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Counting Her Blessings

continued...

And puts a lot back in. "There have been moments that meant a lot to me," she says of her first year. "The Virginia Tech story was moving and humbling." Talking to people involved in April's tragedy, after a student on a shooting rampage killed 32 students and faculty and himself, touched her deeply.

On the lighter side, Vieira fulfilled a girlhood fantasy and became a Rockette at Radio City Music Hall for a day last November. "The people at NBC said to me, ‘If there's something you've always dreamed of doing, you can do it here.' The next thing I knew, there I was onstage, just kicking my legs and having a great time. That was so neat. It was thrilling!

"One of the joys of this job is that you get to explore parts of yourself you'd never get a chance to express, and parts of the world you'd never get a chance to see," she says. Vieira has also traveled (with son Ben) to China, the prelude to her covering the Summer Olympics in Beijing. All this, and she's in her sixth year of hosting the syndicated version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. "It's a little bit mind-boggling," she concedes.

Now that her children are teenagers, Vieira believes, coanchoring Today is the right job at the right time. "I worried about the mornings without them. So I cried about it — that's my MO, I cry about everything — and the kids reminded me that I never made eggs for them anyway, and besides, we fight in the morning." Now she gives each sleeping child a kiss before she leaves, "as much just to check to see if they're in the bed."

Vieira has recently returned from Scotland, where she interviewed J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books. I remark that Rowling seemed more vulnerable with Vieira than I'd seen her in other interviews. Vieira nods. "We really connected on a lot of levels. We have a similar sense of humor, and we're both moms. Her mother died of multiple sclerosis, and Richard has MS, so I brought her a copy of his memoir, Blindsided."

Good Housekeeping Photo Meredith Vieira

By the time Cohen and Vieira met in late 1982, he had already fallen in love with her voice. He happened to hear it earlier that year, he writes, over the audio speakers at CBS News headquarters in Manhattan, where he was a producer. "Whose voice is that?" he asked a colleague. Told she was a new correspondent based in Chicago, Cohen said, "I am going to marry that woman." He calls their initial encounter "contempt at first sight." Walking by Vieira's CBS Chicago office, he saw her lying on a couch watching Looney Tunes on TV. "Very impressive," he said. "A real journalist."

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