My husband has got, bar none, the coolest friends. He’s not a party animal, and he only connects with a few people. But when he does, it’s a lifetime bond. And they keep cropping up. Seriously. We’ve been married eleven years now, and just last year we found a college buddy of his on Facebook.
Randal Horobik works for a newspaper in Wyoming, and he coaches the high school NFL team. (That’s National Forensics League to the underinformed, and NO Forensics doesn’t have to mean Kay Scarpetta’s on line one.) Not surprising, since he and Scott did speech and debate together in their Wooster Years. He also has kids, and this poignant response to one of his children is so utterly touching that I asked if I could reprint it here. He said yes.
What Color is Hope? (v. 1.1)
All rights reserved, reprinted with permission
When you have kids, you get asked a lot of questions.
And as a parent, it is your job to know the answers, even when you have no idea. Because just like sophomore English class, ignorance in the pursuit of understanding is not an option.
And my baby is trying to understand, so I get questions.
Questions like, daddy, what color is hope?
What color is hope?
I think hope is sapphire blue. That cool tone you witness when the first rays of sunlight are just beginning to climb out of bed on the eastern horizon and gradually tickle the sky awake in the morning. Sapphire blue. Like the tranquil waters of a mountain lake on a summer day when you don’t have to stick your feet in to feel refreshed because simply seeing the water’s surface reflecting the world around you is enough to recharge your soul. Hope is sapphire blue.
Except when hope is orange. Orange with the heated hungry anger of a fire’s flames devouring the house on the corner. People gather as walls, pictures, furniture, clothing, memories all ascend skyward. Folks from up and down the block stare ensconced in its glow as they mumble among themselves, ‘I hope everyone made it out all right.’
Hope is red. Red with the blood that stained the ground in so many wars fought for so many reasons in so many lands that history long ago lost its mind and broke down in tears trying to keep up with their number. Fathers, sons, friends, brothers — one day I hope we prove worthy of their sacrifice.
Hope is yellow and hanging on the front door of a 22-year old military wife who goes to bed every night praying to God there won’t be a knock the next day unless it’s her husband falling into her arms and saying ‘honey, I made it back to you.’
Hope is green and legal tender. I hope I win the lottery. I hope we can afford it. I hope we have enough. I hope I can eat tomorrow. Money might not buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with, and unless you’ve been without it, don’t you dare tell me what it can or can’t buy.
Hope is black. No, not skin black, because in a nation where one out of every three black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime, that’s anything but hope. But hope is pitch black. The sort of absolute darkness that envelops your bedroom as you lob your own questions at the ceiling. How did that happen? What am I going to do? What happened to my life? Is this all there is? Are you there God? Are you there God? Are you there? God, is anyone there?
I swear, hope is transparent. Because I’ll set it down and then something will come up and life will get hectic and I’ll turn around and, whoops — lost it! Like my cell phone and my car keys, I’ve spent so much time searching for hope because sometimes I can’t even remember the last time I had it. I’ve called family and friends. I’ll wander like a neighbor needing a cup of sugar asking if someone can give me hope. Just a little, don’t need much. Sometimes I don’t even have to leave the house. People knock on my door and hand me little books and pamphlets offering hope. I’ve even been told that some people believe hope hides at the bottom of a bottle of tequila. But if it does then hope looks like a worm and tastes like turpentine, and that would just be wrong, so I think it’s safe to say that hope isn’t found there.
The craziest thing is, when you find hope again, you feel like such an idiot. How could you miss it? It was right there all along.
Hope is tan like the carpet in my children’s room, where we used to sit and play before their mother took them five states away. I hope one day soon they will return and ashes, ashes we can all fall down there once again.
Hope is pink with the color of ribbons trying to raise awareness of the 235,000 people, including more than 2,000 men, who will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the next year. So screw your macho fashion sense and wear the damn ribbon, because those folks are going to need all the hope they can get. Could we please find a cure for this fucking disease?
Hope is every color of the rainbow, and all that rainbow wants is to be able to walk down the street hand in hand with the person it loves without fear of violence, without fear of prejudice, without fear of Fred Phelps and his freaks showing up to scream and wave a sign. Hope is a gentle rainbow, because if anyone did that to me I’d shove the sign so far up Fred’s ass he’d feel like a mailbox.
Hope is white. It’s a great white hope. The white of a canvas before the paint gets applied. The white of a page before the words begin to flow. That vacant white that says you can do whatever you want here, because the only boundaries are the limitations of your own imagination.
That’s what color hope is, sweetie.
Jessie Powell is the Jester Queen. She likes to tell you about her dog, her kids, her fiction, and her blog, but not necessarily in that order.