We Have Work To Do: National Lupus Advocacy Summit 2013

My hands are a bit swollen tonight. Might be the heat. Probably is the arthritis. More than likely it’s a combination of the heat and Reynaud’s and the steroids reacting to the total nerve of my doing one load of laundry- WITH the children’s and my husband’s help.

They carried. I stuffed in the clothes. Emptied the clothes. They carried. I sat and folded. They carried.

For this I get swollen hands.

Thanks Lupus!

It’s just one of the little things. One of the tiny, little things I deal with daily and try my damnedest not to complain about because I can sit and fold. And as most people would say…I don’t look that sick.

It is for that reason, exactly, that I’m doing the laundry. So it can be packed into a suitcase and my family and I can fly to Washington, DC on Friday.

Why Friday? Because on Monday and Tuesday we hope to talk to some important people about our life. About how I don’t really look all that sick, but how life isn’t exactly normal around here. How I need help with the laundry, the dishes, and even need help raising my arms to brush my hair when days are bad.

Why Friday again you say? Because I can’t leave the day before, like most people. If I am going to fly somewhere I need several days to recover before being strong enough or comfortable enough to take on another task, like meeting with those very important people. So even though we may not tell our story until Tuesday, we have to leave the Friday beforehand.

These are small things though. So small. They are nothing compared to what we’ve been through and they are nothing compared to what others go through.

I’m lucky. My family is lucky.

Way to go @detroitredwings!!!!

You see, when I was finally diagnosed with SLE or Systemic lupus erythematosus (along with a host of other auto-immune disorders like fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis and Sjögren’s syndrome and CIDP and Reynaud and unspecified connective tissue disorder and neuropathy and so on and so forth) we had family to support us. I had benefits through my supportive employer and we had decent savings and credit to help us through.

We still ended up nearly losing our home. We still ended up in crushing medical debt. We are still battling with Social Security Disability Benefits. And my private disability benefits through my employer continue to put me through second and third and fourth opinions and tests- the latest of which will include a neuropsychological evaluation to make sure it’s not all in my head or that I’m not too smart or too stupid or insane or sane, it’s not very clear why they are putting me through this all day, sit down test. Mind you this is on top of the stack of lab work they already have in their possession documenting my colon resection, my gall bladder removal, my stroke, my total hysterectomy, and of course the continued treatment that includes weekly inflammation tests, bi-weekly IV infusions (three days a week, 4-6 hours per day) and the BIG infusion that comes twice a month every four months that knocks my immune system so low I’ve even gotten a scrape INFECTED just after the IV.

Did I mention I AM ONE OF THE LUCKY ONES? We have the good insurance. We have the support. We have the roof still over our heads. I am able to charge our deductible so I can receive the treatment that so many can not afford. Not even with their insurance.

That’s why we have to go to DC. That’s why my 10-year old will wear a suit for the first time in his life, and my eight-year old will talk about Lupus to adults with more authority than any eight-year old has a right.

That’s why my husband will fidget with his top button under his tie…purple, for Lupus awareness…and try to keep it buttoned for as long as possible while also trying to explain just how shitty it is to be a caregiver to an ill wife.

That’s why I will humble myself and see people I haven’t seen in years, with my moon-face from the steroids and my weight gain from the steroids and tell them why ‘ObamaCare’ must remain in place or even the ‘lucky’ families like mine will lose it all for sure.

My doctor agreed a flight is not the best thing for my body, but so long as we are careful, the message we are bringing to DC is well worth the risk.

While we will be there, officially, for the National Lupus Advocacy Summit on June 24th-25th, you don’t have to have Lupus to have a story. I want to bring YOUR story to DC with us. We’re not just going to tell our ‘lucky’ story, because we know there are so many of you that don’t have it as well as we do. Or have it differently. We want to tell MANY stories. Ours and yours.

