Hope is a funny sort of thing. It springs up at you, out of nowhere sometimes, to tackle you around the waist and hold you down until you listen to what it has to say.
I wrestle with hope, most often through early morning hours. I don't want it to claim me, don't want it to grab me from behind and I don't want to listen to what it's telling me.
Hope can cost quite a bit, Disappointment stings to the core, makes me wonder if I dreamed it all up in the first place. I've followed hope before, and tasted only gall.
But learning not to hope has it's downsides, too. Without hope, life is dark, dreary. It weighs more than it should, more than it needs to. And everything becomes anticipatory of Bad Things, the kind that lurked under bed and in closets when I was a child.
When Mirren was born, I lost sight of hope. I couldn't find it, not for her or for me or for the two of us together. I knew it was there, I could feel it, smell it, taste it, but I couldn't see it and I certainly couldn't grab it.
For months, hope and I fought. We wrestled, though that dark time when I so much wanted to feel like it was a new day. Like Jacob, I couldn't see what was attacking me. I couldn't feel the thing that so badly wanted me in its grip. Instead, I just tried to keep my footing through the next round, knowing morning had to come eventually.
Also like Jacob, I emerged from that fight with a strange sort of victory. A new name, a new piece of me, more resilient and positive than the pieces I've known before. And a year of struggle, so profound in some ways that I may limp from it for the rest of my life, though in the end I think it will make me stronger, not bitter and lost and sad.
For all that I couldn't find hope when things looked better than they do now, these days I find it everywhere.
Today, hope took the face of a little girl discovering balloons. Shrieks of joy echoed through the halls, and hope unfurled a tendril that played, gentle-like, through my hair. When I saw Dave go shovel snow for the sheer joy of it (he'd never done it before), the tendril began to wrap around me. And when I watched the sleepy girl giggling on her back on the floor because it was too much effort to get up, I gave in and let it hold me.
May you be held tonight, friends, no matter your struggle.