She Carried Hope
Written by Debbie Hornsby
Standing there looking out at the ocean, her hair blowing wildly around her head, Sarah knew that this was the place. This was the end, which would be the beginning. She touched the little box in her pocket, she smiled. This little box that she had carried with her for so many years had stilled her heart when it was overwhelmed. It had brought comfort, being able to touch it when difficulties came. This was the box that she held unto when she couldn't stop the tears from coming. It had been years now and the whispers that had swirled around her were now blown away in the wind. She looked hard into the cold biting wind and grinned. She had thought maybe she wouldn't make it, but she had persevered. She had held her head up in the face of adversity. There was a feeling of victory that tugged at her heart, today was not a hard day. Today there were no tears and that alone was a victory.
Turns out giving birth was not even the hardest part. It was the stares and gossip that were hard in the beginning. It was the fact that they didn't want her to keep the baby; they wanted her to keep it a secret. That was hard and in the end she said no. It was the wearing your failure on the outside and yet loving so much what was growing on the inside, that was hard. She loved her baby, she felt her baby and this baby was no mistake. These things were hard, but she was harder.
She set her mind like stone, unmovable; no matter the stares or who turned their back upon her she would celebrate this baby. Finally they told her she was having a girl, a sweet baby girl. Celebrate, she told herself, “even if I am all by myself I will celebrate her.” She held her head high and she walked with dignity. Even in church they shunned her and claimed it was nothing to be celebrated. She choose to not withdraw, she did not defend herself or make light of her situation. She simply was strong. She made the hard decisions that most young women would choose to escape from. There was no emergency exit as far as she was concerned. This was her baby, her girl and there was no plan B. The harder choice was hers and hers alone. To love and lay her life down for this little girl, to endure the gossip and shame others would put upon her. This was hard, but even this was not the hardest part.
She remembers it, the hardest part. She was seven months into the pregnancy, after picking out clothes and shoes, after buying a bassinet and a car seat that was when it got hard. She knew something didn't feel right, she felt crampy and tired. She started bleeding and then she went to the hospital. She was told she was in labor, it was too early. She watched them run around her in a flurry as they got her admitted and gave her medication to stop the labor. She willed herself to stop, but her body was not listening to her heart. In the end, it betrayed her. She was not strong enough to stop it, and they began preparing her for delivery.
It wasn’t the physical act now that they were worried about, that would take care of itself. It was the emotional aspect now. They tell her, her baby will die. She doesn't believe it. They speak quietly in hushed tones, they call her parents and she continues to speak to her baby in between contractions. She rubs her stomach and sings to her, all the while insisting that her baby girl will not die. Then they tell her to push and in one easy push out comes the sweet baby girl.
They swaddle her and lay her on her stomach. She cries and the baby cries just a little bit and then she stops….everything goes into slow motion. The nurse takes her baby, she begs the nurse to bring her back and the nurse does, but her baby is still. Her baby is quiet. She is gone, they tell her. She holds her, she rocks her, and she sings to her and this, this is the hardest part of her life. There is nothing that compares to this moment. This moment of holding her precious baby in her arms and she is still and cold and somewhere in the stillness people are talking, but all she can do is cry and kiss her baby. “She is kissed by angels now”, someone says to her. Sarah falls into the numbness that grief brings, her eyes staring but not really seeing. She clings to her baby as they try to get her to turn loose. They leave her alone and Sarah unswaddleds her baby and looks at her little hands and little toes. Tears fall onto her baby, and finally she dries the tears that have fallen on her precious baby. Sarah wraps her back up, she lies back on the bed holding her and waits for someone to come in and take her daughter away. Sarah weeps bitterly into her pillow as they take her hope away.
She remembers this was the hardest part, the unexpected part. This was the heartache that almost sank her. It wasn't gossip or stares, it wasn't rejection or judgment, it was death. It was a future not lived, a hope gone, an entire picture of her future now rearranged. This had been the hardest part, unexpected loss. Weeks turned to months and months turned to years.
Now here she was, standing on the edge of the huge ocean, hope filling her heart. She had survived, some would even say thrived. She had kept living when she didn't think she could. She kept breathing and moving even though her heart was shattered into a million tiny pieces. There had been a grace collision somewhere in the midst of all the pain. A friend who had come alongside of her, grace and mercy that had been poured out and she had found the strength to carry on. It wasn't easy, every day was a new challenge, wrapped with pain until finally it was duller. It was never gone; even now it was her constant companion. Her heart was larger now, it had to be. She couldn't possibly have contained all the sorrow with the joy that came. Her heart had to grow just as surely as life had to change.
More children came, they were loved dearly. To have lost one causes you to hold on that much tighter and so she did. Her husband loved her and she loved him and they built a life together that was solid and messy, but beautiful all the same. She looked at him often and wondered how she could have not known that life could be this good. If only she had known that this love would come, maybe it would have dulled the pain somewhat, made it easier to let go. If only she had known there was really true love, not perfect but true. If she had known that more children would never replace Hope, but she would find herself loving them and experiencing joy again. Maybe if she would have known these things the journey might have been different. Not that life was perfect and it was somehow all better, it was still at times hard, but she had already lived through the hardest of things, so she stood strong when the storms came. She was unmoved by them, for she knew she would survive. She knew it would work out, one way or the other.
So here she was, patting the little box and looking out at the vast ocean. As far as she could see it was water and sand. She pulled the box out and opened it gently and took the tiny hospital bracelet out. She remembered the nurse asking, what would you like her name to be? She could still remember the effort it took to speak her name. Hope, she had said. Her name is Hope. The seasoned nurse choked up and made eye contact, placed her hand on hers and said quietly, that’s a beautiful name.
She holds the hospital bracelet gently and she looks out at the ocean and she feels the winds of change blow through her tangled hair. In the distance she hears her children laughing, and it makes her heart swell with joy. There is life still to be celebrated. She knows now the hope of heaven. She doesn't have to keep carrying hope in a tiny little box, because now she sees Hope all around her. She will keep the tiny little box with the hospital bracelet, but now she can leave it at home. Today she will tuck it away with handmade Birthday cards and noodle necklaces from her kids and she will have hope, not in a tiny little box but in a great big heart that knows the giver of all hope.
She will never understand, but she will always have hope. She has hope today and she has hope for the future. She pictured them now as two in the same, both named hope. This was the new beginning, the letting go, the stepping out, the hope for tomorrow and she smiled at the future as she put the little box back in her pocket. Every day Sarah could honor Hope and share hope, but not from a tiny little box, instead from a life well lived and a story of Hope shared.
- March 03, 2014
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