Its a wonderful lifeIn the beginning of the epic story It’s a Wonderful Life, the camera pans to a cluster of stars way up in the sky and the audience is privy to the conversation between two angels.  They talk of George Bailey’s dilemma down on earth.

You know what I mean, right?  Picture that in your head, because this story I’m about to tell you goes kind of like that, too.  Think of those voices, of Joseph and Franklin.  Then secure in your mind the image of Clarence.

Joseph doesn’t want to send Clarence because he’s afraid that Clarence will do more harm than good. Franklin is certain that Clarence is exactly the remedy needed to save George and bring he and Mary back together surrounded by family and friends.

In the end, Clarence is sent. Annoying and unwelcome by George Bailey, he is there to do a job. He bumbles through it successfully, at which time – poof – he disappears and the only reminder of him is the ringing of a bell on a Christmas tree.

Hold those thoughts – the voices, that firmament of stars – in your mind and see an alternative version of this playing out another way.


Franklin:  Hello, Joseph. Trouble?

Joseph: Looks like we’ll have to send someone down. A couple named Linda and Bill need our help.

Franklin: Tell me about them, Joseph.

Joseph: They met in 1992 and had a whirlwind romance. They were married in ’93. Linda had 2 daughters already, and they have since added 3 more to their home.  They have had bumpy times over the years, like all marriages do, but none of that compares to their recent troubles.

Franklin: Tell me about their recent troubles, Joseph.

Joseph: Sir, if I did, they would sound mundane to you as a fellow angel, perhaps to many, even those who are not angels. But they are very real to them. These troubles have been taking their toll every day for quite awhile now.

Franklin: Tell me how they are in the good times, Joseph.

Joseph: Oh, it’s sickeningly sweet, sir. Even after 22 years together, they hold hands and hug and kiss. At least once a year, they slip away from home, leaving the kids in good hands, to have time to reconnect as a couple.  They enjoy each other’s company and go out together often without others, just the two of them.  They each pursue their own interests as well, but never at the expense of their time together. They plan elaborate gifts for each other, often gifts of service, and have a playfulness in private that isn’t often seen in a couple who have surpassed 20 years. They are something else, those two.

Franklin: And lately, Joseph?

Joseph: Not so good, sir. A few major issues stand between them. A lot of pain.

Franklin: Perhaps their relationship was simply not meant to be, Joseph. Has anyone thought of that? It’s unfortunate, but it sometimes happens.

Joseph: That’s just it, sir. Of the many couples we see, theirs is the type of relationship that should make it. They have love. They make each other laugh. They are compatible in so many ways that most couples aren’t. Many people are pulling for them.  If they don’t make it, sir, I fear there could be others who lose faith in love.

Franklin: Oh, that would be terrible. Yes, this is serious indeed. We’ll have to think through this carefully. How dire is their situation?

Joseph: There’s been a reprieve, some progress made, but I can’t say how long it will last. We should act quickly, sir.

Franklin: I have just the thing, Joseph. Cancer.

Joseph:  Cancer, sir? Isn’t that a bit harsh?

Franklin: It’s a serious situation, Joseph. We need something serious to focus the two of them, so they will pull together in a positive way, to take their minds away from those mundane issues that are wearing them down.

Joseph: But CANCER, sir?

Franklin: We’ll give them a type that has a good prognosis.  We’ll watch over them. There will be many who love them who will help them through – many prayers.  They’ll come out of it stronger than ever.

Joseph: I trust your wisdom, sir. I’ll see to it immediately.


The movie It’s a Wonderful Life is more than just a love story. It’s a reminder that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts – that a life well lived doesn’t lack for troubles, but comes to grips with them with the help of family and friends, and occasionally complete strangers who claim to be angels.

So here’s the deal.  My husband has a lump in his neck. It’s cancer, and I’ve decided to name the tumor Clarence.  And with the support of all our family and friends, we’re going to get through this and by the time we have our Christmas tree up, Clarence will have disappeared without any evidence he was ever there, and when we hear the ringing of a little bell, we’ll nod and smile.  We all just have to believe.

We’re not there yet. Christmas is months away. For now, this next part of our journey together is just beginning, Bill’s and mine. It will include surgery and beams of radiation and chemotherapy.

Even though we make our plans, sometimes life leads us in a different direction, and sometimes it’s the way we need to go for reasons we can’t even conceive of yet. This path isn’t one we planned for or wanted to take, but we’re taking it together.  That’s what matters.


Clarence is gone. He was ruthlessly cut out in July of this year. After that, the area that he called home was blasted with 6 weeks of radiation therapy so it would be completely inhospitable for any progeny Clarence might have left behind.

Bill and I are doing fine. Better than fine – we’re doing great.

Thank you, Clarence!


08/21/2017 About a year after he was declared free of cancer, our marriage had a death blow from which we could not recover. I un-published so many blog posts, including this one, because it just hurt way too much. But it happened and these are my words, this is my truth. What I felt, I felt. So here it stands again, for what it’s worth. Just one chapter in the rise and fall of a marriage. Life goes on.