Share your story with me in the comments of this post. Let my family be your voice. Let us tell them of how you can’t get coverage, of how many times you have been turned down. Let us tell them about how you split pills because you still can’t afford your meds. Let us tell them about how just because you do not look sick, it doesn’t mean you are not suffering. Let us tell them about how your kids are handling it all. Your partner. Your parents, your friends, your employer.

They might even read your words directly.

This is your chance. Help us to help you. Let’s all make a difference together.

I want to type more. There is so much more I want to say. But it will have to wait because my hands remain swollen and I’m tired and I need to rest up.

We have work to do.

Comments are open. Use them. Spread this post far and wide to every one you know who struggles with chronic illness and needs someone, anyone, to tell their story.


Getting Ready to Head to DC for Lupus Advocacy Day

To learn more about Lupus Advocacy Day you can visit the Lupus Foundation.

Humiliation on Wheels

Swallowing my pride. That’s how I feel every single day I step out of the house.

Some days are better than others. I feel stronger, I feel thinner, I feel like I’m wearing armor.

Inevitably it all comes crashing down at some point. Because really I just pretend all day that everything is ok. Then the phone will ring, like it did today, and the company that provides my disability insurance wants to schedule a day long mental test. They want to find a way out of paying me and it looks like their next move is to show my brain is either sane or insane. Regardless, it is just one more test and one more trial and one more finger pointed directly at me saying “why aren’t you well yet?”

I’m not well yet because this is a chronic problem, assholes. And I am getting somewhat better but I’m still sitting with an IV in my arm getting infused with drugs constantly to keep me this way. Please explain to me how one is supposed to work while tethered to an IV three days a week for six hours a day? Grrrrrrrrrrr.

I long for the days when my inflammation marker tests would come back low and we’d all cheer. Now they bounce up and down and I don’t bother to even report the results to anyone. It’s all just so mundane and life, now. Boo. Yeah! Booo. Horray! Boooo. That’s pretty much how it goes.

Ordinarily having started horseback riding as part of my therapy would get me a pat on the back, but we just don’t talk about it. Getting excited means the possibility we will all be disappointed. I’ve also been doing more around the house (well, when I’m not feeling lazy…I’m a terrible housewife).

I’ve been trying to do more, while minding my limits. Going on field trips so I can be the Mom that can do things, not the one that stays home and does nothing. This past field trip was particularly hard for me.

If you’ve ever been to the LA Zoo you know it’s big, and has hills…lots of hills. And it’s usually packed with kids and sunny and hot. Disastrous combo for a Mom with Lupus and RA and Shogryn’s and Fibro and Raynaud’s and and and and and. So instead of packing a sack lunch and sending my 2nd grader on the bus with a gaggle of her friends, I had to do it the Erin way and rent a motorized wheelchair so I could attend.

I can’t just leave well enough alone.

This is my theory though: I can sit on the sidelines forever and keep pushing my limits every once in a awhile…or I can learn how to live with this illness and work around the hand I have been given. I will tell you right now, it would have been so much easier to stay home. It was the day AFTER treatment and I wanted nothing more than both kids off at school and me on the couch with my DVR’d Gilmore Girls and my feet up. I hate showing my moon face in public, I hate getting dressed to try to put a tent over this misshapen steroid body…staying home was the easy way out.

So naturally I couldn’t stay home.

I went to the damn zoo and rented the damn rascal scooter thingy and tried to laugh my way through it all. I did.

Because I humiliate myself for @aaronvest

But inside I was crying. Talk about pride swallowing.

I got the usual dirty looks I get whenever in a wheelchair, but almost more-so in the motorized version. It’s as if they think you just don’t want to walk the zoo.

Hey look at the fat girl in the rascal!

My daughter and I made a game of it- with her having fun keeping pace next to me if I slowed down or sped up. We both agreed we needed to try this next time at Disney, instead of having Daddy push my wheelchair. We giggled and had a fun day- with her learning about her chosen animal’s life-cycle and hanging out with her school friends. Just as it should be.

There is no way I would have lasted had I tried to walk. There is no way I had any business being there were it not for the motorized wheelchair. And even though part of me felt so very defeated to have to resort to such measures and to look like…well…to look the way I did…I’m glad I did it.

