J.R., Sue Ellen, Bobby, Pam, Miss Ellie, and even Ray and Lucy. If you’re over 40 years of age (maybe even younger), as you read those names you probably pictured Larry Hagman sporting an evil grin and a 10-gallon hot or maybe the sultry Victoria Principal clad in a gorgeous designer outfit and sporting flawless hair and make-up.
Most of us remember watching Dallas’ March 21st cliff-hanger that brought the 1979-1980 season to an end. In case you didn’t see it, JR Ewing (Larry Hagman) was shot and left for dead; because of Hagman’s week-to-week contract negotiations, he didn’t return to the show until November 21, leaving the show’s writers scrambling to write scripts and viewers to wonder for 8 long months, “Who shot JR?”
A few years later, Patrick Duffy, the boyishly-handsome star who played JR’s long-suffering younger brother Bobby, decided to leave the show to “pursue other opportunities”. Dallas writers killed him off in spectacular fashion, and Duffy exited, leaving viewers stunned and upset. Unable to parlay his performance as Bobby Ewing into a film career or a starring role on another television show, Duffy was ready by the Fall of 1986 to return to Southfork and to sparring with his big brother. The problem was, he — or Bobby, that is — was dead and buried and had been mourned for an entire season.
That didn’t stop the producers and writers of Dallas; in the now-famous (or infamous) scene in which Pam wakes up to discover Bobby calmly taking a shower, he was brought back to life. Dallas fans were expected to accept the implausible idea that the entire 1985-1986 season — 31 episodes in all — had been a dream. Many viewers did just that, and the show continued to air for 5 more years.
I was not one of those fans; disgusted at what I considered a soap opera-ish stunt, that “shower scene” episode was the last I watched. I couldn’t believe that writers and some viewers alike could disregard the fact that if the 1985-1986 season of Dallas had been a dream, so was that same season of Knot’s Landing (the Dallas spinoff set in California and built around the lives of a Ewing sibling and his neighbors) in which Bobby’s death was mourned. How ridiculous, I thought, that the producers thought it was okay to just erase an entire season’s events and expect us to blithely go back to pre-Bobby’s-death as if it had never happened.
Over a decade later, however, my righteous indignation forgotten, I’ve found myself longing for my own “shower scene”.
When my husband was diagnosed with cancer . . .
As he was enduring medical procedures and chemo . . .
In the days and months and years since his passing . . .
How often I’ve thought, “I want my old life back”.
But that’s now how it works. Unlike a team of Hollywood writers, the One who writes the scripts of our lives is in complete control, doesn’t make mistakes, and has no need of Dallas-style shower scenes. Instead, He walks with us through the difficult days, and He invites us to trust in Him.
Only in Him.