"The best way to mend a broken heart is time and girlfriends." -Gwyneth Paltrow
Please welcome my beautiful, southern-belle heart sister Mary Leah Coco. We could not be more different and more alike. Mary Leah is the mommy of a beautiful 4 year old girl and the wife of a chef..... and with a family history of heart disease, she is in end stage heart failure. Just a few years older than me, Mary Leah is waiting for a new heart - someone else's tragedy will be her second chance/new beginning/fresh start. She is the bravest person I know and I am so proud to call her my friend (though, we often call each other DUDE.)
Red is a primary color. Red is one of the first colors we can perceive after birth. Red is commonly used in many cultures as part of wedding festivities. Red is the color of love and fidelity. The color red is my sign of hope. The color red bonds my Rach and I together.
Rach and I met August 13, 2012 and my life hasn’t been the same since! When I first met her I thought, thank goodness there is someone else in this world shorter than me. We both sat stoically (well…as much as possible) around a table of women as we shared our stories of heart disease and how it changed our lives. It is nothing short of eerie to hear your own life’s story retold through someone else’s eyes and voice - and the fact that it’s their life’s story too makes you feel like you are no longer walking the path alone. When Rachel talked about the risk of having more kids, I could feel her sadness in my gut. I know this feeling all too well. We both are so young and had so many visions of what our lives would be like. But heart disease had another idea. Heart disease chose us and now we have chosen to fight back….to fight back together.
"Coco loves Rach" officially got off the ground when she let me borrow her fabulous red wedges. All great friendships start with a great pair of shoes, don’t they? And let’s just be honest here….Rachel is way more fashionable than I am, and the stylist at our photo shoot was insistent on cramming my poor little feet into these torturous heals. I’m a flat kind of girl, so my poor feet were in pain. Well, I remembered Rachel’s fabulous red wedges and short of begged her to borrow them……thank goodness she said yes! I rocked those red wedges, and now they are famous in our 2012 Go Red sister photo!
Let me tell you, I love this girl. She is the yin to my yang. I can’t think of a day that has gone by since we met that we haven’t talked. Even if it’s something as simple as a message that says, “Dude”…..we are always checking in with each other. We have conversations about potty training, feeling crabby, my obsession with silly jokes, what red dresses we have seen lately, religion, parenting - you name it and we are talking about it. I admire her fiery spirit, inquisitive nature, compassionate spirit, and her perfectly flawed heart. She is an amazing mother, fearless warrior, and has a super smart mouth that I love. Her desire to change the world is rivaled by none other. I am in awe of her passion for life.
Heart disease is deceptive and surely does not care where you live, what kind of education you have, what your life plans are….heart disease takes what it wants and that is that. Together, Rachel and I are fighting back. A song that I feel explains what Rachel and I want to do with this year’s Go Red for Women campaign is Alicia Keys’ “Girl On Fire.” This song brings a smile to my face, tears to my eyes, joy to my heart, and often articulates what I cannot do alone.
How do I feel about being part of the Go Red for Women movement? How do I feel about being a heart disease survivor? How am I going to continue to live my life once I get a new heart? How do I approach each day? I will do it wearing red and on fire!
"Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art... It has no survival value; rather is one of those things that give value to survival." -C. S. Lewis