A Sign of Hope

A Sign of Hope

There is nothing I have ever felt worse than despair. It is a feeling so hopeless that your heart literally aches inside your chest. You can feel your ribcage cracking under the weight of it and you think you’re going to choke to death on your own tongue as the pain crawls up your throat.

When I moved to Pennsylvania a few weeks after the fire, I was drunk on a mental cocktail of total despair and utter shock. When I wasn’t in a dissociative state, I was trying to crawl out of my own skin to escape the pain that tortured me. At that time, this was the lowest that I had ever felt.

One day, I was shopping at an antique shop when I spotted a carved wooden sign that said “HOPE”. I stared at it blankly and thought about how much I craved to feel hope inside me. It was only a few dollars, but I didn’t buy it because I wasn’t alone that day and I was embarrassed about showing weakness as if somehow buying that tiny piece of wood would expose my hopelessness to the world. I went home and I dwelled on the HOPE sign. I had to have it. I wanted it as a reminder that I shouldn’t give up. So I went back a few days later and I bought it. I brought it home and stuck it on a shelf where I could view it every day.

Since then, I have moved six times. I have experienced despair far worse than what I was feeling when I bought that sign and I have come close to completely giving up on life. I have carried the little wooden sign to every new home and through every new experience. I have used it to remind myself that I should always be hopeful, not just in spite of the hardships but also to celebrate good fortune.

A few years ago, I got my first tattoo. It’s a permanent reminder to never give in to adversity. I can’t wash it off and I have no regrets because to me HOPE is a strength. I begin and end every day with hope on my left arm and I can feel my heart soaring inside.


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