“Perhaps expanding on what hope means to you,” a friend wrote in the feedback she gave for my new photo essay book, to be published in May. In the book, Nevergone: Reframing the Death and Grieving of the One You Love, through intricate Photo-shopped pictures and short essays, I explore different ways one grieves and may view death. At the beginning and end of the book I wish for hope for my readers. But I had not expanded on the meaning of hope, even though it is the backbone of the book, and a vital resource for surviving tough times.
When immobilized by a problem, like writing about hope or being grateful, I make lists. It’s a way to stop procrastinating and begin to wade into the challenge painlessly. So my problem of hope became a list.
What hope means. To me:
Believing in new possibilities, believing there is more.
Light in the darkness.
Emily Dickinson’s “thing with feathers that perches in the soul.”
Positive thinking, Wishing.
Something that makes us stronger and braver than we ever believed we could be.
Daring to imagine that everything will work out okay.
The thing that encourages me to keep living, loving, searching, …singing to the moon, despite what life has thrown at me.
The voice in my head that whispers “maybe” when all else is screaming “no way.”
At nighttime I took the problem to bed, and when morning came, I took it with me on a hike in the deep dark woods. There, on steep slopes covered with decayed leaves and the debris of winter thawing, growing wedged between rocks and fallen branches, I found tiny wildflowers called snowdrops blooming brightly in sparse patches of light.
What does hope mean to you?