We arrived at the MacPherson’s at nine o’clock on Sunday morning. It was freezing outside and there was a light dusting of snow on the ground. After our heavy discussion the day before and seeing what Christine’s day-to-day life was like, I was excited to surprise her with a much deserved makeover.
Christine thought I was going to interview her about The Butterfly Mission, the non-profit charity she founded after her son Mikey was diagnosed with Autism. The Butterfly Mission’s goal is to raise Autism Awareness and reach out to families with children who have Autism and are in financial need. The charity tries to lessen the financial burden by offering grants for different types of therapies as well as iPads for communication to children who are non-verbal. They also collect slightly used and new clothes and toys to be placed in homes of families who can use them.
Christine was totally unaware of what was to come.
I introduced a couple of new crew members to the MacPherson’s when we arrived. Two of our production “interns”, Shawn and Trevina, were actually in on our secret plot. She had no idea that Shawn was a celebrity hairstylist and Trevina was a fashion stylist; although, when Trevina arrived wearing a zebra print dress, red headband and red suede shoes, I thought I was going to pass out. I had told her to “dress down!” She was one fierce looking intern.
Michael, Christine’s husband, surprised all of us by cooking a delicious breakfast for the entire crew. He definitely proved himself worthy of the “top chef” title he holds in his family. While we were eating, Mikey would occasionally come up to me and hold my hand and smile. He remembered me. He knew I was his friend. In just a short amount of time, we had all bonded and become a little family. I remember thinking how hard it was going to be to leave them.
Once the crew had finished setting up, Christine, Michael and I were microphoned and it was time to begin the interview. We were seated in the formal dining room and I asked Christine to tell me about how she came up for the name of her charity. She explained that, “The metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly is a beautiful representation of the miracles that nature is capable of, which is similar to the metamorphosis of our children once they are provided with all the tools and resources available to them. A butterfly is a symbol of hope, change and positivity–all the things that we want and need for our children.”
Christine wears many hats and I ask how she manages to find time for herself between being a mom, a wife and the head of The Butterfly Mission. She revealed that she had no time for herself and that she didn’t really care. Her focus is on helping her son Mikey and connecting with other families who have Autistic children. She went on to say that she felt annoyed at seeing another mom at school with freshly highlighted hair, a face full of make-up and high heel boots on. “How does she find the time to do that?” Christine asks. “I don’t want to waste any time that I could be helping my son, on doing things for myself. I feel guilty doing things for me.”
I realize that this is the perfect segue to reveal the surprise I have planned.
Tears start to flow as I tell Christine why I am really there. It took several minutes for it all to sink in as I told her Shawn and Trevina’s real jobs. My team and I kicked into high gear. We secluded Michael and Mikey away from where Christine’s makeover took place so that we could surprise them with her new look. The next few hours were fun, hectic and fast paced. We gave Christine the A-list celebrity treatment including a haircut, a make-up lesson and a wardrobe makeover.
I took a moment to pause and take in the experience. I could see Christine was having her own metamorphosis as the day went on. She was coming out her cocoon. By the end of the day, she was transformed from a guilt-ridden mom who neglected her own needs, into a beautiful, confident and sexy woman.
Before the crew and I left, Christine pulled me aside to thank me and to give me a gift. She had already given me so much! I realized over the course of the two days that I spent with the MacPherson’s that if I really wanted to do this show, I had to tell my story. In order to be genuine in telling the stories of other people and how they overcame life-altering circumstances, I had to confront my past. In order to move forward, I had to allow myself to process all of the emotions I had been holding in about the surgery and almost dying. I had to come out of my cocoon.
I hate opening gifts in front of people but Christine coerced me into opening her gift to me right then and there. Inside was a necklace with a beautiful pendant.
A purple butterfly.