“I thank God that I’m alive” says Marie in Tara magazine interview

STOCKHOLM - Marie Fredriksson has been selected by the Swedish womens' magazine Tara to receive their annual award given to a woman who has achieved something special in their life. This year, the prize goes to Marie because "her fantastic creativity doesn't let itself be stopped by anything." Tara, a magazine geared towards women over 40, is published by the Bonnier group.
This is the fifth year Tara has given out the award, and the article announcing it appears in the current edition of the magazine. Translated by The Daily Roxette, it is reprinted below with the kind permission of the magazine.

By Stina Abenius

It's not that I don't like the other four candidates nominated for the Tara-award this year, but seldom has a winner been more deserving. The fact that Marie Fredriksson, after her four-year fight against cancer releases both a solo album and does a mini-comeback with Roxette is admirable. The fact that, in addition, she published a book of her drawings a year ago, and even made an exhibition with these drawings is simply incredible. Her fantastic creativity doesn't let itself be stopped by anything.
I meet her at manager Marie Dimberg's office near Hötorget in Stockholm. She's sits and gets makeup for the photo session when I arrive. Photographer Kristian Pohl is setting up shop in the stairwell.
She is sluggish in her movements when she greets me and then walks to the photo session. It takes a little longer. Sometimes she searches for the right words. But when she's posing, one can see she's done it a thousand times before.
The last time I met her was 14 years ago, in the middle of the worst Roxette-hype. At that time, the most frequently asked question was "have you been together with Per Gessle?"
What is the most common question now I wonder later as we sit on a sofa in one of the offices and drink coffee
"What people tell me most often is that they are glad I made it, that I'm alive. People come to me and say this all the time. This happiness is wonderful," she says.
Marie is 48 years old this year, and therefore the same age as Tara's average reader. Therefore it's not that strange that we chose her and that we care about her. A lot. We have loved "Ännu doftar kärlek," danced to "The Look", cried to "It Must Have Been Love". She has been part of the soundtrack of our lives. She is one of us.
When Marie fell back home in Djursholm four years ago, and later was diagnosed with a brain tumor, many of us thought "it could have been me." And now that she is back so strongly we feel inspired by her courage.
She was 44 then. Her children Oscar and Josefin were six and nine. We wondered then how it would go. We didn't really know anything. Didn't hear very much either. Yes, in some newspapers we read that she was extremely protected. Secretly photographed outside of her home and on the way to the hospital. But she herself didn't speak, not then.
"Now it's different. It's not at all the same pressure. I live a completely different life and everything is calm around me. I am actually very happy being able to say this now. But yes, four years have passed by, where did the time go?," says Marie.
The tumor meant a turning point for Marie. After the operation everything became different.
"I thank God I'm alive, I really do. Today I live one day at the time. Stress is nonexistant. I've learned to recognize stress and when I do I stop. I had so much of it before. Some of it was fun, a positive stress, but I can't take it anymore. It's just now I feel I can relax."
Marie's treatment is finished. What she's doing now is a lot of training since after the tumor's removal, she's got problems with, among other things, learning.
"I have to learn new songs in a new way because I can't read, but I have a girl who helps me with this. But I'm so happy that I've found out that one can actually learn to do things in ways a little differerent to the way you were used to, and they work as good as the old ones.
"I am getting better and better at reading, but counting is still hard. But I don't really need to learn it because I can get help from my children, for example. And I can draw, there's no damage there," explains Marie.
She can still do everything she could do before the operation, she doesn't need to re-learn those things. It's everything new that's hard.

Now it's autumn, and Marie loves this season. It's free from demands, beautiful and full of fresh air. But this particular fall there's a mini-version of Circus Roxette going on. The hectic side of Marie's career which involved traveling all around the world, millions of albums sold and millions of fans.
It is 20 years since they started and now they have released a compilation with two new songs. In the [One Wish] video, she stands there looking totally cool and "roxetty," a totally different Marie to the one we met in the beginning of the summer when she released "Min bäste vän" with old Swedish 70's songs.