It was humiliating and freeing all at once.

I know that’s horrible of me to say. But there is a certain stigma that comes with being in a wheelchair and I was just getting used to that. A motorized wheelchair? Now come on…that’s a level that kicks it up another notch. And that will certainly take some more time to get used to. However it gave me the freedom to be present and in the moment with my daughter. It still wasn’t easy and I can’t imagine doing anything like that often…but for every once in a while, I can swallow my pride if it means giving back some “normal” to my family. Although I’m not sure how “normal” all of that is. A new normal maybe. One that allows me to do more, to be more.

Speaking of being more, I’m trying not to become just a lump of nothing while I wait for my body to right itself. I quietly enrolled at the local community college and took two online classes this past semester. I tried not to make too big a deal of it because frankly I wasn’t sure how it would go.

There is no way I can sit in a class yet. So online was my only choice. I didn’t have to be online at any certain time, which meant my endless treatment sessions and never ending string of doctor’s appointments were ok. It was what I could do, when I could do it. So I thought…what the hell? I can try, right?

No, I never finished my degree. I was working as a reporter and anchor while my class was graduating. At the time, it was a no-brainer. How could I turn down working in my field for classes in my field? By the time I was 23 I was anchoring the afternoon news and had bought my first home. However it still nags me that I never finished. Especially now when I talk to the kids about how important their education is and why they need to go to college, etc. So…back to school I go. Slowly. One class in the fall, online…maybe two depending on my health, treatment schedule, and how well I think I can handle it all.

At least this limit pushing experience didn’t require swallowing my pride as much. I’m actually very proud of myself. I’m doing my best to add things to my life that my body can handle and that give me some purpose. Not that getting up everyday and being a mother and wife doesn’t give me purpose, but I need to reclaim what Lupus has taken. I need to take back at least some of my life.

I had it all. Or at least, I felt like I did.

I want it all back. Yesterday. And it’s taking so long. And it’s so hard. And for every step forward there are two steps back and for every leap I cheer there are dangers I just ignore. Just when I think the testing is done and the blood work is over and the treatments can be spread a part a bit…I’m joking about setting up a cot at the doctor’s office because it’s all I do. It’s my life.

It’s not the life I want.

So that means some pride swallowing, some more white trash rascal scooter jokes, and maybe…just maybe…a diploma.

This battle is so much harder than I anticipated, in ways that I didn’t see coming. But I won’t let it take me, or the life I worked hard to build. I can’t. I’ve built a life that has everything I ever wanted, with an amazing husband, two awesome kids, a job I love. Before all the drugs I was at my ideal weight, I was active and happy. I will be active again. I will be happier. Lupus can not rob me of everything. There are ways around things. There always are. If that means I have to find the Erin way in other situations, I will. If that means swallowing my pride again, I will.

Yes. I’m getting my life back. New, improved, different.

Now to just convince everyone around me to join in on the fun.

I’d Like That Hollywood Ending Too

I almost wish I had cancer instead of Lupus.

It’s one of the many reasons my family is going to Washington DC in June. Because unlike Angelina Jolie I can’t make a brave decision (which I applaud wholeheartedly) and then simply have only scars and memories left to show my children.

I know it’s a terrible thing to say…to wish I had a disease that kills the people I love and that kills so many. But it also can be defeated. It can be prevented. It has billions in research and deserves billions more. And yes, there is a sick part of me that wishes I had to fight cancer and were given that fighting chance so I could kick its ass and then move on with my life, or lose my battle with dignity.

Instead I have a chronic illness. Like cancer it has no cure. Unlike cancer, it can not be defeated…it can only be ‘controlled.’

1.5 million Americans suffers as I do…and those are just the ones who are diagnosed. Because Lupus affects a majority of women of color there is tremendous fear that many go undiagnosed and go without medication to help them function.

