The Traveling Red Dress

I am not ready for this.

The box has been sitting our bedroom for months. MONTHS.

She mailed it.

She entrusted me with it.

And I let it sit there, ignored.

I’ve heard all the stories. They are wonderful. I just am not ready.

I’m not myself. My house isn’t itself. We’re not there yet.

But fate has forced my hand.

With one email, that box had to be opened, because that dress had to continue on its journey. And it had to leave NOW.

There was no time for a photographer. There was no time for make up. There wasn’t even time for a shower.

Jenny and Kelly both said it would fit.

They lied.

I sat in our bedroom and cried because I finally got the courage to try it on and there was no way even one hook was getting hooked. And there was no one around to hold it together, pin it, tape it…it was just me and this damn dress.

I hated it already.

I wanted to take a pair of scissors and cut it into a million pieces and mail it off to the next woman and tell her it’s all a LIE.

Sometimes magic doesn’t happen. Sometimes Lupus happens and your body is morphed into a cartoon like character whose only magic is to suck the joy out of the room.

But I tried anyway.

I had to.

This was my last shot with that damn dress.

So I decided that maybe, just maybe, if I could hook one hook UNDER my boobs I could somehow then spin it around like a bra and pull it over for ONE photo.

Standing in my bedroom with tears streaming down my face and the original red dress on backwards I pushes the corset below my breasts and attempted to hook just one of those hooks.

I threw my head up to the ceiling, closed my eyes and pulled the two sides together.

Magically one hook made it.

Now to turn the entire thing around.

Slowly, and painfully, I twisted the corset.

Inch by inch it moved, scraping me along the way to the point of drawing blood, until it was finally facing the right direction.

I pulled it up and over as best I could, grabbed my camera phone, and headed downstairs.

Baby steps

I walked over to my favorite jasmine vines and held out the camera as best as I could with one arm, while trying to stay in the dress with the other.

Bits & pieces

I didn’t want anyone to see.


Eyes shut tight, I took another breath. I tried to remember the woman inside. I tried to remember that no matter what, she is still in there and she is still sexy.

I took another breath.

All that fits

I took one more look at the sky and realized I am fighting a battle and winning. I am a warrior. I am in here and unafraid.

I am Erin Elizabeth Kotecki Vest and I am beautiful.

The original red dress -magic & heartache

I walked back upstairs.

I unhooked the one hook.

I packaged up the dress and sent it off to the next woman.

I exhaled.

I cried again.

But this time for entirely different reasons.


  1. Thanks for making me cry at the office. You are strong, beautiful and amazing!

  2. Lady, you know I don’t blow smoke up people’s asses.

    The shot labeled “all that fits?”


  3. Carolyn Lawson says:

    Thanks Erin… I’m crying too, for so many reasons. That red dress has some epic power – and you are awesome and beautiful. the photos – all of them – are magical.

  4. Erin, Brava for you! I see so much beauty in these shots – yes, you look hot, as the previous commenters noted, but I also see eyes that have seen it all, hands that have parented your babies with strength, and lips that are unafraid to speak the truth. Also? I would kill to have your rack. Just sayin.

    xo, Cindy

  5. Yes, you ARE beautiful. And amazing and brave. And loved by so many people.

  6. You’re so much more than you even know. And MFA mama is right!

  7. So glad you put on the dress! Being an artist I LOVE your pictures! They look as if everything is floating in a cascade of bright color. Reminds me of a watercolor painting. I think your pictures are perfect and magical. Who says you can’t do magic? xoxoxox

  8. You are awesome! Erin Elizabeth Kotecki Vest!!! You give all of us suffering from the unimaginable new hope.


  9. You are braver than I am. I would never request the dress in the first place even though I would secretly love too.

    There is nothing awful about not being “there” yet. It’s just ove-rthinking that makes it so.Life is not about arriving though it’s hard to not think so living in the culture that we do.

  10. I am constantly amazed by your strength, Erin. Keep fighting. *Hugs*

  11. Oh… THE dress! That dress does hold magic.

  12. So powerful! What a story. I can relate to your story, but know that you are beautiful in every shape of the word. I had tears in my eyes, as that is how I feel. Thank you for being so brave to tell others what it really feels like. You are a true hero! Keep being strong! Love & hugs….

  13. Peggy Dolane says:

    You move me.

  14. Caroline says:

    Pitch-perfect and stunning. Bravo, madam… are breathtaking.

  15. Pure joy in your words and photos. You make my heart leap. I wish I could squeeze you right now and dry those tears. You’re amazing.

  16. Cynematic says:

    The magic is you. It was you all along.

  17. You are amazing! I am so proud of you…and I don’t even know you…but I know what you were feeling inside, every moment. You make me want to request the dress, simply because YOU put it on! Bravo, dear lady – you ARE beautiful!

  18. What Cynematic said, exactly.

  19. beautiful. just so damn beautiful.

  20. You put life and loveliness in that dress.

  21. Carol Schiller says:

    Oh my god, I am bawling my eyes out. Because you are amazing.

  22. There are heroes and then there are WOMEN! You my dear Sister are a WOMAN! Fully Grown!

    You are more beautiful than you will ever know. Thank you for sharing a story that brings me to my own recognition of just how beautiful I am.

    Oh and GREAT CLEAVAGE! *high Five*

  23. Michael W. May says:


  24. Michael W. May says:

    that was a heart… *love* instead

  25. this was worth it. 🙂

  26. Carol Lynn Nabozny says:

    *tears at work* What gorgeous photos, Erin. You are, truly, beautiful.

  27. Perfect.

  28. Love it.

  29. Rachael says:

    BOOBS!! You’ve got ’em, baby :-}

  30. You are the most beautiful woman in the world, Erin. I love you. 🙂

  31. This reminds me of the time I tried desperately to make this vintage dress that I’d saved for YEARS to be my wedding dress fit, and it wouldn’t — because I was pregnant.

    Life doesn’t always give us the stories we thought we wanted to tell.

    But YOU, lady, do look fabulous in that dress. In fact you look so fine in that dress I do believe we should find someone to make a red dress made for you that DOES fit. Because I know you’re going to lose weight now that you’ve dialed down the drugs, but you deserve to look beautiful right now, in the skin you’re in.

  32. You are beautiful and brave! ((hugs))

    and that photo 4th photo (of your boobs) – EXCELLENT!

  33. **YOU** are magic, Erin. I’ve got chills. Aren’t you glad you got brave about the dress? (You’re already brave about so much.)

    Thanks for this.

  34. Linda Hooper says:

    I don’t have Lupus, I have Fibromyalgia, your story made me cry.. have so many body issues of my own, I used to be a bodybuilder,competing at around 110lbs. now I do well to maintain 200lbs. does the pain of what we lost ever go away?

  35. madeline says:

    you are beautiful! you should wear red ALL THE TIME! i am right there with you. i am no longer me, but we are a different kind of beautiful. SMILE~ you did it!!!!!!!

  36. I have Lyme disease and lots of other infections, and often feel I have lost my “self.” I found this blog entry link somewhere in the Bloggess’s comments. I enjoyed reading it, and admiring your courage and the gorgeous photos. Then I went to find out more about you, and saw evidence that your illness has taken away a lot of your “self” too. I feel a kinship with you, which may be completely inappropriate, but I get so frustrated when people who meet me know assume I was never more than this.

    I’ve never considered asking for the red dress, but now maybe I will, to join the sisterhood you are part of. Women with courage and depth that our current circumstances may make difficult for others to see. Maybe I’ll even revive my blog and join BlogHer.

    I hope you are doing well.

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