I sat in the front row with Lana facing us in her chair. She greeted us and asked us to each introduce ourselves...I went first. It went something like this:
"Hi Lana, it's a pleasure to meet you. My name is Reini. I don't have a "Lana saved my life" story, but you did help get me through a dark time. I lost my husband last year to brain cancer, and the process of being his caretaker, dealing with insurance companies who dug their heels in on covering treatment, doctors, and his death were incredibly stressful, I can't even begin to describe to you how horrific it was. Once Upon a Time was a MUCH needed mental escape, and I would lock myself in my room at night and just get lost in it.
I felt a special connection with Regina, having had a few things in common with her:
1. My name, Reini, is a derivative of the name Regina;
2. The love of my life died in my arms;
3. I am a widow; and
4. I'm now a single mom working for the government.
During the stress, I got to a point where I was like, "That's it! I need to get some Evil Queen on to deal with these people!" So I went from blonde to black, and put on her strong and sassy character for a while. IT WORKED. Lana, God used you to help me find an inner strength that I didn't know I had. So, I want to THANK you for being a huge part of something that helped me survive the situation and thrive afterwards. Thank you."
(I don't think I was as eloquent as what I wrote above, but that was the gist of it.)
Lana's eyes started filling with tears...
:::::Oh crap! I don't want to make this woman cry!:::::
I quickly reassured her that I was doing well. She smiled and said she was very glad to have been a part of getting me through it, then drew everyone's attention to the dress and said, "Look at what her mom made, this amazing dress! Isn't she stunning?? Not everyone can pull off that look, except, you know... (gesturing to her figure)" This drew some laughter.
The meet and greet was an unforgettable event. Here is the group picture we took at the end:
There were so many fantastic moments at this event, but two things stood out that I will never forget:
1. When Lana pointed me out and invited me up on stage at the beginning of her panel, my heart stopped! Me? "Yes you, get up here!" I'm glad I was sitting in the front row, because I think I would have passed out from the rush if I'd had to walk any farther.
One word to describe it all: SURREAL!
I played it cool, but when I got to my room afterwards, I was squealing like a little girl. (Come on...you would too!)
To be continued....one more time....