I don't watch daytime TV. I don't watch a lot of TV at all; I don't have cable, so I'd have to watch stuff as it airs. I can't predict the likelihood of actually catching a program on time beyond the degree of "There-Might-Be-Oatmeal," as measured on my personal Probability Scale. But on Wednesday I let Hannah entertain herself for an hour (not exactly a stretch for her) and watched Katie Couric's show at 3:00. I'm not specifically a fan of Katie; I don't have any particular feelings about her, but Jenny Lawson had posted on The Bloggess that she would be on, in a red dress, no less, and I wanted to see her. THEN she posted that Brene Brown would also be on the show, and that moved it up to the Jennifer-Drinks-Coffee level on the scale, which means this eventuality is no longer in question.
I love Brene Brown. She is the most sensible author on relationships and mental health I have read. I love that her big rallying cry is "Be Brave,"and I love the title of her new book: Daring Greatly. It's not a complicated prescription, but the implementation of it is Herculean. I spend my days talking to clients about the value of courage and vulnerability in their relationships, and struggle with implementing it in my own just as much as they do.
And I love Jenny Lawson. She is brave in ways I can only dream about, and has challenges I can not imagine. I love her Red Dress phenomenon. I cried when I read her original post, and I cry every time she has red dress update post. I love the idea of women supporting other women and refusing to allow them to hide in shame without at least inviting them to come out and play dress up for a little while.
My red dress story is not quite as dramatic as some, and, in fact, I didn't recognize it as being a red dress story until this week. When my Dad died 3 years ago I felt all the warmth and color drain out of the world in a very tangible way. I was convinced that my heart was irrevocably broken, and I wasn't really even alive anymore. I could barely participate in the funeral arrangements, other than to criticize the funeral director's grammar when we reviewed the obituary copy. No. Criticize doesn't really describe it right; maybe excoriate? I think I may have tried to wrestle the keyboard out of his hands and do it myself. Raise your hand if that surprises you.
It was all I could do not to say something hateful when the preacher came over to my Mom's house to plan the service. I got into a fight with my Aunt over whether I had to help write thank-you cards to people who came to the funeral. Instead, I spent the week going over my Dad's mysterious balancing act of bill payment; no one else wanted to be involved in that mess, and I was guaranteed to be left alone. I was angry and hurt, and I didn't care what anyone else felt.
I don't remember who suggested it, but someone said we should all wear red to the funeral. It was one of the few suggestions (along with playing the Rolling Stone's Brown Sugar during the viewing) that didn't make me want to punch someone in the face. I figured Daddy would think it was funny if we all wore red dresses to his funeral. Of course, being that we had travelled for a funeral, neither my sister nor I had packed anything red. So the next day, the Aunties brought over armloads of red dresses and skirts for the most bizarre dress-up party I've ever been to.
My sister and Mom and I decided that wearing red to his funeral was the last joke we could tell my Dad. I don't think it was courage so much as defiance and a fierce and blinding love for my Dad that carried us through those days and that funeral. I still hold my breath through much of the month of August, hoping I can keep it together until my birthday, and then September, when I can try to remember how to breathe again.
So now I think I'll buy myself a red dress. Probably not a sparkly gown, but one I can wear regularly. One in which I can be defiant. And fierce. And whatever else it is I'm having trouble mustering up that day.