I took a step toward my chair and then stopped quickly. Suddenly I couldn't put one foot in front of the other. I looked down at the pretty powder-blue dress that I'd bought months ago and I couldn't help notice that the hem was shaking. My knees were clicking against each other like a little girl about to say something to the class for the very first time. As people moved quickly around me, I stayed in this moment paralyzed by the events that were about to unfold. I closed my eyes to gather strength. How did I get here? Why me? It would have been so much easier to stay quiet and blend in with the rest of the world without anyone knowing my pain. I'm so scared. I'm so scared. I'm so scared.
"Jenny," the stagehand said. "We're going live in five minutes. You need to sit down."
I looked down in front of me and prayed to God to give me strength. I opened my heart and then looked back at the stagehand. He put his hand on my shoulder and said, "Oprah will be out there in a minute."
My eyes welled up as I slowly began walking. I exited the dark room in which I had waited, shaking and praying, and soon entered the studio, bright with lights and filled with women. I faintly heard the sound of applause, but the tone of the applause was different from what I was used to hearing. It wasn't a frantic slapping of hands with big grins on everyone's faces. It was slow, deep, and sympathetic. I sat down in my seat and looked at the crowd. I witnessed a room filled with five hundred women who had now grown silent. They looked at me encouragingly and I took a few deep breaths to center myself.