Hope just climbed up onto my lap, wiped my tears away and gave me a hug was the email message that I received from a friend in response to the news I had sent her last week. This caused me to remember that sometime after Hope was born, I had the luxury of holding her at an event that her mom and I were at while we sat talking about the concept of hope. At the time, I was accompanying someone through a dark night of the soul who did not believe in hope. I could not quite wrap my head around that and neither could my friend. I do not mean that as a judgment but rather as how deeply hope is rooted in me.
Among a certain group of folks, hope is meaningless and holds out falsehood. That has never been my experience and honestly, even with the very hard news that I received last week, I still believe in hope. The hard news is that the cancer is back, even with the chemo. I had hoped for a different outcome. I had wanted to remain cancer-free for a few months but that is not the case. Have I been wrong to hold on to hope these past six months? I do not think so. In fact, I would say that I have chosen to live as fully as I could even knowing that the odds were against me. Each day I prayed for joyful hope; each day, God graciously granted me that request.
I believe in miracles–I just do not want to box in the Creator of the Universe by defining what a miracle might look like. When I turned 50 a few years back, I wrote a vision statement for my life that began like this:
Life is an amazing adventure of receiving an abundance of gifts and returning them joyfully to the Giver. I live in celebration, finding God in all things, deepening my awareness that a Presence holds me lovingly and tenderly. I greet each new day with hope and happiness, expecting blessings and miracles.
Each day holds a miracle, each day can be greeted with hope and joy. I believed it then; I believe it now. What I must recognize is that hope has been dashed for many people in the week since I received my news. In the slow revealing of the devastating news to family and friends, I have witnessed Hope crawling into my lap, wiping away tears and embracing me. I think hope comes in the super-sized option too and that Hope does not disappoint. Hope may have been dashed but it is crawling up, even as I write this.
I have said before on this blog that I am not afraid to die. I had to face that reality last year going into surgery. I have known all along that this cancer is aggressive. That does not mean that I should have curled up in the corner and given up on Hope. Most of you who know me personally know I am not a quitter and I do not give up easily on impossibilities. I root around until I find a space that I am comfortable to stand in. For me, as a Catholic, I hold to the promises given to me by my faith. I have hope of an eternal Home. I know that I have Eternal Life. I believe that my sins are forgiven. My God is a loving God and this has nothing to do with punishment. All of these points are hopeful, joyous, and reason to celebrate.
That said, I also am filled with hope that each day that remains will bring a valuable lesson to me, grant me more opportunities to experience more miracles, and allow me an abundance of blessings in a myriad of ways. One of my friends in a beautiful message to me spoke of a sunset that he had seen after receiving the news. He said to me that beauty is right before us. I agree. We just need to see it! I saw that very sunset and it too stopped me in my tracks. I still want to be distracted by beauty every single chance that I have. We have choices at the rough places and I will still choose Hope because I am convinced that it will always crawl up.
Many things will try to tear down Hope. Fear is a good paralyzer. Doubt is a destroyer. False hope is Lucifer in disguise. Denial is dangerous. When I accompanied that man through his struggles with the demons in his life, he admitted to me, that though it sounded odd, he felt hopeless. Yes, that is an odd thing for someone who does not believe in Hope to say, but I liked to believe that Hope was trying hard to crawl up into his lap.
I will have more to say about where I am at in the weeks ahead. I can tell you though that most moments I have that eerie dead calm that I talked about in my last post. I feel a deep peace at my core. That is a miracle. That is Hope.
Many people have responded to the news with beautiful messages of encouragement and love. I have not been able to respond to all of them but I am most certainly grateful as they give Hope the boost needed to keep crawling up. I am touched by the many affirmations of how my life has been of value, some in ways that I never knew. This has been a rather humbling time and I have wept over most of the initial messages. Now I find myself calmer by the ones that keep coming. Each day has brought several of these blessings.
I know this news has been excruciatingly difficult for my loved ones and dear friends. Look down, please. I think you will find Hope is wanting to crawl up, wipe away your tears, and give you a hug.
How do you view life? What is your vision statement?
What is hope for you?
Hope is crawling up your leg; not dead. Look down, help her up. Let her wipe away your tears and embrace you with her feathery wings. Open my heart to all that will be. Hope, I am in your good hands. Amen.