Saturday, April 18, 2009

Prom and Dresses and Fate...Oh My!!

Today is Alee's senior prom and what a day! First off, Alee and I learned a valuable lesson: if you buy a prom dress two months ahead of time, don't wait until the day of prom to try it on again! Alee had lost weight since we bought the dress a couple months ago. She put it on and it was so big on her it looked like she was wearing a shower curtain. I mean it. The bodice was literally falling where it definitely needed to stay up. I'm no seamstress, so hoping for a miracle, I  headed to a nearby Walgreen's to buy some sort of ribbon to make straps. On my way there I passed this little consignment store and hanging in the window was the most FABULOUS prom dress. No way did I think it could possibly fit, but the lady was so nice and said that if it didn't, I could bring it back. It looked like it would cost a fortune. It didn't! Alee thought I'd lost my mind when I came flouncing into the house fifteen minutes later with a new prom dress over my arm. I held my breath; she tried it on, and then I started to cry. I still don't know how it's possible, but it was so perfect...the fit...the color...everything. Her prom meant a lot to me. I never went to prom, and after we were diagnosed, well, thinking about things that were so far in the future was frightening. I've waited eighteen years for this day. Prom, graduation–I used to pray that we would just make it this far, and now here we are, having dress mishaps and last minute miracles!  So, without further suspense, here's the dress! It fit like it was made just for her. How's that for fate? (The handsome young man in the picture is her close friend and date, Ted.)

Sunday, April 5, 2009


This picture was taken last June at "A Time For Heroes," an event sponsored by the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.  That's Joey DiPaolo in the middle of my gang. Joey is a longtime friend. He contracted HIV from a blood transfusion he was given during a life-saving heart operation he had in 1984.  When he was diagnosed with HIV in 1988, doctors gave him only  one year to live. Today, he's almost thirty. This young man's courage and  grace under fire has been a big source of inspiration to our family. He's given us some great advice and been a terrific example for our kids over the years.  Joey, like Ryan White, was faced with crowds of protesters in front of his school when his HIV status became public. Parents were afraid that their children were at risk of contracting the disease from Joey. 
This happening to my children was one of my biggest fears, and the main reason why we kept our disease a secret for so many years. It was my oldest daughter, Alee, who pushed us to come out. I've never once regretted that decision.  Thankfully, our family has received a tremendous amount of support from the schools, their staff, and even parents. We've been truly blessed. It's because of  people like Joey DiPaolo and Ryan White, who struggled to educate and move us forward, that our family has been met with so much support and compassion. I want to send  a shout out to these young people and their families who paved this difficult road before us. I hope their stories of hope and courage are never forgotten.   

To learn more about Joey DiPaolo and what he's doing in the fight against AIDS visit his website at