It’s such an intangible thing, yet so powerful. I’ve found that I write a lot about it in my books without even knowing. I certainly didn’t set out to, yet as I move my characters along in their journey, I find that Hope in something is what keeps them going when things get tough.
Maybe it’s because I can relate.
Last night we, for whatever reason, pulled out the videos of our children when they were young. My oldest playing with a baby sibling. A couple of toddlers walking around in the playroom, toting noisy light-up toys behind them, or running across the room to jump into my and my husband’s arms, giggling hysterically when we’d fall back with them. Laughing at the dogs licking them or the cupcake they’d smashed on their head. The wonder of Santa and a first choo-choo train ride. Playing in the sandbox. Chasing seagulls on the beach. Eating cotton candy in the wind.
Pure, unadulterated little people with the world at their feet. They could become anything.
Such Hope we parents have for our children. So much that we want for them.
Yet, sometimes, there’s that one instant when everything crystallizes and makes you face your biggest fears and all you have left to you is Hope.
I watched the video of one of my children as a three-month-old on the day before this child developed viral meningitis and ended up in the hospital for four days. The four longest days of my life. We didn’t know if our baby was going to survive; there was nothing that could be done for viral meningitis at the time. No antibiotics because it’s a virus.
However, we didn’t even know it was meningitis at first, let alone what type, so we had to watch this tiny child go through a spinal tap, then be hooked up to all sorts of monitors and IV bags. Once the diagnosis of meningitis came back, we then had to wait for cultures to come back three days later to see if it was viral or bacterial.
Like I said, the four longest, hardest days of my life.
I saw my baby laying there, in this sterile metal cage they called a crib, fighting to get well, and it was awful. What if this child we’d wanted so badly and had come to love so fiercely died? What if this perfect little baby ended up with residual damage from the toll on the body? What if the child we’d come to know wasn’t the child we had to take home – or worse, didn’t get to take home? What lasting effects would there be?
Watching myself in that video hurt. Painfully. I cried while I was watching it and I’m crying while I write this. There I was, so happy, so carefree. The only worry in my head that day was what I’d make for dinner. Life was good.
In the space of a few hours, everything changed.
God, how we Hoped through that ordeal. How we prayed. The neighbors got a prayer chain together, not something I’d ever really thought about before. But I did then. And I Hoped it’d work.
And then, wonderfully, miraculously, fabulously, my baby started to get better. The fever dissipated and this child fought back and we could bring our sweet precious baby home four days later.
Yet, still I Hoped.
Because for the next years as this child developed, I watched every milestone, checked every statistic. Made sure the diapers were what they were supposed to be. The first steps, first words, first somersault were where they were supposed to be.
With everyone we passed, I kept Hoping. That no one would hurt my child. That there’d be no bullies. That the teachers would be kind and inspiring. That a bone wouldn’t get broken.
Not all of those would come true, of course, but still, you do Hope. You Hope that whatever trial and tribulation befall your child is the worst that will ever happen to him or her. And when something worse happens, you Hope that that will be the last thing.
This child is now a teenager. I’m happy to report there is no residual damage at all to the high fever and trauma this kid’s body went through. But I still Hope. I Hope that there will be no car accidents. No stupid teenage antics (hey, I can Hope, right?). That Significant Others won’t break that sweet, sweet heart or spirit. That there are friends and good times and great memories.
That this child makes it to adulthood as a happy, functioning member of society who goes on to live a happy, healthy life, able to find happiness, and someday knows what it’s like to love a precious, tiny baby who you’d give your life for if only to see a smile.
It seems you never stop Hoping.