Hope swings two ways

Today, I was working hard on the outside landscaping (more on that in tomorrow’s post). Most of the time, when I’m out front doing something that will take a while, I plant my iPhone on top of my fence and run a playlist to keep me company (and distracted from the sweat).

Since I start early in the morning (to avoid the direct sun), I never concern myself about phone calls. So it was a surprise the phone was ringing about two-thirds of the way through my task.

Taking off my garden gloves, I stumbled over to the phone (by this time, I’m panting heavily and a little shaky – about an hour and a half in). The caller ID showed the number was from Las Vegas. While it didn’t show a name, I had this tiny, impossible moment of hope.

Over three years ago, my closest friend suddenly stopped talking to me. I had known her since day one of my last job and spent many lunches, dinners, holidays and celebrations with her and her family.

I knew something was terribly wrong when I didn’t receive any communication on my birthday, a date for each of us we never missed a chance to call each other for.

During that period of silence, I spent considerable effort trying to reach her, fearing the possibility of something bad. Outreaches to her husband and son netted no response either. Other efforts, which, had we not been best friends for 20 years could have been construed as stalking, yielded some information, but no actual contact.

When I left on my Great North American Baseball Road Trip, I made special plans to stop in Las Vegas (where they had all moved some six years prior and where I had visited for five of those years each Christmas).

Upon arriving, I met and talked with her husband and youngest son, but she was purportedly down in my home state visiting family. To this day, I’ve never received a call, email or explanation for the cessation of friendship.

And not a day goes by when I’m not reminded of my loss.

So, there was no reason to think that the unnamed number from Las Vegas was her. But, as the saying goes, hope springs eternal.

Of course, it was just a computer sales pitch. Hopes dashed once more.

And that’s the flip side, right? There are many things that bring great sadness into our lives and take up residence. The death of a close family member or loved one. Someone you know who is diagnosed with a terminal illness. The loss of a lifetime’s efforts and memories due to natural disasters.

But I find it most poignant when that loss is accompanied with no reason; without explanation. Never knowing the “why” is a terrible sort of suffering and the other side of hope.

For hope realized is an exalting joy, but hope crushed is a punishment of despair.

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