dare to hope

In the eight years that I’ve been searching for it, I’ve often been reminded that there is no silver bullet to stop my son Calvin’s seizures. My response is to think, well, I sure won’t find a silver bullet if I don’t keep looking. I continue to hold out hope, in a way asking for all that might be possible.

A friend recently responded to my post tempests, moon and stars. She said, “It worries me that you may be counting too much on the [medical] marijuana working ... Please try to keep your hopes in check, Christy.”

Reading her words stung me, and my mind kept tumbling over them the entire day. In response to her, part of what I said was, “I will be no less disappointed having suppressed my hopes and dreams, but will have missed out on the joyous endorphins that they allow me, if only for a time.” Indeed, I do have high hopes that the cannabis tincture we’ll be making soon will help to stop Calvin’s seizures and perhaps calm his frenzied body and mind.

As Calvin flailed and spun in the bath I thought further about my friend’s concerned comment, thought about the phrase that is so often tossed out into the world: Don’t get your hopes up—a phrase I don’t think I’ve ever used. What if someone had told me to keep my hopes in check when I was pregnant and wishing on the stars for a healthy baby? If I’d complied, might I have been less disappointed when I learned that Calvin was born missing a significant amount of the white matter in his brain, when he was failing to thrive, when we learned that he was legally blind and might never walk or talk? Would it all have been easier to take? I’m certain it wouldn’t have been possible for me to have been less disappointed, less despondent, than I was, even if I’d kept my hopes in check.

I tried to remember if my parents had ever used such a phrase, but I couldn’t. I went on to imagine what it might have felt like if, when applying for college my parents had told me not to get my hopes up. What would have happened if, when psyching up to win the state high school relay my coach had told me not to get my hopes up? Would any of us have told my father, when he was determined to beat his cancer, or, told my mother, when she was enthusiastic about a new weight-loss regimen, not to get their hopes up? Would I have ever said to a parent whose child was going into surgery, to keep their hopes in check lest they be disappointed if the outcome were poor? I hope not.

I think I get the theory behind this kind of advice, and I know it is not uncommon. I mean, I get the gist that folks who subscribe to this thinking believe that stifling hope—keeping hope in check—will work to make failure and tragedy easier to bear. But, I wonder what amount of stifling is advised? Fifty percent? Eighty percent? A third? How much hope should one whittle off to reach a reasonable amount? Can hope really be measured, checked, tempered in this way? Have there been studies on managing one’s hopes proving that suppressing them shallows grief, numbs pain, buffers despair, safeguards our emotions?

Keeping my hopes in check would feel tantamount to giving up on my dreams, ditching my ambitions, doubting possibility, surrendering my desires and living life as if content to eat bread and water knowing there might be aromatic cheese and fine wine for the taking if only I dare to ask.


  1. Dare to hope, Christy. Naysayers be damned, caution with our feelings is not the way. Thank you for your words.

  2. Christy, I work for a non-profit called Hope Stone, Inc. -- www.hopestoneinc.org. The founder has a sister who she pretty much nursed through breast cancer and her middle name is Hope. And so, this performing arts, arts outreach nonprofit now bears her sister's name. I ended up working at a place called Hope where the founder understands the trials of caregiving, how demanding it is, and somehow allows me to work around and through it, and is one of my biggest champions. It's a powerful thing. I need it every day. xo

  3. A good friend of mine (who lost her son when he was nine years old) once said, in her heavy Israeli accent: "Without hope, you have nothing." I really believe that --and while I understand the "concept" of checking one's hope, I haven't found it to work, really. It's way to self-conscious or conscious at all.

  4. Keep your hopes high and work like hell to make it happen. I think perhaps those who have tried to temper my hopes in the past had the thought that if I hoped for the best, I would be content to wait and see if it came to fruition. No, that's not how I roll... nor you either.

  5. A Maine friend who I forwarded your request about lobbying against the kief ban just sent me a note that the ban was removed from the legislation on Tuesday. Congrats on fighting the good fight. Looks like hope (and some passionate lobbying) works! I am certainly hoping for the best for Calvin with tincture and sending you all good juju.

  6. Thank you Christie. I needed this reminder today. Hopelessness surrounds me often and you really just put it all into perspective. You and Calvin have a very special place in my heart. I hope for you too.

  7. For the hope you throw in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, I am nominating you for The Lighthouse Award. I dare say you have enough on your plate without tending to blogging awards, but please know I feel the warmth of the rays you shine on this world. May the light shine on you and Calvin. http://choppingpotatoes.wordpress.com/2014/02/25/shine-on-you-crazy-diamond/

    1. you are so kind. i am humbled. what exactly is it that i have to do? the same as you did? xo