Without the pills and shots I take daily, and the infusions I get bi-weekly, there is no way I could function. So in a way, you can add ‘double mastectomy’ to the list of things on my Angelina Jolie jealousy list. What I wouldn’t give to go through several surgeries to be rid of this fear and pain and ache and disorder. I’m jealous I had no choice in losing my colon, gall bladder, ovaries, uterus, cervix, or in the stroke I had thanks to Lupus. I’m jealous I can’t just have a surgery and a few rounds of chemo and radiation instead of my bi-weekly rounds and the constant fear of another organ in danger just around the corner.

I know it’s not fair to compare diseases. Or to play the ‘who has it worse’ game. I know, compared to so many, I would lose hands down. But I can’t help wishing I could knock the crap out of the ‘chronic’ part of auto-immune disorders and fight a brave fight and then move ON. Just let me win or lose already. Just let there be a finish line.

Lawmakers need to know Lupus isn’t like many of the illnesses people lobby for when they come to the Hill. Sure, we need research money like any other. However, what I want Congress and the Administration to know is our fight never ends. The children always are in fear of when Mommy will go back to the hospital. The story Angelina Jolie told of her partner, Brad Pitt, being by her side and there even being jokes…believe me, after hospital stay #50000000 you are lucky if your hand is held between arrangements being made on who will take the kids to school and what can be made for dinner between doses of hard-core drugs from the nurse.

Marriages have crumbled under the strain of Lupus. Children require therapy because they have to learn to incorporate ‘Mom is always sick’ into their everyday lives. So much so that I hesitate to turn on the news tomorrow morning, knowing Ms. Jolie will be on every station here in Los Angeles and it will inevitably lead to my kids asking ‘can’t they just cut the Lupus out of you, Mom?’

Riding lessons!

And I will have to hide in the shower, again, to cry. And I will explain, again, that no… no… they can’t just get rid of Mom’s Lupus but they can keep it under control and no, no, it can’t just be cut out, but maybe someday they will come up with a drug or a vaccine or even a cure.

If we are lucky, they will come up with a cure for Lupus and cancer, then maybe no more children will have to ask their Mommies about scars and partners will always laugh while we patients can finally rest, knowing the fight is over.

I think that is the sort of Hollywood happy ending we can all get behind.

Friday is Put on Purple for Lupus Day. Do me a favor and wear purple. And thank you to everyone who donated to help get us to DC. I’m happy to report we’ve purchased our plane tickets. We will do all we can to represent you proudly.


Lupus Awareness Month. You Want a KickOff Post? You Got One

Lupus awareness purple bow on my IV by wonder nurse @alina_khodad !!!!

It hits me at the oddest times. Not ever when there is an IV in my arm or when I’m talking to a therapist…but like, just now…when I see the photo of a beautiful newborn.

And this heaviness crushes my chest and my heart begins to pound a bit faster and I feel that ache.

That ache for all those things I wanted yesterday (read: NOW) that I must wait for. For all those things I will never have. For all those things that must change because life has dealt me a hand I’m not sure how to play.

I dream about secretly saving money to take the family away on a surprise cruise. And realize I have to schedule it around treatment and make sure it’s well after that one drug I get because that drug means I catch every germ on earth and I can’t be out in public and I have to make sure … you get the idea. And my dream fades.

I dream about going back to work after having an inspiration for a project as I finished reading up on some social media political ideas and begin to plan how to approach my boss and exactly who I would want on my team. And then I remember I need to be stable between treatments for a good length of time and stop getting all these infections and setbacks, even if they are small. I remember I’ll need to ramp up to balancing work and health and life while I currently have enough trouble just balancing health and life. And my dream fades.

I dream about my honeymoon over and over.

I dream about nights out with girlfriends where we dance and I need to take a cab home.

I dream about meeting my husband for dinner with friends across town. Or by the beach. Or with his co-workers. Such simple things he does all the time with many people.

I dream about running in the park with my children, laughing. I dream about volunteering in their classes.

