It’s just never been my thing.

I’m just not the type to hear a friend or family member could use some support, so in return I pin on a ribbon or slip on a colored bracelet. In fact, I will actively avoid doing that because it felt like lip-service.

I’d rather quietly make a donation. Or send a gift that, in turn, supports the cause. And it’s not that I don’t like those ribbons and those bracelets, they just were never what I would choose to do…and I honestly don’t know why. It felt commercialized maybe? Too much Lance Armstrong yellow? Too many ribbons pinned on suits, one for every color of the rainbow that meant every different disease ever discovered?

Then a very innocent package arrived at my house. Information from the Lupus Foundation of America. Great information, actually. Enclosed were four purple bracelets.

I didn’t think much of them. I really didn’t. I set them on top of the tv, read the info I was mailed, and went about my day.

As the day went on, and I kept walking by the tv, my eyes kept wandering to the stack of purple.

Well, I can wear one. I mean…I’m the one with Lupus, and that purple is a really nice purple…
Nah, I already have my spoon bracelet from my husband…people may have no idea why I wear spoons but I love it and it’s beautiful and the point isn’t for other people to know…

Or is it?

It took me about five hours to finally slip on the purple bracelet. And it took me about 12 more hours to totally forget I was wearing the bracelet and life went on as normal.

Until a few days later.

The stack of three purple bracelets now perched atop the tv. Not exactly gathering dust, but just doing what many things do in our house- take up space.

Sitting in my usual spot on the couch and tap tap tapping away at my computer my husband casually walks to the tv, very unceremoniously grabs a bracelet, and slips it onto his wrist.

He doesn’t say a word. We do not exchange glances. He goes about his day and I go about mine…somewhat.

I say ‘somewhat’ because I won’t lie, I didn’t just go about my day normally, I went about my day with my head held a bit higher. Was it the bracelet? I mean, why on earth would that affect me so much? He supports me every second and we all know it…why on earth would that bracelet on his wrist make me feel so very good inside?

And the next day after his shower he slips on the bracelet and heads to work.

And the next day.

And the next.

And the next.

You get the idea.

And then today, I see him check that it’s on as we get on a plane to take a much needed family recovery vacation. A chance for us to gather ourselves after this trying time. Admittedly it’s not an easy trip with me in an ‘active’ Lupus flare and children clamoring to see Mickey and Harry Potter.

We stroll through LAX and Orlando International Airport and the thousands of miles across the country, sporting our purple bracelets. Sporting them with something I clearly did not understand before, but get so very, very easily now:

We’re doing this together. Mind, body, soul…together.

But I knew that. We’ve always been doing this together… why on earth would a damn bracelet make me feel it so much more? That’s ridiculous. I’ve never, not for one minute, felt as if he wasn’t there with me every step of the way. I’ve never needed a bracelet to tell me.

But oddly, that is what those damn ribbons and bracelets do. That is what I failed to understand this entire time as I passed over wearing one for some other cause, or decided instead to send that quiet donation. It’s not that you wanted to show support for a cause or wanted to spend your extra $S on curing a disease. It was that you and I are joined in this fight- and the whole world knows it.

As he pushes me in that wheelchair around Disney World, and people stare (and let me tell you-they stare) they will see us both in our purple bracelets. And it gives me a sense of pride. Almost like a big billboard screaming ‘I am in this fight with my wife, she has Lupus and we WILL find a cure.’

Maybe that’s lame. Obviously I don’t need a purple bracelet to feel the tremendous support I get, but I do need it to prompt you to ask me why we are wearing them. I do need it to act as a conversation starter so Aaron and I can tell you about my disorder and what it’s done to my body. I do need it to act as that billboard for Lupus awareness, because if you were anything like me a few short months ago, you were saying ‘What the hell is Lupus?’

And yes, I do need it on those days like today, where I traveled cross-country swollen, sore, and horribly achy-determined to get to our destination. Because honestly…one glance over at my husband, proudly wearing his purple Lupus bracelet and I was re-energized for the fight. It was a visual reminder of the strength he gives me every day and it had me holding my head high, despite my body wanting to collapse, giving me that extra oomph to go on.

And on.

And on.


  1. I’m right there with you Erin. I’m sure I’ve shared with you that my mother has lupus. We went to Disney a few weeks ago – with my 3 year old. She got a scooter. If hubby gets a little tired, try the scooter, it is really cool and even beeps! My mom is a fighter like you and will be back to Disney with me in April. We are in this together and please know I’m here for you. I COMPLETELY understand.

