Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday Jukebox

7 years ago we had a particularly magical Carnevale. It's always big fun but that year was especially raucous. At one point Abba came on over the stereo and everyone in the room started dancing. I was dancing with my beautiful friend ChouChou, who is always the sedate one. We were laughing and talking, totally in the moment. I looked at her and then around the room. It felt like something out of a movie. I said something to her like, "Don't we have the best friends ever?"

"We sure do," she smiled.

A few weeks later, that dancing moment came back to me. I was on the phone with ChouChou when her other line rang and I listened as her doctor confirmed that her brain cancer was back.

In the coming weeks I remember that Abba moment a lot. I claimed it in my prayers. ChouChou was too young, too vibrant, too important to die. She'd beat that frakking thing before, she had to do it again.

By Easter all the tests had been done, surgery was scheduled and I had shaved my head in solidarity. (Turns out, they decided not to do chemo but since part of her head would be shaved for surgery I did it anyway).

When the Carnevale group convened for Easter dinner we did something unusual. We gathered around ChouChou with holy water and we laid hands on her and prayed. We prayed for her healing. We prayed hard. The cancer was a tricky one and it was near her eye, which complicated the potential outcome. Even if they got all the cancer she could end up blind. All our love for her and all our faith poured out. Then we ate ham.

Surgery was scheduled for the coming week. Her husband was to call me when it was over so I could pass along the word to our group.

About an hour after the surgery was to begin John called. It was way too early.

"Her surgery is rescheduled," he said.


Turns out, the xrays taken that morning didn't match the map the surgeons had created based on her first tests. The tumor had moved. It was no longer anywhere near her eye. It wasn't gone, but it had moved. They had to wait to remap the site. You call it what you like. I believe it was a miracle.

ChouChou had her surgery and they patched up her head with skin and muscle from her arm. She still has the scars but she wears them gratefully because 7 years later she remains cancer free. Yep. She beat it twice.

I always remember that experience during Lent: the fear and worry, the tears and prayer and the miracle. Our little group walked into the desert together that year, everyone's Lenten experience became a shared one as we focused on ChouChou. We shared, too, in her miracle, a kind of resurrection, if you will. The experience, on balance, sucked. But it changed all of us for the better.

"Life is better than an Abba song; it's better than 'Dancing Queen'". - Toni Colette, "Muriel's Wedding"

Abba "Dancing Queen"



Blogger sfoofie opined...

Very touching 'raine. I'm all warmed up inside which should hopefully ward off the blizzard going on outside. Enjoy this Friday and REJOICE on Easter Sunday (I'm headed to Michigan)

March 21, 2008 7:49 AM  
Blogger jp opined...

You can't go wrong with Abba.

March 21, 2008 8:00 AM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Stay warm, Sfoof, and have a good time in Michigan. Looking forward to being able to use the A word again!

JP, ain't that just the truth.

March 21, 2008 8:20 AM  
Blogger sageweb opined...

What a great story. Abba rocks!

March 21, 2008 8:20 AM  
Blogger Kimberly Ann opined...

I am absolutely blown away by this post. Of course, the fact that Abba was involved makes it all the more special, but I'm touched by your gesture of solidarity and the wonderful friends you have in your life. Plus, a good ham is a thing of beauty. Have a wonderful and miraculous Easter, my friend.

March 21, 2008 8:22 AM  
Blogger sageweb opined...

Lorraine, Jinx...we commented at the same time. I called Jinx first so I think I win. Can't remember the rules.

March 21, 2008 8:24 AM  
Blogger Seattle Coffee Girl opined...

I remember that season so well. It was one of the most focused, most intense Lenten seasons I've yet experienced. ChouChou is our miracle girl!

Can't wait to celebrate with you this weekend...

March 21, 2008 8:38 AM  
Blogger Seattle Coffee Girl opined...

Lorraine and sageweb, you owe each other a Coke. :)

March 21, 2008 8:38 AM  
Blogger Willym opined...

You once told me in an e-mail that you had a pretty high-powered group of prayer warriors there. Chou-Chou, my friend Kevin - who is with us now in Rome - and I can attest to that.

And can there be anything sound more joyful than the word Alleluia?

March 21, 2008 9:06 AM  
Blogger Sling opined...

You just made my morning with that story.

March 21, 2008 9:11 AM  
Blogger booda baby opined...

It works just like that, doesn't it? Even when Abba's not involved (although that's a damned good soundtrack to the miracle that goes on when you focus on healing and curing).

March 21, 2008 9:16 AM  
Blogger CRAIG & DIANE opined...

Miracles happen all around us daily. You were fortunate enough to be a part of one of them and pass it along to the rest of us. May God continue to bless you and your circle of friends.

March 21, 2008 9:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous opined...

Ba Ha Ha HA (Note no w)

I was talking about ABBA with somr friends just a couple of days ago.



March 21, 2008 10:54 AM  
Anonymous Syd opined...

In honor of the meaningfulness of this post, I will spare you the World's Worst Easter Knock-Knock Joke, and just's nice to know the world still holds miracles.

Happy Easter!

March 21, 2008 11:15 AM  
Blogger kingba opined...

Tip of this here chapeau to you and your friend, Lorraine. Happy Bunnies and eggs, etc..
You do keep us thinking, inspired, human. Thank you for your blog.

March 21, 2008 11:27 AM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Yes, Sageweb, they do.

Back atcha, SCG. I'm off to get the BAH now.

Oh, and here's your coke, Sageweb.

Willym, have a wonderful time with Kevin! And the A word is one of my favorites.

Happy to oblige, Sling. I suppose most people think of songs like "Were You There" and "Old Rugged Cross" on Good Friday but somehow, "Dancing Queen" does it for me.

Booda, yup. I think Abba should be connected to more miracles, for sure.

Thanks for the blessings, C&D. And also with you.

Anonyba, Abba should be spoken of frequently among friends.

I appreciate your restraint, Syd. And a happy Easter back to you.

De rien, Kingba. Joyeuses Pâques.

March 21, 2008 1:00 PM  
Blogger Mom opined...

What a wonderful story for Easter! I do love that song. I think it will become one of Easter hymns after reading your story.

March 21, 2008 4:44 PM  
Blogger hello, my name is danny. opined...

stories like that, lorraine, just make me believe that there is a higher power at work. i may not be a big believer in the church but i do believe in the miracles i see around me everyday.

you and all my blog buddies are pure miracles!

thank you.

March 21, 2008 6:10 PM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Well, it certainly is an Easter hymn for me, Mom. You have a blessed Easter, please.

You're a bit of a miracle yourself, Danny Boy! Happy Easter!

March 21, 2008 7:51 PM  
Blogger Monica opined...

word to chou chou. that is terrifying stuff to deal with and she beat it twice.

March 22, 2008 7:18 AM  
Blogger Leah opined...

Wow Lorraine. The fact that you shaved your head says a lot about your character, not many people would do that, especially women.

To beat brain cancer twice, is the ultimate miracle & rebirth in my opinion, which is what Easter is all about to me.

Thanks so much for sharing this. Have a great weekend with your family & friends.

March 22, 2008 8:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous opined...

Thanks for sharing such a beautiful story, Lorrainey!

Happy Easter!


MHP :)

March 22, 2008 3:32 PM  
Blogger more cowbell opined...

Wow. I'm in awe of your friend. *clink*

March 28, 2008 1:52 PM  

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