What is it like to be running for President of The United States and see one of the most important people in your life be “called Home” one day before the election? I probably will never know. What is it like to lose a son to one of the most relentless forms of disease known to man? I may never know. What is like to lose hope? That sentiment, I am all too familiar with.
Hope is a state of mind, usually intensified with a request for help, a prayer. It’s remaining optimistic when all signs and situations point toward negativity. And at some point, unfortunately, this despair creeps up on us like a thief in the night, robbing us of our courage and our belief in a miracle. It’s in that moment of anguish that we begin to ridicule ourselves, essentially pointing fingers that frequently are aimed at ourselves. I could have prayed harder, I could have spent more time with that person, if only I hadn’t lost hope. Our initial tribulation has now become this vicious cycle of grief.
Often I hear of such events becoming a method of which one’s heart and mind are accustomed to. I believe this to be more of a delusion from reality in order to protect our sensitive selves because absolutely nothing and no one on this Earth can prepare any one individual for situations of such magnitude. How do we rid our minds of this habitual blame, how do we progress, how do we gain an ounce of hope back for the next affliction that inevitably will burden our hearts in the future? Most importantly, how do we find the strength to hold on to that hope, however minute it might be, even in the face of life’s seemingly merciless manifestations?
I do not have all the answers to these questions, but I do know that we are all only human. I do know that we are all fallible at times, but that hope embodies no such falseness just as losing hope substantiates our nature. Additionally, I know that the capabilities of mankind include a resolution to pick ourselves back up again. The backbone for this apparently monumental action is always present. When we are able to grasp that will, then I think hope immediately ensues.
Shortly after I lost my job of almost three years in 2008, my mom’s older brother passed away at a very young age, from emphysema and related complications. It was one morning, during a heavy hearted conversation with my mother, questioning God’s existence and the loss of hope, that I discovered the ugly truth behind all of the insecurities and sexual anxieties that had developed within my current relationship – my boyfriend was hiding and dealing with his own startling addictions. The holidays crept up on us as they do almost every year of one’s adulthood, my mother didn’t decorate for the first time ever, I didn’t go home and my dad resorted back to pills. On Super Bowl Sunday in February of 2009, after a self-destructive tryst with an ex-boyfriend, my current boyfriend and I decided to end our two plus year relationship.
The following April, after receiving my tax return, I was planning the solo trip of a lifetime to Italy – a dream I had had for years. As I was calculating the cost of an Amtrak ride from Rome to Florence, I received a phone call from my mother informing me that my dad was in the hospital. I wasn’t too alarmed; though I had a slight flashback to that night when I was fifteen-years-old and I came home to discover my father’s lifetime addiction to downers had left him passed out at the wheel of his vehicle at a stop light. Continuing to research airfares, the phone rang again. It was my mom. Without hesitation and with an extraordinary amount of calm in her voice, she robotically said, “He has lung cancer and a brain tumor.” I released a dubious laugh, wondering where my mom had attained such dark humor, and quickly demanded, “You’re joking, right?” She replied with the opposite of what I was hoping for – Hope again. Where must have I procured all of this hope?
My legs forgot how to walk, in that instant, and I collapsed onto my carpeted bedroom floor. Many emotions pulsated through me as I struggled to hold the cell phone to my ear – anger, sadness, shock and back to anger. My mirrored closet door was a morbid participant, serving as a visual stimulant to the already extreme circumstances. After cursing God, life, and hope, like a reflection to my mother’s thoughts not so many months ago after my uncle’s passing, I gained composure. I returned to the computer and began researching airfares again. Two days later, I was on a plane. Instead of excitedly landing in Rome, I was woefully landing in the other city of fountains, Kansas City, to begin what would be the next three months of my life.