And then I remember I shouldn’t be out in the sun long, due to the medication. I remember I can’t run, really. I remember the germs in the classes could land me hospitalized.

The ache returns. Harder. Stronger.

I want it so bad. I have been working so hard. I take my pills, I sit with that damn IV in my arm as they infuse whatever they infuse into me day after day, week after week, month after month. I try yoga. I try the diet that is supposed to help with the steroid weight gain. I barely eat now but I’m still a prednisone oompa loompa. I have done everything the doctor’s say and yes, I’m getting better but at what cost? I know there is light at the end of this tunnel, or so they tell me…but I still can’t see it because despite FEELING better there is too much still missing.

On the days I feel good I do all I can- I have gone back to school (online only as I can’t sit in a classroom yet), I drive carpool, I make dinner and breakfast and lunches and I do the best I can with housekeeping. I’ve been trying different things, doctor approved, to help my body and mind from horseback riding with my daughter to gentle yoga to just walking the dog.

I feel like I am trying so hard some days I’m creating stress by being so very determined. Mostly because I can’t stand to feel that ache. I don’t want to feel that ache. I want that ache to go the hell away and understand there is now a new normal around and this is just how it is going to be.

Only better. Because it will keep getting better. I have come this far and I will keep going. It’s slow. It’s painfully slow. But it is happening come hell or high water because it will get better than this. THIS is the new normal for now and it will continue to morph until I am happy with my life.

Yes, I have much for which to be grateful. And believe me, every single day I celebrate. Every. Single. Day. I am happy and laughing when I open a jar without pain. I have cried when I climbed the flight of stairs to our bedroom to realize I wasn’t out of breath. I’m patting myself on the back for every ‘A’ I get in class and for every treatment week I make it through without sleeping the entire time.

All I want is someone to hold my hand and tell me this is going to pay off.

This is life with Lupus.


Learn more about Lupus at Lupus.org

The Vest Family Needs Your Help- As Do 1.5 Million Others

It was just after BlogHer ’09 when I had to stay in my room and invite people over because going out was too hard, and I landed in the hospital for the first time due to Lupus.

It was scary. We didn’t know what was wrong. And it took three surgeries, the loss of most of my colon, my entire gall bladder, my uterus, both ovaries, my cervix, and a stroke before we realized we were dealing with an auto-immune disorder. A really nasty auto-immune disorder called Lupus.

I weighed about 119lbs back then. The doctors piled on the medication. My children were so scared. My husband is still scared. I remain on steroids to keep the inflammation from attacking my organs and every few months I battle something new. Not too long ago it was vasculitis. Just a few weeks ago it was a kidney infection. Lupus does not give up, but as luck would have it…I don’t give up either.

Which is why I need your help. Chronic illness (Lupus is one of many) changes your life forever. It means your family has to adapt. It means your body takes pill after pill after pill. It means the UBER-dose of steroids my first doctor put me on now has me in plus sized clothing and I am much more uncomfortable carrying extra weight and all the pain that comes with this disease.

But I am just ONE of the estimated 1.5 million Americans dealing with Lupus. And I have it easy. No, I can’t work (yet) but I can travel and get my kids back and forth to school. I’m well enough to drive myself to IV infusion treatment. And most of the time I can even cook dinner and do a bit of laundry. It’s not a ton, but it’s more than many with this auto-immune disorder can manage. Some of us can’t get out of bed. There have been plenty of times that someone was me. You see, you never know when it might be a good day or a bad day. And that means my husband has had to do everything around here, plus work a full day, and even clean up after I’ve been sick because I can barely lift my head off the pillow.

But now there is something I can do about it. I can help others and I can help my family, but I need you to help me get there.

I want our nation’s lawmakers, the ones with the power to divert funds for research, to know what it’s like to be someone with an auto-immune disorder. I want them to meet my family, and to hear first hand from my children what happens when Mom can’t drive carpool, or make their lunches, or go on their field trip, or volunteer in their classes, or even help them take a bath…all because she’s sick. And I especially want them to hear from my husband, my caretaker, what it’s like to shoulder the responsibility of an entire household and then some when normal families just worry about getting back and forth to work and asking ‘what’s for dinner’ when the day is done.

