So I did something a bit daring while in New York. Ok, I did a few things that were a bit daring but today you got to see one of them on national television.
Yup, that’s me. In a custom made-for-me dress standing next to the bombshell Kelly Wickham, and Jennifer Lawson. You may know them better as MochaMomma and The Bloggess. Then, of course, is Katie Couric and Karen Gilmour, and the only one NOT in red…the amazing Brene’ Brown.
I could talk about how my fears nearly overwhelmed me and I almost canceled when the tailor couldn’t make a dress that made me look presentable.
I could talk about why I’m in flats, while you’ll notice everyone else is in matching heels.
I could talk about what it’s like to wonder what the whole world will think when they last time they saw you on national tv you were slim, fearless, and talking about women in politics.
Instead…I want to tell you about what was going on backstage. Because backstage is the reason I had the courage to go on stage.
Many of you know my husband, and know all he has done for me as we have battled this horrible illness together. What you may not know, is that being the ‘caregiver’ of someone with a chronic illness might be worse than having the illness itself.
I can’t imagine watching him suffer, trying to help, and being able to do nothing but watch and wait. And wait and watch. And maybe do some laundry, and grocery shop and take care of the kids…because it’s all you can do while you watch and wait.
He’s watched me lay in a hospital bed more times than I care to remember.
He’s watched the clock tick by, slowly, as he waits for the doctor to come out of surgery to tell him I’ve made it through.
He’s watched me sit on our couch, healing, sleeping, typing, talking, frustrated and fuming that nothing was changing.
He’s watched me undergo treatment bi-weekly, take a million pills, inject myself with drugs, writhe in pain when things don’t work, and get up and smile when things do.
He’s watched his children watch me. He’s watched me comfort them and try to hold it all together. He’s watched them grow even closer to him as Mom became untouchable at times.
He’s watched me do my best to put on a brave face, when all I want to do is hide in his arms and have him tell me everything will be ok.
He watched me get so ill and small. He watched me get so large from the drugs. He watched me get angry at the world. He watched me screw up. He watched me say I’m sorry. He watched me become healthier, only to get knocked back down. He watched me slowly get stronger and healthier, as the roller coaster of the role of ‘caregiver’ continues.
And in that green room, he watched me own the hardest part of being the ‘sick one’ and him the ‘healthy one:’ He watched me tell the entire world it was ok to NOT be the strong one.
It took me too long to get there. So long, I could be a healthier woman now had I just not been so damn stubborn.
But I decided to dare greatly, and change.
Change is so hard. Especially for a strong, independent, take no bullshit kind of woman who was determined to have it all. The career, the kids, the white picket fence.
All the while with him watching with pride, with fear, with hope.
Not many people get a chance in their lifetime to have what we have. The friendship. The fierce loyalty. And the genuine respect.
When I sat on that couch, with one of America’s best know talk show hosts, he watched. But what he may not have known as he did, was that all I could think about was him and how he got me here.
I know how strong I am. I know I can get anywhere I want and put my mind to- from the White House, to a maternity ward, to the end of treatments because I will be, someday, in remission.
But on that stage, I had to own my faults and I had to declare to the world that my ‘caregiver’ was and is what has gotten me through. I did not need to be strong and I had to be vulnerable in order to survive.
I wish I could tell you it gets easier from there. That you dare greatly and then POOF! life is grand. But no. There is much work to be done. Because the wake of all those mistakes, the wake of all that fear, the wake of finally letting go and entering a new normal makes for hard work.
But for one moment, that one serene, I accept what has happened and I am ME moment, came in that red dress. And it carried over onto that stage where once again he watched. My constant. At the ready.
So I’m going to soak up this moment. For him. For me. For us. Because it will be gone quickly…just as the Katie Show aired, I was receiving an IV infusion cocktail to make my body stronger and push me to remission.
And I will only get there if I continue to dare greatly, with a great man by my side.
So put on YOUR red dress and tackle what YOU need to tackle in life. Make yourself vulnerable. Be brave. Be fearless. Step out of your comfort zone and do what I did: admit and admire.
Then rock the red.
And if you happen to like the design I was wearing, Gilt has arranged for you to have it custom made by one of their fabulous designers. Fit to your specifications, for us bigger girls. If it was a bit hard to see, it has these great Kimono sleeves and I blinged it out everywhere. I’m calling it the ‘Erin’ dress because it was made special for me, by their designers, for the show. Why? Because steroids do evil things to a woman’s body and nothing, sometimes not even regular plus sized clothing, fits right. So if you want the ‘Erin’ made for you, contact email@example.com and they will take care of you. Price will depend on size, etc. but the dress will be around $385. But then you can name it the ‘Jane’ or the ‘Debbie’ or the ‘YOURNAMEHERE’ and know it was YOUR red dress, made JUST for you.
And if this is all just too much, and you aren’t quite ready to rock the red…email me. Let’s talk about it. I’ve been there. As I told Katie Couric, I didn’t want to do it either. firstname.lastname@example.org – or leave a comment.
Battling chronic illness is hard. It leaves its mark on EVERYONE in the family, in your life. It has left its mark on my marriage and I am grateful every day he shows up to watch, to help, to just be.
Because daring greatly means loving hard, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.