ANDREA BOCELLI RESCUED ME AGAIN
"If God had a singing voice, he would sound a lot like Andrea Bocelli." Celine Dion
It was the late spring of 1999 and I was crashing into a depression.
I was trying to recover from my second open-chest lung surgery in as many months, and things were not going well. After my first operation, I had been able to go home in seven days, so that was my mental benchmark. But when Round 2 stretched from Day 8 into Day 9, I began to lose hope.
Thankfully, however, that night two things happened that helped me hang on.
First, I turned on PBS and serendipitously encountered a documentary about a blind Italian opera singer with the most amazing voice and life story I had ever heard - Andrea Bocelli. The only thing more uplifting than his music was his courage in dealing with a lifetime of setbacks. Enthralled by his songs and his positive perspective, I determined that, if he could get through his trials, with the help of his music, so could I.
That evening I became a life-long Andrea Bocelli fan. I called from my hospital bed and ordered all his CDs. I would come to use them in the following weeks to aid in my recovery.
Second, shortly after that PBS program, I got a call from one of my brothers. He told me my father was organizing a family fast and prayer circle to plead for my well-being. I knew then that heaven was looking down on me and that my family on both sides of the veil would be exercising their faith on my behalf. I was not alone.
I made it through that night with the help of Andrea's music and my family's prayers. The very next day, the doctors determined that I had made enough progress to be able to leave the hospital.
* * * * *
Fast forward to the spring of 2020. It was the Easter season and I was bummed.
I was quarantined like millions of other people around the world. Church was closed, so I wouldn't be hearing my favorite Easter hymns. I wouldn't be meeting and greeting our friends in the congregation. I wouldn't be listening to sermons retelling the story of that first Easter morning and the empty tomb. It looked like it might be a disappointing holiday.
Then two wonderful things happened that changed the whole tenor of Easter.
First, Andrea Bocelli announced that he would present a free Easter concert from the empty cathedral in Milan, Italy. He would call his generous gift "Music for Hope." How did he know what a sweet blessing that would be for me? This amazing man would be sharing his extraordinary voice to brighten our day.
Then shortly after I learned of Andrea's Easter concert, my son decided to orchestrate a Zoom get-together with us and all six of our children, with several of our grandchildren flitting in and out. We would able to see each other and laugh and talk and just hang out together. We would feel their love. Like before, my family was coming through for me.
Andrea Bocelli and my family would rescue me once again, 21 years after the first time.
The music from inside the Duomo was incredible. What a setting! What a voice! And then he stepped outside to the front of the cathedral to end his concert with one of my favorite hymns.
I must say, Amazing Grace never sounded so uplifting and gracious. How sweet the sound! In a world filled with empty cities and empty streets and empty churches, my heart was bursting with gratitude for a beautiful tenor and for a beautiful family filling the Easter afternoon with love and hope.
Andrea and my family helped me remember how deeply grateful I am for an empty tomb that marked Jesus Christ's victory over death and His eternal gift of everlasting life for me and all mankind.
Thank you, Jesus.
Thank you, Andrea.
Thank you, family, for a sweet and memorable Easter. You rescued me once again.