This I Believe

Jessica - Florence, Alabama
Entered on May 7, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: courage, hope, illness

The Power of Hope

My daddy is a fighter. He has never served for my country, he is certainly not a boxer, and as far as I know he has never been in an argument, but he is the strongest fighter I know. Daddy raised my sister and me after my mother died when I was two. He listened to his best friend’s suicide message on our answering machine a day late when I was eight, and the doctors told him he would soon lose his ability to walk when I was fourteen. Today, I am twenty-one and I have never once heard him complain.

Daddy is in the severe stages of Multiple Sclerosis, with no treatment available easing his pain. The long legs that I curled up in while watching cartoons no longer have feeling and the bear hugs he used to ask for would snap him in half, but his soft voice and his strong eyes still make me feel like nothing in this world can hurt me.

Two years ago daddy walked my sister down the isle. The family was terrified because even with his cane he walks like a belligerent drunk, but we knew there was no talking him out of it. It was his oldest girl’s wedding. He was giving her away. It was so hard for him to accept the fact that he couldn’t walk it alone, that he simply refused to accept it. My sister glided through the doors on his arm and not five steps later I caught his eye. Looking at me, and then looking at her, tear slipping down his face he lifted his cane. My tears weren’t so gracious. They pounded down my face and neck and arms as he slowly made it my way. Giving my sister away, pain, happiness, and pride filled his eyes. Not because he did it for himself, but because he did it for her. At that moment I loved him more than ever before. He was beautiful.

My sister’s wedding was a life shifting experience for me. I decided at that moment of pure beauty that he would never fight this battle alone. That September, entering myself into a bike-a-thon, I began helping. I had not been on a bike in ten years. Strapping our helmets on with our spandex shorts, my sister and I began the 178 mile course in hurricane winds and pissed off sand. It was hell. Ten miles past and I was bitching, twenty more miles I was crying, and by the 30 mile mark I was praying. Feeling gone in my legs, and body exhausted, God struck me with the realization that this is what my daddy feels every morning when he pulls himself out of bed. There was no way I was stopping then. Crossing the finish line, we were surrounded by thousands of people who were all there for the exact same reason: a cure.

I believe in the power of hope. My daddy has taught me how. He hopes every day that he will be able to fish, mow the grass, or play with his grandson. I hope everyday that the next dollar raised will find the cure. I believe in the power of hope because it has kept my daddy alive. Without hope he would lose. My daddy doesn’t lose: he is a fighter.