How is it to work with Roxette again?
"It's great to go back to this glamor, it's such a party! Roxette is a little like a game to me. It's always been so simple in a way, very improvised, but at the same time of course it's been totally planned. And all the fans we have, they have supported me enormously. I received so many letters. That helped me so much when I was ill.
She really means it. All the positive comments and supportive letters helped her a lot, and she felt like she had a huge global cheering section by her side during her treatment.
At the same time, she doesn't feel she could do the same race that she's done with Roxette. It wouldn't work now. "I don't work at all as much as Per, and we really prioritize everything we do. There will be some TV, a visit to England and Germany where we have many fans. We travelled so much in the past and have so many friends around the globe that would be fun to meet again," says Marie.
"Per is incredible. He works all the time, never takes a break. He's that kind of person. I'm not like that, I want to have as much time off as possible. That's been a conflict between us sometimes. That he wants to work more and I less.
"But we are such good friends and we laugh so much together. Per's wife Åsa is also a good friend of mine so we are always in touch, more or less. It has been nice to have such strong friendship with them both all this time I've been ill. I am thankful for that."

Friends are proven in times of distress they say. Have you also lost friends during your illness?
"Yes, unfortunately, I have."
Was it because they couldn't cope with the illness?"
"Yes, some were scared to death. I can understand, but this has also taught me to concentrate on my real friends."

The most important friend in Marie's life is her husband Micke Bolyos. As tightly as she works together with Per Gessle in Roxette, she works with her husband when recording her solo records. And anyone who saw the documentary about Marie's work on the album "The Change" two years ago could see how close they are.
"When we recorded the last album 'The Change' he wrote half of the songs and I wrote half. He was a big help as I was fairly sick then. I managed it since he was so strong and because we are so close together with music."
"At the same time I think one has to encourage each other to maintain their own interests. Micke plays a lot of golf for instance and I love to draw and go on long walks."
They met 15 years ago in Australia. Marie was there with Roxette and they had just ended the tour in Sydney. Micke was on a journey around the world.
"Oh, it was fantastic. He knew several people in our band, so we ended up at the same party. From one day to the next we became a couple. It's really a fairy tale!"
The fairy tale continued when they had children. And the little gang that is her family has grown much tighter during the years she's been sick.
"It's so nice to be with the kids when it feels like things get too hectic around me. To them there's no such thing as stress, they [live for the] here and now, all the time. We adults have a lot to learn there."
"My contact with them is much better now than before. Somehow I worked all the time then. I was on my way and never as present [as now]."
Today Oscar is 10 and "Jossi" 13.
"We're a good family. We have so much fun together! Both Oscar and Jossi are totally different individuals and at the same time similar in some strange way. They are both very creative without us having needed to push them. Oscar plays the guitar and Jossi is serious about dance."

How are you as a mother?
"Great! And if I wasn't great, then the kids would set me straight. Of course I can worry sometimes… that they won't be happy or that something will go wrong. One wants them to feel inside that they are OK. But maybe that's not something you always can count on? They also grow up so fast it's hard to keep up. My daughter is a teenager! Where did all those years go?"

They spent the summer in Marbella, Spain, as usual. The family goes there on all their school breaks. If Marie could get her way through, they would move there full-time tomorrow, but the kids feel they should wait, for now.
"I love Spain, it's so powerful somehow. It's beautiful and I love the heat. We have several English and Swedish friends there. I also think that one learns so much when you see new places, when you leave the old things you are used to in Sweden. When you widen your horizons you evolve."
The last four years Marie Fredriksson has been on a totally different type of journey. One feels that she has evolved. I'm glad we chose her as the Tara award winner this year!

Translated by Judith Seuma, with the assistance of Thomas Evensson and Lars-Erik Olson. This article is reprinted with the kind permission of Tara magazine, which retains all copyright. Further reposting/translation of this article is specifically not allowed.

This article was written for an earlier version of The Daily Roxette.
Technical errors may occur.

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November 9th, 2006

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