"Once you choose hope, anything is possible." ~Christopher Reeve
There was a time, not really that long ago, when I did not want to choose hope. Possibility was a word that applied to other people, so why would I care about hope?
To take that thought a step farther, hope seemed to be a betrayal. What could I hope for? Healing, ugh. Happiness, not likely. Joy, love, purpose...without Phil? Where would I find happiness if not in his arms? How would life have meaning if not shared with the man I loved? If I could "get better," where would my memories go? Would recovery mean forgetting the life I loved so much? I did laugh, I did celebrate milestones with the kids, I did get back to work, I did fix the sink myself, I did bury the dog after he died (long story), and I did wake up and face each and every day knowing I would face it alone. But I did not hope.
I still remember the day I felt my first stirring of hope, it was the day that I spoke to another widow for the first time. I looked into the eyes of a woman who had walked the same path I was unwillingly traveling and found compassion, empathy, and yes, hope. She told me things would get better. She told me I would never forget. She told me to be gentle with myself as I found my way in this new world. Her name is Connie, and I won't share her exact age ;) but she was married to her husband for 52 years. She welcomed me into her home, and into her heart.
When I set up the meeting with Connie, four months after Phil's death, I wasn't expecting to have anything in common with her. She was married to her husband for a long time, she lost him after a lengthy illness, and she came from a different generation; yet when we sat down together in her cozy kitchen I discovered that she knew how much I was hurting, and she also understood that there was more hurt ahead. I was amazed at the number of times we finished each other's sentences, and by the instant connection I felt with this warm, wonderful woman. But most of all, I was lifted up by meeting a survivor face-to-face. This woman had suffered the loss of a man with whom she shared her whole life, and was still finding joy in her daily life. Meeting Connie proved to me that choosing hope was indeed possible.
Seven years after the loss of her husband (and after telling me she was sure she would never have another man in her life), Connie has found new love. When you choose hope, you never know where the possibilities will take you.