In 2012, I co-authored and self-published This Has Happened: Words and Images After the Crash with local artist Jeannine Chappell, available for sale at Compassion Books.

Press release below:


This Has Happened:  Words and Images After the Crash details two parallel, but separate, responses to the same situation, two attempts to continue to move in the midst of something strange and horrible.

On the evening of April 14, 2011 Alex Chappell and David Brehmer were headed back to Richmond from band practice in Alex’s truck when they were struck from behind by a drunk driver.  The truck rolled several times.  Alex died on the freeway that night.  David suffered serious internal injuries and two broken legs.  During his recovery he began to document his thoughts, exorcising images and emotions through poems when he could not sleep.

In the months following Alex’s death his mother, Jeannine Chappell, began to sketch the many powerful and haunting feelings she was experiencing, unaware of David’s poems.  Months later she and David saw each other’s work for the first time and discovered a common bond in their attempts to untangle the mass of thoughts and emotions welling inside.

They decided to collaborate on a book about their respective journeys, Jeannine’s told through her art, David’s through poetry, a work that would speak to the universal experiences of death and injury, loss and trauma, and love and healing.  This Has Happened is the result.  It touches on the many facets of life in the aftermath of tragedy, the light, the dark, and the gray.  There is horror and humor, rage and contemplation, questions and revelations.

Jeannine and David raised nearly $9,000 via the crowd-funding website Kickstarter to create This Has Happened. It was made through the generous support of friends, family, and complete strangers who believed in the importance of the story and the message. A portion of those funds went to MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), an organization for which Jeannine and David volunteer by sharing their stories with first-time DUI offenders.

This Has Happened is a way to help Jeannine and David heal from this ridiculous tragedy-to share their journey with those who have supported them, and with the whole human family.  Grief and loss are inevitable and universal, but so, too, is the hope of healing.  We sincerely believe this collection has the potential to bring comfort, understanding and awareness to those who experience it.