especially the Ohio governor. Good reading.

But I ‘ll feature this story — a story so compelling it is hard to imagine that it is all fact, rather than a dose of tragic, and yet redemptive, fiction:

. . . .On May 7 of this year, I received a Facebook message from a woman named Stephanie Lee:

Hey Mark, I found that I have colon cancer today. I go for surgery Thursday morning. Please keep me in your prayers.

At the time, Stephanie was thirty-six and lived on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, in the town of Ocean Springs. I had met her eight years before, when I worked with Tom Junod on a story for Esquire (“Mississippi Goddamn,” November 2005) about how Hurricane Katrina had affected military families already enduring the calamities of the war in Iraq — the families whose suffering had been doubled by the wind and the rain and the floods. Junod and I met Stephanie at her grandmother’s house in Lucedale, Mississippi, where she told her story. She was a small woman who worked as a pipe fitter at the Northrop Grumman shipyard, a fine-boned beauty with an intimidating reserve of tensile strength, a single mother whose face settled easily into stoicism and whose eyes lit up with challenge and dare. She’d spent most of her life bedeviled by inconstant men until she met Terrance Lee where she worked. He was a welder. He was younger than Stephanie, and quiet, but she thought he was like her in that he had a plan for making something of himself. Like her, he’d joined the Mississippi National Guard. They married and she e-mailed with him every night after he was called to Iraq in January 2005. She was seven months pregnant when his Humvee went over an IED. She was nine months pregnant when Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast, and she got in her truck with her husband’s .45 and drove nearly eight hours on snarled roads to Shreveport to find a generator so that her baby — Terrance’s baby — wouldn’t have to be born in darkness. Three days later, she gave birth to Marchelle, who never stopped reminding Stephanie both of her life with Terrance and of the impossibility of life without him. . . .

Just go read it all.

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