As a gardener, hope is something that I’m familiar with. I think everyone who gardens (and those of us who don’t) who live in a climate where winters are harsh, sometimes longer than spring, summer, and fall combined, carry hope for the day when the first smell of green hits us. As I’ve watched the tulips push up, the lilacs unfold like great lavender soft serve cones, I’m reminded that hope transcends the garden.
The first involves my own little dog, Sookie. Two weeks ago, she was laying on my stomach; she wasn’t eating, and after three days was fading really fast. The vet had told us to bring her back on Wednesday when we had taken her in for an emergency check on Saturday night, but looking at her literally fade in front of my eyes, I knew that if we didn’t take her in then (Tuesday) she wouldn’t be around on Wednesday.
They did blood work, and came back with a probable diagnosis of leukemia. Her white and red blood cell count was almost non-existent. Her kidneys and liver were in failure. The prognosis wasn’t good. Sitting there in the clinic, I said my goodbyes and told her that soon the pain would be over and she’d have endless fields to run through and rabbits to chase.
The vet came back and told us to try prednisone, a cost effective cancer treatment, and that it might give her weeks, months, possibly years (but most likely weeks).
I couldn’t go back for her second blood test a few days later because it was too emotional an experience to put myself through, so I sent my brother and my father. Her red and white blood cells were right back to normal, were actually better than they should’ve been. It’s almost like a miracle has happened–and I’m taking each day with Sookie as a blessing. More walks, more scratches, more fetch.
In this situation, hope was under the wire for me. I had faith that Sookie would be taken care of, I had horrible anguish dealing with the probability of loosing her so early in her life (she’s 7 going on 8 and is really just middle aged). There was a glimmer of hope, and I held onto it, but kept everything in perspective. The reality was Sookie probably didn’t have long.
Turns out I was wrong.
The next story came about just over the course of this past week-end while I was having a fire pit with my partner, Dan, and his brother Tai and sister Yumi. We were talking about our pets and the problems, joys, and struggles we’ve experienced with them. Tai told us about his two cats that came from an adoption agency in the Philippines. Bear what a white cat with more than normal slanted eyes and a tenacious personality. But, after a break up, he had to say goodbye to Bear (who’s full name was Barry White).
As I sat and listened, I opened up my photo files and showed him a picture of my aunt’s cat, Ziggy. Ziggy was a white cat that came from the Philippines who had apparently belonged to a couple who realized they weren’t cat people anymore and wanted a dog instead.
We talked a bit about commonalities between the two cats and after a few minutes realized that Bear was in fact Ziggy. I let my aunt know via WhatsApp and she was shocked, amazed, and delighted to know that Ziggy had a history.
Tai is planning on coming to see Ziggy/Bear in the next few weeks once my aunt and my mom get back from British Columbia.
In this case, hope that was frozen returned like a rain in a desert that no one suspects will see moisture.
Hope is a bookmark. Hope is a pause, sometimes wrapped in reality, sometimes buttressed with fantasy. Hope at it’s purest is nothing without faith, faith grounded in reality. Faith can be lost and won in a moment, or it can be a steady quiet thread that runs through our every day.
It is the trust that even in the face of the greatest challenge, the most insurmountable odds, things can and do turn around. It is the belief that miracles can and do happen–maybe not in the way a selfish, child-like need to own or to have our own way or things wants them to, but more along the lines of God moving in, around, and through our lives in ways that bring us to better places, through pain and suffering.