June 24th and 25th is Lupus Advocacy Day in Washington DC and the Vest family has some important people to talk to…but we need help getting there. We’ve got awesome friends who have opened their home so we have a place to stay, we just need a few airline tickets.

If you could find it in your heart to donate just a few dollars to help us get to DC, I promise you we’ll do you proud. I can’t tell you everything that we have planned just yet,  I can only say Aaron and the kids and I will be telling our story to some important people who really can make a difference in the lives of millions.

Help us get there. Help us make a difference. Help us give a voice to all those families who struggle day-in and day-out with this horrible disorder and all the things it does to screw up the lives of so many.

Thank you.

Erin, Aaron, Jack, and Hala

Celebrate the Joy in life NOW…RIGHT NOW


For those who are not aware yet, Dawn passed away yesterday almost as I was writing this. We wish strength and love to her husband Mike and her boys.


Our family doesn’t get it sometimes. Aaron and I can sit next to each other on the couch and tweet back and forth, giggling. We laugh with friends and they tweet back…it’s a community.

Dawn and Mike have always been around for those late night and middle of the day giggle sessions. They were the Ethel and Fred to our Ricky and Lucy. Or vice versa.

Dawn and I even got sick together. We even started to get better together. Then, not long ago, there was news Mike was taking Dawn to the ER. The next thing we hear there is a surgery and tumors and bleeding and the words inoperable and hospice.

I, of course, had been lost in my world of treatments and swollen ankles and worrying about things that didn’t matter. So when I caught the news it came second-hand and it very literally sucked the breath right out of me.

No. No. These are our buddies. These are the people we joke around with online and knew we’d hang out with on our next trip to Michigan- just as soon as my Doctor said I could travel. No. No. This is not happening.

Aaron and Mike understand what it’s like to be caregivers to women they love. The kids, the jobs, the meals the worry. My god the endless worry. Dawn and I could bitch about pills and surgeries and pain and being stuck in a hospital bed or on a couch. Wanting nothing more than to take the worry away from our Aaron and Mike and, most of all, our kids.

I refuse to give up hope that doctors can find a way to help Dawn. We still have trip to Michigan to make where we all have to go a Tiger’s game and eat Coney Dogs after. Our kids needs to hang out.

But most of all, Dawn and I need some girly couch time. Where we may have to rest, but we’ll rest together.

Mike is asking donations be given to Melanoma Research Foundation so smart people can continue to try to find a way to fight this asshole cancer. There is also another donation drive where the funds are going to help the family with meals, expenses.

I hope beyond hope for a miracle. And in the meantime, follow Dawn’s advice and check your skin. CHECK YOUR SKIN.

Love Taps

I remember that feeling sitting in class, going through each Valentine and wondering if there was a deeper meaning to ‘Bee My Valentine’ with the picture of a bumblebee flitting around on that breakaway card that came in a pack of 24.

Because that is what some of us girls do. We look for the deeper meaning and hold the Valentine against our chest convinced the bumblebee was a symbol for something that was a symbol for something that was a symbol for something that clearly meant the boy who scribbled his name on the bottom loved us more than anything and we’d get married and have babies and live happily ever after.

No really.

I did this.

I still do this.

And I’m married and I have kids and I will continue to live happily ever after. Even if every day I want the ‘I love you’ and I want to hold the Valentine against my chest and dream.

I watched my daughter go through each and every Valentine from her bag last night. My son tossed his on the ottoman and only dug inside to find a piece of candy. And I realized some things just don’t change.

At one point my daughter came over to me and said “Mom, no one got you a Valentine…we didn’t get one for you.”  And upon hearing those words my son immediately stopped his game (so you KNOW it’s a big deal) and rubbed his hand up and down my arm, consoling me. Truly worried and upset I had no Valentine.

It’s ok Mom, you can have one of mine.

