Monday, November 9, 2009

Lessons in Grace

Lisa and son Josh at Arrowhead Stadium

The first time I saw Lisa was in the audience at one of my shows a couple of years ago. She wasn't just another mom with her kids in her lap. Clearly, she was different. For starters, she wore a bandanna that covered a very obviously bald head. But what really made her stand out was her bright eyes, her smile, and her enthusiasm. Not what I expected from someone slogging through the nausea of chemo-therapy.

Lisa and her kids -- Josh and Lilli -- became regulars, showing up at performances all over town. As Jeni and I got to know her, she shared more of her story. First the diagnosis, then the treatment -- 16 rounds of chemo, then the strain it put on her marriage, then the divorce, then the double mastectomy -- followed by 33 rounds of radiation, then the joy of re-emerging health and re-emerging hair. Through it all she showed patience, strength, and determination. Not that there weren't ever a few bitter words thrown it now and then, but almost always she beamed with confidence and enthusiastic presence. I'm pretty sure they call that "grace."

In August Funky Mama and I played a fundraiser for a man who was going through prostate cancer treatment. And here comes smiling Lisa bounding through the door, without her children. Her ex had the kids that weekend, so she came by herself, to "show support," she said.

Then her smile turned to a determined grimace and she said,"I got some bad news yesterday. The cancer is back, and it's in my brain. They found 60 little tumors."

Before I could respond, she took a deep breath and said, "But I start a new treatment on Monday and I'm gonna beat it, because Josh and Lilli need their mom."

As she was heading in to take a seat, she said, "I didn't know you did these kinds of fundraisers. Do you think you could do one for me and my family?"

"You bet I will. Anything to help," I said.

"Good. I want to do it in February."

That was the last time I saw Lisa. She was finally relieved of her pain and led home to paradise by the angels on Saturday morning.

The last time we corresponded via email, she requested that we do the concert whether she's there or not. So, for Josh and Lilli, we're on for February. Watch the calendar for details.

Peace to you, graceful Lisa.