A Question of Hope

Joanne - Gobles, Michigan
Entered on April 5, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: question
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I believe in questions. Some questions probably have no answers, and, even if they did, those answers would not change anything. Some questions change everything. Either way, I believe they are all are worth asking.

I was widowed at the age of 28. My husband was brilliant, charismatic, and talented. He was also tormented by the demons in his own mind that I could never see or chase away. It was a classic Dr. Jeckle/ Mr. Hyde situation when the dark in him would surface. I thought love was enough. It was not. One night his Mr. Hyde took a handful of pills. By morning he was dead. I wrestled with the guilt, the grief, the questions left behind. I asked myself again and again if it was worth it to stick around or if I should follow my husband.

About six months later, at the depth of my misery, I was out at a bowling party with people from work at which a coworker fed me glass after glass of cheap bowling alley wine until the whole wretched bottle was gone. We stayed after everyone had long since left and began to play “Truth or Dare.” After a few turns of ridiculously childish “Dares” I picked “Truth.” He asked me, “Are you happy right now?” Without a thought I replied yes, I was. We moved on and continued our obnoxious game until we were politely asked to take it elsewhere. The next day I was back in my own personal hell, only now hung over too, but being able to answer that question with a yes gave me the first sign of hope that sustained happiness was possible, even if it was still far off down the road. It made me begin to stop and think, to notice and appreciate the small moments of happiness and to realize that there would be more of them. It was the beginning of my second chance. I don’t know why he asked me that, but his question pierced my sorrow in a way that nothing else had been able to do up to that point. Why did he ask it at just that time? Was it calculated on his part or something that just popped out of his mouth? Ultimately I decided that I was given a gift and I accepted it without questioning it much further. Eventually, I healed.

My coworker and I never spoke of it again. We were friendly but not especially close. A few years later it became painfully evident that he was wrestling with his own demons. Everyone in his life, from close family and loved ones to friendly coworkers like me, tried to do whatever we could to help him. While he was at one of his lowest points I decided to write him a letter to tell him how much his question meant to me. I wanted to show him how much he meant to people, that he was so special even a casual question asked during a game of Truth or Dare in a bar could change someone’s life without his even knowing it. I wanted to give him what he had given me, the hope that a second chance was possible. Before I could get my letter to him, though, his own Mr. Hyde took a handful of pills and he was found dead in his apartment. There would be no more chances for him. Would my letter have had any impact? Would anything have? Why do some people make it when others don’t?

Even if those questions had answers, he’d still be as dead as my husband, so why ask them? I ask them because I believe in questions, even the ones without answers.