49. Breaking through...Or when thoughts and prayers actually DO help.
On April 17th, just before Easter, the movie Breakthrough comes to theaters.
It’s based on the true story of a woman named Joyce Smith, whose son John was considered clinically dead, then despite all odds, came back to life. It’s a movie about hope, unwavering faith, and, for myself and everyone I know who worked on it, the power of community.
The role came into my life at an interesting time. It was almost a year to the day of filming “Sorry For Your Loss”, a film about the death of a father - a character my husband/director based partially based on my own Dad - which was followed almost immediately by the death of my uncle, my own father and my college roommate.
I joke that 2018 was the year Democracy almost died, and lots of people I KNEW actually died. So when I found out I would be going back to Canada to shoot a film about a “miracle resurrection” it felt like a sign ushering in some closure, or at very least a new chapter.
It was EXACTLY where I needed to be, and what I needed to be doing. I was staying with my in-laws, befriending new “film family” and reuniting with some people I had worked with the previous year. But far beyond that, was the feeling THIS movie, about THIS subject, in THIS place created for me.
There have been scientific studies looking at the power of prayer, or if the term “prayer” triggers you, then let’s go with the sending of “good juju”. My mother often called it “white lighting people”, imagining them in the brightest and warmest of light, much like the sun. Whether you deem yourself religious, agnostic, or atheist, what is undeniable is collective “energy” of a group of people together focused on the same thing. It maybe a concert, a protest, a church service or in the case of this movie, hundreds of actors activated in portraying a town in prayer focused on willing a boy to live. Call it prayer, or the collective consciousness, but the shit is real and it’s transformative. Filming Breakthrough reminded me of that.
It broke right though me. The lens it provided helped to guide HOW I went about dealing with everything that this cancer journey threw at me. The decision to open up about the trials and tribulations, wouldn’t have been possible without the vast support system, whose “thoughts and prayers” have buoyed me throughout.
A few days ago, I found myself standing in the waiting room of the ICU, hoping for good news about a friend who had a sudden medical crises. I flashed back to my first day on set, playing worried friend outside the ICU . The similarities were eery, life “imitating “ art as they say. And much like the film, I am witnessing the village that surrounds this person coalesce, doing whatever they can to provide comfort and support in this time of need. Outside that circle, there is a flood of “thoughts and prayers”, hoping for the best of outcomes.
Breakthrough, to me, is more than a film. It’s a mirror reflecting us to ourselves, showing us how to be the very best, when things are at their very worst.
And that support is fully there for you … sometimes you just need to look up to see it.