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Wit, wisdom and warmth: Meredith Vieira uncensored

Balancing work & home

Getting ready for her new assignment on the Today show, Meredith Vieira shares her private side - from the crisis that made her marriage stronger to why her kids think she's a mess.

For the moment, however, their dark days are apparently behind them. In 2004, Cohen wrote a moving and wrenchingly honest best seller, Blindsided: A Reluctant Memoir, about the effects of his illnesses on himself and on his family. In the book, he gives a harrowing description of his despair and rage after his two bouts of cancer, in 1999 and again 11 months later. He is now in remission. "I wanted to leave [him] sometimes," Vieira told Walters when she and Cohen sat down for a 20/20 interview two years ago. Now, says Cohen, "I can't say it's as if it never happened, but pages have turned. Things have lightened up." Today, at lunch, Vieira jokes about her husband's blindness: "I think he's faking. Somehow, he can still spot a beautiful woman, and he still beats me when we play pool." Though Cohen walks with a cane and has trouble carrying things — "there are days that are terrible," Vieira admits — "we try to laugh about it as much as we can." Meanwhile, she takes solace in knowing that "if four years from now I decided, All right, that's enough," the family would be secure enough financially that she could quit and care for her husband if it eventually became necessary.

As she leaves the restaurant, a beaming older woman calls to her, "Hey, Meredith!" Vieira responds, "Hi, how are you?" as warmly as if she were greeting an old friend. On Fifth Avenue, outside the park, there is another older woman, this one dressed in rags, sitting in the street, leaning against the curb. Vieira watches to see if she has fallen — but, no, it seems she has just decided to sit there awhile. "That breaks my heart," says Vieira. But then her heart is pulled in a different direction. Her cell phone, which she has turned back on, has begun to ring, and it's her son on the line. It's time to answer the call and go home.

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Reprinted with Permission of Hearst Communications, Inc. Originally Published: Wit, Wisdom & Warmth — Meredith Vieira Uncensored
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