Going into creating my list of guests for early episodes this show, I knew I had to have Will Ellis right up there. He doesn't know it (well, NOW he does) but he was also one of the inspirations for this project.
In my mind, Will's interview was going to be a slam-dunk piece of cake. He looks great on camera and we know each other well. I knew his story. We sing karaoke duets together and sometimes I let him spin and flip me around in a crazy, drunken version of swing dancing that only Will can do. Yes, he has revealed my under-things to our friends at parties. (No, there are no pics.)
Maybe the interview suddenly got hard because I knew what was coming. I knew it was going to hit me in that way that the thought of nearly losing someone important can. Maybe I was bracing myself too much.
I wish I'd had the cameras rolling a few years ago when we first had the conversation about all this. You see, Will had volunteered to help me take my son, who is a Fragile X kid on the autism spectrum, to see his special doctors at the MIND Institute in Sacramento. It's a long drive from San Francisco and the visits can be challenging, especially on our own. I was surprised when Will stepped up to join us and help with Corin that day. No one outside of our immediate family had ever been willing to take that on before. It was on the drive home that I realized why - and how much more there was to Will than just a happy hour/karaoke buddy. (He also helped take Corin trick-or-treating one Halloween although his Jackie O heels must've been killing him!)
When he mentioned his cancer, it was subtly. I almost missed it, but it sunk in and I was definitely taken aback. We talked then about what it was like, how young he'd been, how serious it was...and how once his ordeal was behind him that he became determined to help other kids facing similar challenges. He went on to talk about his work with the Make-a-Wish Foundation and Camp Sunshine Dreams and, honestly, I remember nothing else about the drive at all...I was just riveted. That's just a lot of life to have lived by this young age.
So, yeah. I wish I could have shared with you the hour or two long conversation from that road trip. Instead, I can offer the condensed version here. I hope you enjoy it, too.