And I explained, again, their father and I have our own tradition. And that just as he had to sign each of his Valentine’s for his classmates, someone signed that Valentine for him, and it wouldn’t be right to give it away. Even if it was very sweet.

Sweet matters. Traditions matter. That time taken to scribble that name on the bottom of the card matters. But I have learned it matters more daily, not just on the ONE day. It matters in the morning when walking out the door. It matters at night when going to bed. It matters when scared and instinctively fingers intertwine.

Today, the day after Valentine’s Day, I sat in the waiting room of my doctor’s office feeling miserable emotionally. I wanted to be clutching that Valentine to my chest and making juvenile wishes. I wanted a hand on mine to calm down my beating heart.

Instead I was sent an elderly man who didn’t think twice about walking right up to me and asking about my scarf.

Did you make that?

And he actually poked it with his cane.

Just reached on over and poked the scarf hanging around my neck with his cane! Then he used the cane to lift the bottom of the scarf up and examine the stitching.

In my head the first thing I thought was…oh please, not now. I don’t have the energy.

I explained I did not, in fact, knit the scarf but I wish I had the talent. And I smiled politely hoping that would end the conversation.

But he kept going. And going. And going.

His wife wandered out a few minutes later, I’m not sure how many, glanced at him talking to me and seemed to survey the situation…was he bothering me too much? Was he talking too much? Should she intervene? I gave her a polite smile letting her know it was alright, we were fine. She seemed to decide I had it under control and went back to writing a check at the front desk.

Over the course of the next 10-15 minutes I learned my new friend was 87-years old and his wife of 62 years (!!!!!!) was a young 85. I learned about his time in a ‘trio’ where he played guitar for a ‘blonde bombshell’ and traveled. But he always came back to his wife.

He gushed over her like they were newlyweds. Gushed.

Then his wife came over and motioned for me to move my purse. She too used her cane. Of course I couldn’t help but think of my own cane, sitting unused in my car. Thankful it’s unused right now….I obliged and picked up my bag and moved it to the ground so she could take the seat next to me.

As she took the seat her husband immediately told her I did not, in fact, make the scarf I was wearing and that I was, originally from Detroit and that my husband and I had Italian food for Valentine’s Day.

But why was I there? In the doctor’s office?

I didn’t want to tell them.

For some reason it just didn’t feel right to tell them I was there because I’m always there. Because this is my life.

I told them I was having stitches removed. And it was as if the wife knew I was lying to her.

She patted my thigh and said ‘we all have our crosses to bear, don’t we dear?’

And I cried.

Right there in the doctor’s waiting room I cried with two strangers.

Luckily I held it together and it wasn’t an ugly cry. And wise beyond their years this couple just kept talking, as if my tears were as normal as the conversation they had decided to just carry on with a woman they didn’t know in the middle of a doctor’s waiting room.

They made me laugh.

Every time the husband would compliment or gush over his wife, she would roll her eyes and say something like ‘oh, he’s just making up for all the trouble he causes’ and playfully smacked him with her cane. It was a good smack too. You could tell she had done it a million times before.

Then, as if reality emerged loudly with the opening of a door and the BOOMING nurse’s voice ERIN VEST… ERIN VEST…the door opened, they called my name, and the couple stood up with me. The 85-year old woman handed me my purse, when I should have been helping her with her cane. As they headed to the door the husband said ‘Now you know that she is all that matters…’

As they were leaving he said 'now you know that she is all that matters'
…and the wife looked back and me and rolled her eyes one more time and shook her head.

I was thankful to have met them today. 62-years of marriage and they were playful and loving and clearly taking care of one another. They gave me such hope.

They reminded me of why we hold that Valentine to our chest and let our heart beat fast and why we dare to dream.

I also now know what to do with that cane of mine…currently and thankfully collecting dust in the back of my car. I will just save it for years from now, because apparently it will come in very, very handy later on when I can’t lean over as quickly or reach as far to give my husband a swift tap when needed.