A Rainbow of Hope

Author: Melinda Goedeke

I remember this moment in time clearly – standing in my office holding my friend Pat’s hand listening as her words tumbled awkwardly yet resolutely out of her mouth and tears quietly cascaded  down her cheeks. “Now, I don’t even have hope.”  Her son died just days before from an overdose which though not surprising to her still caught her off guard. In that moment of pain, she shared with me that through all the worry, all the scares, all the failed treatments, she had always had hope; hope was her lifeline.  I didn’t ask for more explanation as none was needed.  I understood.  Hope is what  I hang on to when I feel in total despair; when I know in my gut that what could happen likely will happen.  Hope gave me the strength to pick up the shards strewn wildly across my heart time after time when Laura was in her deepest depression or most meandering mania.  If not for hope, I wouldn’t have driven two hours every day to see her at the Melrose Eating Disorder Treatment Center where she tried to find a way to ignore the voices in her head while she hid cupcakes in the lobby plants.   I wouldn’t have snuggled next to her, our legs entwined softly telling her she was going to be okay while secretly wondering if I was lying to her or to myself.  I wouldn’t have forgiven her over and over for actions I couldn’t understand and words too harsh to repeat when she curled up in a ball under her covers snuggling with her blanky and kitty mumbling in despair,  “I’m sorry” – not an infant in distress but a grown woman in crisis.  

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” – Desmond Tutu

When my daughter was alive, I had this hope. Real hope.  I had hope that bipolar treatments would improve.  I had hope that Laura would take her meds consistently.  I had hope that she would find happiness and peace within her.  I had hope that she would turn 30, and I would see her laughing whimsically with the children she adopted.  I had hope that she and her brother Paul would live long and take care of us when we became frail and in need of help. In retrospect,  my hope was both false and real.  I believed in her, and I also believed that my unrelenting drive to keep her alive would work simply because I was her mother.  But even a mother cannot stop the slings and arrows of bipolar.  I couldn’t even begin to understand her demons, but I hoped she was able to orchestrate the nightmare they played in her mind over and over. I like to believe that she hoped for that too, but her final actions tell me otherwise.   

For a while, just like Pat, I lost all hope when Laura died. My grief pushed hope deep into my toes where it settled in creating blisters with each step but somehow reminding me that I was still alive.  Maybe, just maybe I could have hope again- hope for healing through this neverending  unfathomable grief. Though I look for Laura everywhere, I  know that  hope is not going to bring her back, but it might just bring me back. I can never return to the person I was before Laura’s death, but I can let go of the person I was, at least some of her.  Though difficult to say, maybe Laura’s death has given me something I didn’t know I needed.  I listen differently.  I see differently.  I love differently.  I am different.  Oh it isn’t all rainbows and butterflies as I feel bigger emotions now which often knock me to the ground, but I do have hope. 

I hope that bipolar disorder will be cured. .

I hope that my painful experience will offer comfort to another in grief.

I hope that my words, my actions and my daughter’s memory will give others hope. 

I hope that Laura continues to stay alive in my heart bringing me joy, not despair.

I hope again.  

And it is good. 

Today,  Laura is dancing on the other side of the rainbow, watching me and hoping for me. 

Of that, I am certain. 

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