A Crazy Little Thing Called Hope


When my mother was dying, she thought God was going to heal her.  It was a crazy little thing called hope. She thought it because He’d promised her that in the scriptures that she’d religiously memorised and spoke aloud every day.  She was a woman of faith, and that meant that even though it didn’t seem like she was being healed, she believed it with every fibre of her being.  Her faith was so strong that on the day she was admitted to hospice, she asked me to take a ‘before’ shot.

“What do you mean?”  I asked, already concerned.
“A picture of me with this tumour, before God heals me and it is gone.  It will be important evidence for when I am telling people all about it”, she asserted.  Then she stood for the photograph, beside her last bed, her tiny frame almost overwhelmed by a giant tumour in her abdomen.  She maintained this kind of denial (it was the only way I could understand it, to call it that) for as long as she could.  She held on to it valiantly.  I was so horrified by it, and by the visitors who came in and prayed healing prayers. I was afraid that she would miss the opportunity to say the things she might want to say, and to hear the things we wanted to tell her, about how much we loved her, about our need for her.  In growing desperation, I spoke to the hospice counsellor.

“We’re not built for mortality,” she explained.  “Everything about the human condition is built around the need to survive.  It is our strongest instinct, our greatest drive.  How can one face one’s own death?  There isn’t a right way.  There is only the way that works for each individual.”
I went back into my Mum’s room and sat quietly beside her.  Memorising her hands, her fingernails,  the colouration of her skin.  She seemed to be asleep. I listened to each breath, each one painfully bought.  Something broke inside me.  I think it was my heart. I thought about her beautiful self, struggling against a reality she didn’t want.  I thought about how tired she must be, fighting for air, clinging to hope.  I didn’t want to wake her, so I cried my silent screams into the sheets of her bed and drowned my despair in tears that ran all the way to the sea. My Mummy was leaving me.

And where was her God? When she needed comfort, of all the times that her faithfulness should have been repaid with peace, where was hers? My heart welled up with compassion for her, as she gripped on to her last vestiges of hope. So I stopped trying to have the conversations of dying.  I let Mum say what she needed to say, when she could; so she said what she felt to say, not what I thought she should.  I read her Psalms when she cried out.  I held her hand and I slept beside her. I did all the things a good girl should, and then: she was just gone from my world.  Her hand no longer soft in mine.  Her heart no longer loving mine.  Just gone.

And now, my friend Kellie; also, gone.  So recently that our hearts and heads can’t take it in.  She wrote to me about hope many times in the months before her treatment.  She considered calling her blog about stem cell therapy “A Crazy Little Thing called Hope”.   These are her words about hope:
“…the whole hope thing is pretty integral to me as I was seriously losing hope. Maybe I’d even lost hope – don’t tell anyone!! But just having an inkling of hope made such a difference and it was so surprising how quickly the hope gathered momentum and how it then sort of manifested its own good luck”.
Then I found this little meme and sent it to her, but now I look at it and I wonder again, where was her God?   Kellie has gone too.  And she had so much hope.  But it didn’t keep her alive.

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And then, in this dark place of loss, deep in my remembrances of these two extraordinary women, I wonder, where has my own hope gone?  Has it evaporated?  I don’t feel hopeful. Will it return? What tricks of my mind will I find to keep me pushing forward, seeking help, searching for answers?  Is there something I can do to find it, or do I have to look for it, like a tiny dandelion seed floating on the breeze, passing by right in front of me at the perfect time.  Is hope that ephemeral?  My tired brain is weary of the measured and sane approach.

Kellie was right, it is a crazy little thing, hope.
But maybe it is all we can do.
Maybe it is all we really have.

Do you have hope?

 

10 thoughts on “A Crazy Little Thing Called Hope”

  1. Hope…a little word that has taken up a lot of space in my head this year! The conclusion I’ve come to is that it’s a double-edged sword…but a necessary one.

    At times it can almost ‘string us along’, making us not give up on something that might be better put behind us (ie. a relationship that one clings on to when all reason, and everyone around, is saying there’s not point to it). It would almost be kinder to lose the hope so that you can let go.

    But on the other hand, hope is what keeps us alive, gives us that last little bit of something to keep going. In my personal experience, there have been times when hope is the veriest of slivers, hardly visible, hardly keeping me afloat. But it is still there. And I know that, for myself, the moment I were to lose all hope would be the time when I could no longer hold out against the reasons why I should not just end the pain, make it all stop.

    Hope. Small word, but a powerful one. And most definitely a crazy little thing!

  2. Your writing continues to inspire. Not just what you say but how you say it. Feel very humbled by it and proud to know you.

    1. Thanks Sheryn, I just blurt it all out and hope there isn’t too much editing to mop up afterwards. :-/ This blogging thing is quite some thing, sharing all this with so many. It is strange but so heartening. Thank you for being there with me all the way. X

    1. Thanks Annette. I know my questions will probably horrify some people, but honesty is my policy 🙂 It’s the only thing I know how to do properly, tell the truth about how I feel and what I wonder. I hope it will help people. I hope it won’t offend others. But in the end, it’s just what is going on for me and that needs no justification. Your support is ace my friend. X

  3. Oh this one got me. I am not a deeply religious person, well not in an organized religion… or organized belief at all in any way for that matter.

    I kind of wish I was that person with unshakable faith in something specific, but I’m just not.

    Health issues has made me think on hope and faith, and more in how intertwined they are for so many.

    I think for me, for now, I have to live the best I can for the day and have faith that my hope is something tangible for myself and those around me.

    Carrie

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