Rock the Red: Erin Kotecki Vest on Katie Couric’s New Show

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.

On September 14th, 2012 at 12pm Eastern you can register to win a gift card from Gilt.com to purchase a red dress. If you do not win, never fear. You can still buy a dress at Gilt’s red dress sale.

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 press@gilt.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. queenmediallc@gmail.com – 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.

Comments

  1. Don’t tell the other gals, but your dress was my favorite. ;) You looked so pretty up there. Now I can’t wait to see you on TV again soon. You can do it.

  2. I’ve watched quietly from the side most of the time as a passive reader. But I have to offer a gentle cyber hug to both of you. The partnership you have as a couple is so special… And what a remarkable way to be able to share the difficult journey you’ve battled together. I grew up with a mom who is a Type 1 diabetic. As a child, our whole family worked together at times to help. I only partially understand the family experience you are living… I certainly know this is hard. And you know it feels really good to know your are loved.

  3. I spent 5 years being a caregiver. My mom had a rare autoimmune disease (it’s seen in kids who have Lupus, but she wasn’t a kid and didn’t have Lupus).

    Every decision I made during that time was predicated on how it would affect my mom.

    I didn’t go to the law school of my choice because it was too far from her.

    I took a year-long break from school after her driving privileges were revoked after her brain tumor was removed.

    After she died, I thought I would be able to finish school. I tried to finish school. But I couldn’t do it. I literally fell apart. I made horrible decisions.

    Finally I left town; I couldn’t handle being in the house we both grew up in and that she’d just taken her final breath in.

    Fast forward 3 years, and imagine my reaction to finding my uncle (her brother) in the hospital. Critically ill! I immediately decided to move back to my home town so that I could take care of him. Ultimately he passed away too within 2 weeks of my decision.

    So now fast forward another 3 years. Present day. I now have a 3 year old son. I still haven’t finished law school. And I’ve continued to run.

    Strike that. I’m not running anymore. I’m back in my hometown and I’m still breathing. I’m a Core Team Member at the local Obama campaign office. I’ve started seeing a therapist/counselor (who has given me permission to not be perfect, to try things, to fail).

    And now I’m ready for the ultimate step – falling in love. Wish me luck!

  4. Oh my heart Natasha. If there is one thing I have learned, it’s that the caregiver needs to have a life too. One outside of the disease that is ruling the house and everyone’s lives. I do my best to make sure and support Aaron when he runs, or goes out… but I’ve had to learn to do that. Something I hope your therapist helps you with too. As mine has. I think falling in love sure sounds like DARING GREATLY. You are an amazing woman to take on so much. A lot of people wouldn’t do it. So you didn’t really run, you did what you thought was right. Now you need to do what is right for your child and yourself. Rock the red honey. Rock the red.

  5. Thank you Jen. But it is really hard work. I am thankful for our strong foundation because without it, I can’t imagine we’d have made it. Being my best friend … priceless.

  6. Thanks Crystal. I want to be on tv again soon and a lot. But back at work and in remission!

  7. Having been the cared for and the caregiver, I can say that what you gave your husband by going out there was a wonderful gift. And recognizing your partnership is a gift to both of you on this journey. It isn’t easy, it isn’t pretty, but you do have the choice to take the journey together. You have done it with grace. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  8. Chris Hicks says:

    Your husband is and always be a great man in your life. I knew him through high school, and he still looks out for those close to him. As with my wife and what she has to go through, it can be hard. I have spent many a moment at her bedside as your husband does for you. There are very few men out there that think of others before they think of themselves. God bless you, Oh Queen of Spain!…and tell that husband of yours hello from me.

  9. Throughout your fight with this, I’ve always had that thought… that you’re lucky to have a life mate who helps you through this mess. I’m really glad that you do.

    I could go on for an hour but I won’t. I hope you really do realize that you’re an inspiration to those of us without a red dress.

  10. Erin, you looked beautiful. I haven’t watched the show yet though, because I keep reading about it and seeing the pictures, and all I can think is – Susan should have been on that stage with y’all. You know? Right in between you and Jenny. I can see her there so clearly, and I just get all weepy. She rocked that dress so hard.

    I am so happy you were able to do this, and Blogher, and Charlotte. You are truly strong and I’m so so happy for you.

  11. God bless your husband, and you. My own husband hasn’t had to sit by a hospital bed for me, but I know how much it costs him to have to take care of me when one of my chronic ailments has me in its grips. A supportive husband who doesn’t begrudge becoming your caregiver is a gift, and I share in your feelings of gratitude for that.

    You rocked that red dress, and I think you looked beautiful in it. (Love the style!) I have no doubt you’ll continue to show your strength when you have it, and draw upon the strength of your husband when you don’t.

  12. Erin, You’re a beautiful woman inside and out. Perhaps the only thing MORE beautiful is the love and respect between you and Aaron.

    Much love to you. Keep healing, get stronger, we’re all cheering for your family.

  13. Was so excited when I saw you on Katie yesterday! You rocked that red dress girl! Now you are not just an inspiration to your readers, but to the world! xoxo

  14. You rock *everything* my friend.
    Catching up… seeing this. Smiling at the thought of your husband and you the first time I met him and the last time I saw you both – it’s always been obvious you two were magic together. Bold, creative, impish, fun-loving, serious, smart, caring, giggling, amazing people, the both of you. Put together, you’re not just twice as amazing, but more like amazing squared.

    Love you. Love the Erin dress. Hunting down Friday’s show.

  15. This is my first time stopping by your site, but thank you for sharing such an authentic post and for your strength.

  16. Erin,
    You brought tears to my eyes. for you for your courage, your strength and for your husband- thank you for writing this as it reminded me of what Des has had to go through as the caregiver for me
    you are amazing
    with love and in gratitude

    Suzie xx

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