Before taking the role of George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life” James Stewart took a break from acting after serving his military service. The war changed him and he needed time to recoup and heal. From then on the roles he chose reflected a much deeper and multidimensional persona.
“It’s a Wonderful Life” was James Stewart’s first postwar film.
In the scene when George Bailey contemplates suicide the director Frank Capra noticed something new in Stewart’s face, something deeply raw and thoroughly human. As Capra watched Stewart’s Bailey pray to “Father in Heaven to show him the way” the director wanted to capitalize on this heartbreaking performance. He spent hours editing the film so the final cut would show the audience what he saw. The angst of a soldier.
James Stewart’s career took on a new trajectory.
In a smaller sense I can understand how James Stewart felt. I don’t claim to have experienced anything like the violence and tragedy of war. But if emotions mold a person then there’s the parallel.
I’m fighting a different kind of war, one that involves a kind of loss. Loss comes in all different forms, mostly beyond our control. Today I see life through a different lens.There’s no going back.
Recent events changed me in ways I never imagined. The Utopian life I dreamed about as a child seems unreachable. Joy, grace, gratitude and hope feel distant and unattainable.
I need to regroup. I need to rest. I need to think. I need to heal.
MS is a cruel dictator. It has the power to decide at any given moment to erase pleasure from your life. It can remove physical and spiritual abilities and frighten you beyond all measure. When that happens you don’t recognize yourself.
As the stress of our move lingered and the dismal outcome of the election hung in the balance my body began to ignore my pleas of mercy. Numbness and weakness descended, and with it the ability to walk or care for myself properly.
I’m living with the consequences of too much stress while living in a place we’re unhappy with. Our buyer pressured us to move and we had no choice. This small, dark townhouse with its thin walls was the “pick” of the litter since there are currently more renters than inventory.
Everyone tells me to rest and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. For a week I’ve stayed in my pajamas and watched television (my MS induced cog fog prevented much else) while my husband does all the work.
I cancelled our vacation (my 3rd cancellation this year.) I also cancelled Thanksgiving gatherings. Me and the hubby ate chicken and rice while watching TV in our pajamas. Not exactly the romance of yesteryear…
The election results haven’t helped. Those who know me best know how I feel about that. I can’t imagine anything productive or kind coming from the next administration and I fear for our country and its citizens.
It’s frightening to experience life beyond our control, to sit in the passenger seat unable to control the steering wheel. You can’t avoid the bad guys.
I long for my “normal” life when I can walk where and when I want, for as long and as fast as I can, without fear of fatigue or falling.
I want to travel again – anywhere – with my head held high without fear of repercussions from a country that is so divided.
Words fail me at the moment so I’m not sure how to end this post. I have no neat little ribbons to tie it in or inspiring prose to offer you.
As a writer I want to use words to soothe you. As a woman I want to say women will be treated with respect and dignity. As a patient I want to inspire others through my strong example, with hope for better research, alternate options for wellness, affordable healthcare and cures.
As a human being I want to spark others into action to fight for what’s right and good and to pray for the peace we richly deserve. And never, ever give up.
Despite all of this I have to believe, I must believe, there is more good in the world than evil and that good will always prevail.
I must believe my body will prevail. Positive thinking and a warrior attitude that nothing will get in my way. No matter how long it takes.
I’ll continue to advocate for my health and the health of others. I’ll also advocate for the health of our country.
Hope, joy, gratitude and grace will appear at my doorstep again. While I’m waiting for their appearance I’ll hold tight to the loving family and friends holding me up. They’ve never given up on me. They strengthen my resolve to fight for a better, healthier and saner world.
As Uncle Henry used to say, I hug you with my words.
(A footnote, pun intended: The feeling on my left side is coming back! I’m excited about that. Small victories are truly big ones.)
Thanks, James Stewart.