I Believe In Hope

Melissa - Slidell, Louisiana
Entered on June 25, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: hope, setbacks

I have to be honest…. when I began writing this essay, I wasn’t sure where to start. Sure, I had tons of beliefs running through my head, but which would I be able to put into words and share with the world? And then it dawned on me. Although I have many values that are held highly in my life, and many that I could discuss at length, there is one that has become so pertinent in the past three years of my life that it would seem almost a sin not to write about, so here it goes….. I believe in hope. You see, the journey to this key belief in my life began three years ago, on August 29, 2005. On that day, Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast. So many people were displaced, so many were hurt, physically, mentally, and financially, and so many lost hope. This is what happened to my family and me, and for a long time afterwards we lost hope too. I think it hit my mother the hardest. So many years of possessions, so many artifacts from her four children’s childhoods, and so many pieces of her past washed away in a few short hours. To her, it was as if her entire life before that day was stolen from her, gone in the blink of an eye, and with that, her hope seemed to wash away as well. I remember a few days after the storm, when she sent my sister and her husband to our hometown to see what was left for her, and upon hearing that nearly everything that she had held dear for so long was gone, vanished, and pulled back into the unforgiving waters of the gulf, she crumbled. As a counseling student, you try to be empathetic for one’s losses, but when it’s your mama, the woman who brought you into this world and pushed you through it, you can’t help but be completely, absolutely heartbroken. At that moment, my hope was lost too. It has been three years since my family lost their hope, and since I lost mine, but through the heartache, the rebuilding, and the mending, we also gained something back. Paradoxically, that thing we gained was exactly what we lost when the storm hit. It was our hope. You see, I believe there are two avenues a person can go down when something traumatic happens in life. One is to stay bitter, angry, depressed, and hopeless, and the other is to look towards the horizon, to breathe every breath, and to know that you are still here, still able to live, and still able to look towards the future with a sense of confidence, security, and optimism. Today, we each live life with the hope that tomorrow will be beautiful, that our lives will be fulfilled, and that our hearts will be content. We are able to look again at the rushing tide without fear, but with serenity. Today, hope is all I need.