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Meredith C. Carroll Headshot

An Open Letter to Oprah

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Dear Oprah,

I have a little dish on a bookshelf in my bedroom that holds small but possibly critical pieces to various parts of my home. I have no idea from whence any of them came, but I know that in case I ever experience an emergency of any kind, I will immediately sort through the various screws, picture hooks, bolts and metal pieces to try and determine which will save the day. I have faith one of them just might.

I have come to think of your show as I do the contents of that little dish: I'm not exactly sure where it fits into my life exactly, but without it I fear I'll be lost in the event of a crisis. I have always known you'll come through for me when I need you most, but since you are essentially a talk-show host, I haven't quite figured out what would qualify as the speaking catastrophe in which I might be required to pick up the Batphone and have you swoop in and save me from my own verbal self.

As I've watched the 25th season of your show faithfully since September (and off and on through the years) in anticipation of you saying good-bye forever (or at least until you announce one of what I'm sure will be many new shows in which you'll star to boost ratings on your network, OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network), I've tried to absorb as many lessons as possible. You know, just in case I need to bank a few more for after you're gone for good (on network television, anyway) next week.

Over the past month, for example, I've learned that if you are a lesbian woman-turned-heterosexual man (Chaz Bono), Canadian-turned-Swiss-and-back-to-Canadian again (Shania Twain), or a British commoner-turned-royalty-turned-disgrace (Sarah Ferguson), and wealthy either through birth, album sales or selling access to your former prince, then you, too, can get your own TV show in which you can get as much gratis help as possible.

What people like me (straight, happily married Americans with no singing voice or royal aspirations of note and no fairy godmother willing to pay me to air my dirty laundry on cable TV) stand to gain from watching those specific shows remains to be seen, but I'm guessing you know something I don't (as usual). Which means I'll probably be compelled to watch all three of their shows on OWN at some point just so I can add them to my little dish. Because you just never know.

Often times I come away from watching your show feeling better about myself, but usually by default, really. As in, I'm not nearly as screwed up as that (fill in the name of a hapless guest). Frequently I find myself envious of the guests on your show, not to mention the audience members who luck out with thousands of dollars of booty like weddings, exotic vacations and cars (although I did feel sorry for the audience who thought they were getting hooked up but instead got reusable grocery totes from Julia Roberts. Was that really the best she could do?).

Sometimes I feel worse, or if not worse, then simply morose when the closing credits roll. Your recent show on the biggest teaching moments over the years had me sobbing, and they were most definitely not tears of joy. Between the skinheads, the suicidal mom who lost a child and the anorexic who lost her battle with life, I got the point, I think, of why you wanted to do that show, but it seemed to me that it was for your benefit alone. You succeeded in growing and moving on from the depression that those subjects brought, but for me it is still lingering.

Your behind-the-scenes show on OWN has been even better (to me, at least) than your actual show, because we get more of a glimpse into your life, even if it's just in your office and dressing room. One of the most interesting behind-the-scenes shows on OWN was when you did a behind-the-scenes on filming the behind-the-scenes. It's kind of the like the Land O'Lakes Indian holding a box of Land O'Lakes in which she's featured on the cover. Where it stops, no one knows.

It seems to me that you are your own best example of how to life your best life. Of course all the pithy sayings in the world ("When you know better you do better" and "You have always had the power" among them) aren't as powerful as what a billion dollars can buy you in the form of self-help and realization. I don't begrudge you your success; watching you live your best life has inspired me to dream big. Like, Oprah big. Or just a fraction of Oprah big would do, too.

More and more I'm thinking what your show has given me was the chance to escape my reality to imagine yours for an hour every afternoon. I can only imagine the joy that must come from inspiring select guests and audience members with your generosity of spirit and wallet. Viewers like me enjoy watching you enjoy what you do. And maybe that's what I'll miss the most. Either way, I know when I have a talk-related emergency that I can just check my dish to see how you can help. Because even in your absence, your presence will be felt and possibly come in handy.

Love,

Meredith

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