I looked into the crowd at the faces in seats and toward the back where people were standing. It’s an exciting moment, before your name is called, before you’re announced into a room. But I wasn’t thinking of that. I was looking for you, a woman I’ve only met via email. I’ve never seen a picture of you, but I hoped somehow I’d know it was you. You’d emailed to say you really wanted to be there, but you were worried you’d be the largest person there.
"Stephanie, you have touched me with your writing before but today made me cry. What you wrote about dieting and weight and happiness really resonated with me. I am planning to come to your reading to see you but had almost talked myself out of it because you are so thin and I’m sure all the other readers that will be there will be young and thin too and I am not any of those."
Reading it made my heart sink. It’s not that I felt sorry for you; it’s that I felt exactly like you did for so much of my life. I allowed my weight to discolor the brightest moments of my life, including my own pregnancy–a time where I should have been over the moon happy. And it made my heart hurt a little to read it. I responded to your email like a self-help tape with phrases like "Don’t let fear govern your life." Then I added, "And all I can say is, we work shit up in our own heads, stuff other people wouldn’t even think. We think everyone is staring, but what they’re really thinking is, "did what I just say make sense?" or "does my breath smell," or "I wonder if his mom liked the bowl I bought her." People are all a little self absorbed, and chances are they are not thinking about you the way YOU think of you. Everyone is walking around worried to some degree. Live, laugh, love, and cry, sister-friend. I am with you, 100%, and I can’t wait to meet you!!!! I consider you a friend."
You closed your email with this: "Thank you for your writing. It inspires me, makes me laugh and makes me cry. I can’t wait to read your book and meet you. I will be the most fat person there. Don’t worry, my girth isn’t newsworthy – you know, "woman had to be removed with a forklift from her house" but I will be the short, fat woman with cat hair on her shirt. No, I will remove the cat hair."
When it came time for me to sign books, a woman approached and told me her name. It was your name. I repeated it, lighting up, thinking she might be you. But it wasn’t. And it made me sad not to meet you. I just hope you know, as much as you’ve expressed wanting to meet me, I too was looking forward to meeting you. And I apologize if my use of "sister-friend" scared you. It scares me, too.