So for the first time ever I am going to post something to this blog that isn’t entirely cancer related.
I have been a huge Kelly Clarkson fan since she crooned her first notes on American Idol. She just came across as sweet and homey. The kind of person you hung out with and told dorky jokes to. Her voice was incredible, even when fighting a cold, and I couldn’t help wanting her to win. It was the only season of American Idol I voted during and she is the only idol that I own every album for (and have attended every concert in my home state).
When she went on her Stronger tour in the winter, she skipped Arizona. I had been tempted to follow her to Denver, where I had friends, or even California for a road trip. But I was in treatment and trying to work, so scheduling a trip to see Kelly was a little complicated. I missed the tour, which broke my heart since I so loved her new album and used Strong, as well as The Sun Will Rise, as my anthems to get through bad days from chemo and cancer (okay, maybe this post will have a little cancer in it.)
Then, I heard tale that Kelly would be touring this summer with the Fray. While not a huge Fray fan, hearing that she was on the road again was enough to make me sit through any other group to see her. I think I even would have sat through the Jonas Brothers if it meant seeing Kelly. Imagine my glee when I received my pre-sale code for being a fan club member. Now, multiply that by a billion when I somehow managed to obtain third row center seats during that pre-sale.
You read that right. Last night Malika, Tawnya, Tawsha and I had third row center seats to one Miss Kelly Clarkson. These seats were so close we could almost touch her…
But we’ll get back to that.
We went up to the concert early to see if there were any radio stations giving way meet and greet passes. I’ve met Kelly twice before, both times with passes I won from the fan club. In fact, the first time I met Kelly was with a very young (twelve-year-old) Tawsha at my side. She was my student then, I was teaching fifth and sixth grade, but her mom and I had become insanely close and did things like attended concerts and saw movies together. Tawsha was a shy little thing and barely said to words to Kelly, but I have a photo of the three of us smiling at the camera as I met my American Idol.
I would meet Kelly again a few years later with another pass won online.
This year, however, they changed the rules to win passes. It wasn’t a straight raffle, you had to earn points for your raffle ticket and the points required were just too many for me to earn in such a short amount of time. Pretty much, they were making it so dedicated fans (those that spent tons of time on Kelly’s fan page buying things or watching videos, etc) would be able to win the passes. While fair, for those of us with other things on our plates, like fighting cancer, it becomes a challenge to earn the right to be in the raffle. I didn’t even bother to try to get the points, I just hoped there would be another way.
After four rounds of Kelly trivia with a radio station, Tawsha and I both had managed to come in second and miss out on the passes by one question. They had one pass left and I tried all my might to get it. I pointed out that I gave them the correct answers to the false questions. I told them I had cancer and showed them my scars. I had just about convinced the DJs that I should have the ticket when their manager decided to do a raffle. We didn’t win the raffle (and the guilt ridden manager later tried to upgrade our seats only to see that our seats were better than his.)
For some reason, I was devastated. I had really wanted to talk to Kelly and tell her what her new album had done for me. I had a song request I had hoped she’d play (she unfortunately didn’t). I just needed to see her.
Malika, Tawnya, and I were still determined. We found the tour manager and tried that route: no go. However, someone in line overheard our story and sold us her two back stage passes so we could meet Kelly. I literally broke down and cried…and took the passes gratefully. It was cheating, but I was going to see Kelly one more time. I did tell her how much Stronger and The Sun Will Rise meant to me. I told her I had stage four cancer that was inoperable and I currently am being treated for it. She told me her friend just finished radiation and she wouldn’t wish cancer on anyone, even the few people she hated. She told me God bless, she’d pray and that she would do her best to fit The Sun Will Rise in, but she couldn’t make any promises. There were hugs and photos and some tears. It was definitely a great experience (and I think even better than the first two times!)
What they didn’t tell me: the meet and greet took place down three flights of stairs in a practice room. Going down, not a huge deal. Going back up: well, all I can say is thank God for Tawsha going with me. She made sure I didn’t fall, let me practically crawl up the stairs and stayed with me while I huffed and puffed and coughed. If I had gone down alone, I think I might still be sitting on the steps.
When we finally made it back to the top, I bought the biggest bottle of water I could find and then we headed for our seats. As we were walking, however, my left calf cramped so bad and so incessantly for five minutes that I couldn’t walk. I knew our seats were on the stadium floor (the arena is normally used for basketball) so more steps were in my future. This wasn’t working in my favor and I started to cry. Literally, in the middle of the hall I looked up and said “I let it take my job. I let it take my soccer team. I will not let it take tonight. Tonight is mine and I am going to see her sing! I am having fun tonight!”
The cramp stopped, the pain lingered and Tawsha arrived with a wheel chair and a courtesy desk person to wheel me to my seat.
Now, we can talk about the amazing seats.
Literally, third row center. For the majority of the show we could watch her without issue (she did get off stage once to go to a second stage in the back for a while, but that lasted about half a song). She caught my eye and waved several times. She remembered me. It was special and magical…
And then came the final number: Stronger.
Do you know what happened next? Kelly Clarkson, my favorite musical artist, stood in the center of the stage and sang the chorus of Stronger to me.
Seriously, I’m not making this up or imagining it. She locked eyes with me and together we sang Stronger. It was as if Kelly was telling me not to give up, to keep fighting.
Best. Moment. Ever.
I’ve been to many concerts, had lots of cool experiences, but I can’t think of a single non-Milo related moment that tops this one. I sang with Kelly Clarkson. We sang to each other. Best yet, we sang my anthem!
And last night, I finally slept a full nights sleep.
Take that, cancer. Score one for me!