  2. **hug** I feel the same way about them. My dad wears one and each time I see it my eyes water. It’s like he’s trying to carry my burden for me. I guess that’s what dads and husbands do for us, huh?

  3. Exactly. I wear my Livestrong bracelet not because all the sports people wear it but because of all the family members and friends cancer has affected. I am a part of that team. I wear it everyday and keep extras on hand for others. I have worn others but they seem to come and go. This is the one that is with me always.

    Stay strong.

  4. Wait…you’re not paying me to wear this thing?

  5. {{{hugs}}}

  6. Carolyn Lawson Low says:

    Hope Disney works it’s magic for you and yours – and remember, even if you are swollen and sore, people are staring at your fab manii-pedi.

  7. Jessie Powell says:

    The next step will be harder. Get dressed in front of him. Both of you wearing your bracelets. It doesn’t have to be sexy. But every time that painful ‘ugly’ feeling that has been making you hide in the bathroom wells up, close your eyes and see his wrist in your mind. You don’t need to hide from this man. He knows. He understands. He isn’t hurt that you feel like getting dressed in the bathroom. But make the Lupus suck it by not letting it suck away your pride in yourself as an amazing and gorgeous woman. He knows you are, and he wants you to know it, too. I’m positive.

  8. Then it works for you. Good. I’m glad. I think it ultimately doesn’t matter what side anyone comes down on for the awareness bracelets and pins, as long as you’re at peace with the idea that others do.

    Hope you have a great time today!

  9. Erin,

    Thanks for the reminder. I have several causes that I support, and I have a story to go with each about how my life has been affected.

    As an extrovert story-teller, I believe if each of us take the time to share our stories, letting people in our lives just a little, we can all be a little more compassionate toward each other.

    Much love from the desert for you and your hubby.


  10. Fogspinner says:

    God bless those electric scooters. I highly recommend the money for one. It frees your hubby up to chase the kids and still gives you a since of independence. Plus, really, you can totally beat them on a downhill race!

    With my CF I can’t do long walks. A block and I’m toast. We took my son to marine world this year and I sucked it up and rented a scooter. It was a blow to my vanity but I was able to watch the boys on all the rides, at all the shows, and not just tell them to go ahead. (They are old enough to do that, thankfully.) They didn’t have to wait around for me, and I didn’t have to miss it. Plus I smoked them downhill…not so much uphill, but being such kind sweet boys (you are noting the sarcasm right?), they offered to push.

  11. Wear your purple, darlin…it totally adds to the awesome. 🙂

    I love this.

  12. Damn! Is it just me or did it suddenly get really dusty in here?! No wait, allergies. Or a head cold! Yeah, that’s it. A head cold.

    I love you purple-bracelet-wearing warriors. Every square inch of Disney is soaking up the Vest magic this week. Yes, it is.

    xoxo from the armpit of Satan.

  13. Thanks. Just… thanks. Gonna go find my damn bracelet.

  14. Well said Erin. You guys are so unbelievably solid and my heart soars for you both. xoxo

  15. You two are so sweet. It makes me misty eyed. Love love love to you both.

  16. This is a really touching post Erin! My sister and I both have plain red rubber bracelets from our special needs summer camp. They were the swim bands our campers wore. It’s just become a part of both of us now, kind of a constant reminder of the challenges our campers have.

  17. I want to hug Aaron Vest because…WOW. There are so few MEN in this world anymore, it seems. Men of integrity. Men of honor. Men of purity. Men of commitment. And dammit, Erin, you deserve to be with a man like that: not because you are sick. Not because you have Lupus. But because you are brilliant and beautiful and brave and YOU!

    You make me want to be a better me, because I have no fucking excuses. None. Not one. Thank you for that.

  18. How beautiful.

  19. I wear my yellow “Livestrong” bracelet because I’ve lost several dear friends to cancer. I also contribute money to fight cancer, but perhaps in some small way I feel like I’m there side by side there with my friends by a simple yellow rubber bracelet. Yes, I thought it was silly, but now…well, it makes me feel closer, and a part of the journey to find a cure.

    I love this post. Your honesty, and well, basically all of it.


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Erin Kotecki Vest and Lori, JenWojcik. JenWojcik said: RT @QueenofSpain: It's not that I'm ANTI-cause ribbon, or colored bracelet..it's just … http://queenofspainblog.com/2011/02/17/purple/ […]

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