“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” —Desmond Tutu
With a brand new nugget of life sprouting from their young love and dreams of a fresh start on their own, my parents packed everything they owned- and a suitcase of hope- into their Volkswagen bus. They could have made the trek from Pullman to their final new life destination in Mt. Vernon in one day, but, full of vigor and craving adventure, they chose to overnight in the beautiful little Bavarian town of Leavenworth, tucked away from the world into the foothills of the Cascade Mountains.
My mom cashed out as much as she could from her memory banks—going back 46 years—during our drive to Leavenworth for a press trip to check out the new Posthotel. As we strolled the darling downtown corridor, I could see my young parents, walking hand-in-hand, their entire lives ahead of them—difficult childhoods and my dad’s tour as a Green Beret in the Vietnam War behind them—now, with the chance to get it all right. Like the good hippies of their time, they saved some cash by sleeping amidst their belongings in the van that night, my dad’s strong body warmly molded around my mother’s soft, swollen belly. I was there, too, unfurling inside of my mother, bathed in endorphins of peace, calm, hope and love. “I remember feeling so full of hope,” my mom said. “I still have that same sense of hope; I’ve never lost it no matter what has happened in my life.”
A good chunk of my mom’s hope, at the time when she was pregnant with me, was imagining motherhood and coming full circle within the ache of emptiness she was left with as a little girl when her mother passed away. She suffered neglect, poverty and unthinkable abuse from her much older brothers without the cloak of her mother’s protection. And as she tucked herself into a bed of hope in the back of that Volkswagen van that night in Leavenworth, she couldn’t have foreseen the additional pain to come.
The wind ripped at my grip on the edges of the bed sheet as I pressed it down against the back floor of my father’s Bronco, enveloping my two younger brothers in effort to calm their cries and shield them from the brutality of the storm our parents were embroiled in. The fight began before we left the house for Lewiston that night. A night so dark, we could have been anywhere or not even existed at all. But the crying and the shouting and the wind and the rain pounded on us like angry pinches in a dream. Mom was clinging to the open passenger door threatening to escape the storm inside by disappearing into the storm and the pavement and the darkness outside, as my dad pressed harder and harder on the gas pedal—and on my mom’s emotional fragility—barreling down the Lewiston grade.
Our family eventually dissolved, and then she faced a second divorce, the loss of her a son, cancer, other losses, two years in hospice coming to terms with the end of her life and then not dying after all and fighting her way back to a notion of life and living.
With so many points of pain on the line of her lifetime, I’ve always been bewildered by the hope my mother still sees and thinks and feels and believes. She is the lone flower blooming up through a concrete jungle. Her petals may be frayed, but she still turns her face toward the sun, rolling with the seasons of life and believing something grand is just around the corner.
We enjoyed a precious getaway together in a magical place. She convinced me to quiet the chaos of my mind and soak in every moment alongside her, relishing the sun on our faces and a deep sense that life was grand as it was, and perhaps, something even grander awaited around every corner. It was her first vacation in well over 10 years, maybe even 15 or more, and her second visit to Leavenworth—each time with me, the daughter she refers to as her angel.
“Let your heart break daily. In conversations. Over song lyrics. During the pause right before the sun rises. While you’re sipping coffee and looking into the eyes of someone you love. It’s when we break a little, we come alive. It’s in this space of feeling, we expand. And it’s here, in our vulnerability and openness, we step into our greatest selves.” —Danielle Doby
We are Spokane Coeur d’Alene Living magazine, and we are Spokane and Coeur d’Alene. Please find me on Facebook or Twitter—and hop over to “like” the Spokane Coeur d’Alene Living magazine page—to stay connected between press dates, and to share your thoughts, stories and life in real time. May we all—under all circumstances—hold on to a sense of hope for ourselves, for our community and for those around us.