On Monday, June 30, 2003 I got an email from Lance Armstrong. He thanked me for an article I had written about how his battle with cancer had helped me get through my parents’ illnesses and deaths.
I copied the email, framed it and hung it above the desk on my front porch where I write. I was proud of that email and the journalism awards it hung beside.
Last night I watched Lance admit he was a fraud, a bully and an all-around prick. He proved himself a megalomaniac. I counted t how many times he said “I’m sorry” on one finger. I will keep counting tonight, during the second-half of his interview.
Lance Armstrong was a very big part of a very bad part of my life. I believed his fairy tale with my whole heart. I needed to. In hindsight, Lance Armstrong didn’t give me hope. I taught myself about hope and faith. Lance Armstrong was just the case study. Today, he has nothing. I still have my faith and hope and it is stronger than ever.
I watched every minute of every stage of every tour that he won. Sometimes I got up early and watched in the stage before I want to work. Then came home and watched it again. I, too, was an endurance athlete. I ran marathons, triathlons and swam countless laps, staring at the black line on the bottom of a swimming pool. I remember sitting in my car in the parking lot – late for swim practice – on the phone with my mom, as she explained that her cancer had spread and there was little left they could do.
She died on March 6, 2003. In July, I took my daughter to Ireland, the homeland my mother never visited, and then to Paris and stood on the Champs Elysee to watch Lance win the 2003 Tour de France. It was closure, I thought.
I got through my parents’ deaths, the guilt I felt about being a 1,000 miles away and dumping to much of their care on my sister. I got through emptying the house where I grew up. I got through the funerals. I got through the will and the paperwork. And for a couple of years, I got through life.
Then I crashed. The deepest, darkest depression I had ever know. It felt like it would never end. But I had the hope and faith I had taught myself from all those years of watching Lance ride the tour. I used to give Lance Armstrong credit for my faith and hope. Not anymore.
I needed to watch Lance answer Oprah’s questions. I needed to know how I felt about his betrayal. I needed to know because my depression forced me to deal with so many feelings I had stuffed for so many decades. Today I am able to respect and handle my feelings. So, I needed to know how I felt about Lance.
Honestly, I didn’t feel much of anything. If anything, I felt a little sorry for the guy. He is still such a jerk. Any anger I feel is because of the damage he has done to his children and how they will have to live with their father’s legacy as a cheat. I chose to live in Lance Armstrong’s fairy tale. They had no choice. They were born into it. And my heart breaks for them.
A part of me actually wants to thank Lance Armstrong. Today, I know he did not get me through my parents’ cancers and deaths. I did that, with the help of family and friends. Lance was just a fairy tale and at that point in my life I needed that fairy tale. It was fiction. My beautiful life goes on. No depression. No anger. No guilt. No shame. A fairy tale ending.
Lance’s hell is just beginning and there will be no fairy tale for him.
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Last reviewed: 20 Jan 2013