Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Sound of Hope

speak to me

Today at work a very odd thing occurred. I heard the sound of hope.

I have been in a training all week at work. This afternoon the focus was on various disabilities, and how it feels to have different type of disabilities. We had various stations that we would go to, and someone would lead us through an activity. One of these was the experience of being blind. We wore black-out glasses, and were led by another worker through the courtyard. After the exercise we sat and discussed what it was like to maneuver the space without our vision. We talked about how difficult it was for parents of disabled children, and how they managed, given their child's disability.

I shared that my husband Michael had been diagnosed years prior with a brain tumor, and how there were times when we would awake to a completely new disability. Some days he couldn't walk, some days he couldn't talk, and other days he had no awareness of what was going on. As his spouse, and caretaker, I never knew what I was waking up to. I would have to just figure out how to care for him each day based on what abilities he had. It was very difficult, as I was never really prepared for any of this.

Now earlier in the training I mentioned to the group that I was a widower, but people can forget some of the details. Just before this conversation, I had been talking to one of the women, who shared that the tattoo on the base of her head symbolized her being a survivor of cancer. I shared that I had similar tattoos on my back in honor of my husband.

Well, after the discussion about the challenges of being faced with Michael's daily manifestation of his tumor, the woman who survived cancer turned to me, and with so much hope in her voice, asked how my husband was doing now. I paused, and looked into her face, it broke my heart to have to tell her that he had died. My heart didn't break for me, as this is something I have learned to discuss without as much pain. My heart broke for her. I know how fragile a survivor still feels. I know how they so want to always hear stories of survival. I saw it in her eyes. They looked sad, met mine, and she offered her condolence.

I thanked the group, who all joined in saying how sorry they were to hear of my loss. I then quickly moved the subject forward, allowing us to return to the original discussion.

In my drive home tonight, I realized that I was somehow carrying that feeling of hope with me. I was doing this unconsciously since the discussion earlier in the afternoon. It felt so good, and at the same time, it felt so odd. I haven't felt this type of hope in such a long time. The hope I felt was specifically tied to Michael. I was feeling hope for Michael.

So odd, yet so familiar. Even writing, and thinking, about this makes me smile. I remember this feeling. I have it symbolized in Kanji on my back.

What strikes me right now, is how powerful the sound of hope is in the human voice. It has a spirit to it that feels amazing. It is so uplifting. It carries you just slightly off the ground.

What I am recognizing is, that I want to maintain some of that hope. Yes, it sounds strange, but I want to maintain some of my hope for Michael. It was so empowering, and it carried me through such dark and difficult days. I know that in the past, my hope was meant to hold out for the best, for recovery, or for extended time. Perhaps I can tap into that hope again, and allow it, still tied up in Michael, to carry me through my days ahead.

I want to hear the sound of hope.

I want to recognize the sound of hope.

I want to feel the spirit of hope.


  1. The feeling of hope...oh ya, I remember that. It's been asleep in me for a long time. It's poked its head out for a moment or two and then crawled back into the cave of grief. But as I read about how yours appeared today, I could feel mine rise a millimetre. And I remembered how good that felt. Thank you, Dan. I hope your feeling of hope sticks around for a long time. Love ya!

  2. I needed to read this today. I had my first bad dream about Cliff last night and am sitting here with lip quivering at my desk. I know it's only a dream but it has really affected me.

    Like Deb you spread your hope to me. It is contagious.

    Love you Dan x

  3. I love this. I'm glad you are feeling hopeful. What was it that Emily Dickinson said... "Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without words." Something like that. I know that hope is still perched in my soul, and probably she's singing, but sometimes she sings SO softly that I can't hear her at all...