Hope is Not a Strategy. It’s something much, much more!
I come by life lessons very slowly. I have learned over the years to restrain myself from forcing the issue and just let certain things percolate and bubble until they are ready.
And, so it goes with “hope”.
Hope is one of those really strange words. It is defined as (noun) the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best. To engage in hope (verb), is to embrace the emotions that the desired event will actually happen.
I am sorry, but this word has always seemed like a “thin disguise” to me. Hope is clearly for wimps without a plan or the wherewithal to follow through. Why embrace an emotion that has you depend entirely on circumstances that are completely out of your control?
Politicians love the word “hope”. They build entire campaigns around hope and I just want to scream into the TV… “Hope is not a strategy, dude. Do something about it. Show some balls. Get a plan.” Consequently, I am numb to hope.
Or so I thought (and here comes the valuable life lesson to which I alluded):
Three years ago, almost to the day, we adopted this sweet little fluff ball of a dog named Georgie. Georgie was a product of pure manifestation. You know that concept, right? When you are focused enough on creating something, and open your mind to all possibilities, and align your thoughts and intentions with that goal, you absolutely have the power to manifest.
That’s the kind of manifestation I am talking about. In fact, if I am really honest about it, Georgie was the by-product of hope. I just didn’t realize it.
Nine year old girls have a tendency to get really interested in having a pet. Maybe it is the first, pre-pubescent hint of the nurturing instinct taking hold. Anyway, my daughter got her head wrapped around the idea of getting dog. It is a completely normal urge, but almost impossible in my family because my husband is not particularly keen on dogs. I had two dogs in the past that he had to deal with, and one in particular was the dog from hades. Let’s just say, his dog memories aren’t warm and fuzzy.
But my daughter is persistent, just like her father. He told her, point blank:
- No puppies
- It can’t chew on things (ever)
- It can’t pee and poop in the house (ever)
He thought she would give up under these impossible conditions. Instead, she and I manifested Georgie, the toothless wonder. We spent days (maybe even weeks) on www.petfinder.com searching all of California for the right dog. One day, Georgie caught my eye. He looked too good to be true and he was in a pound three miles from our house. It was clearly a sign from God.
My husband wasn’t ready, but I visited the pound late one Thursday night just to check him out. It was love at first sight. I spoke with the vet and in her most concerned and cautious voice, she told me, “Georgie is an older dog. He is in good health with the exception of one very serious condition…”
I held my breath during this dramatic pause. The silence was overwhelming as I waited for the door to close on my daughter’s doggie dreams.
“What? What is it? What is his terrible plight that keeps him from being unlovable and unadoptable?” I was screaming by now.
“Well, he has no teeth!” I am not sure what she was thinking when I burst out laughing and gave her a man hug that practically broke her ribs.
“We are looking for a dog with no teeth.”
It was final, he was our dog.
But, I couldn’t take him home that night because my husband hadn’t said, “yes.” I tried to put Georgie on hold. They said no. I tried to bribe the lady at the counter with cold hard cash.
She gave me the evil eye.
That weekend, I told my husband about the toothless wonder. He panicked. He realized he hadn’t set the bar high enough, so he added on a few more impossible criteria. “He can’t bark, EVER” and he can’t shed.”
I gave him the evil eye.
The following Tuesday, I went back to the pound to see Georgie again and he was gone. I panicked. My heart pounded. I ran to the front desk pushing my way through the line. “Where’s Georgie?” What happened to that cute little dog with no teeth and the tongue that hangs out?”
Georgie was scheduled for the chamber, and that weekend, a San Diego rescue operation that regularly sweeps the pounds had found him and saved him.
I called them and said, “Put Georgie on hold for me indefinitely. He’s our dog, but I just have to convince my husband.” I tried to bribe them. They said, ”We can’t do that ma’am, but we will call you if someone is interested and give you the first chance to make your move.”
Three months later, my daughter and I convinced my husband to “just go visit him and meet him.” We made a pilgrimage to San Diego. Georgie was with a wonderful foster family and very happy.
That little bugger is pretty smart. He knew his biggest adversary was my husband. When we sat down in the living room, the first thing he did was walk up to my husband, put his paws up on his knees and give him his best puppy dog look. That was all it took. Georgie was ours.
But, for added drama, and just to prove that he was in charge, my husband made us all sign a contract that said:
Georgie will never chew on things, bark, poop and/or pee in the house. He will not shed. If he does, he is subject to immediate removal.
We were willing to take our chances. The deal was done.
The rest is history. Georgie has been an amazing member of our family, although he does occasionally poop and pee in the house, and he really likes barking at bumblebees and other dogs. And he sheds.
But the story took a tragic turn in the last few months.
Georgie got very sick. He was losing interest in food and started wasting away in front of our eyes. We took him to the vet thinking he had a parasite and found out that he has chronic renal failure. His little system is slowly but surely becoming more toxic and shutting down. Two vets, point blank, told us to put him down. Stick the knife in and just cut away at my heart.
And this is where the life lesson on hope really took hold for me.
Hope has you do silly things like put your dog on three days of IV fluids hoping for miracles, and when he responds to that, taking him home to try miracle herbs and hot and cold therapy for his kidneys, just to have him stick around a little longer.
I know the “humane thing” to do is to put him out of his misery. Since he went into intensive care, I have been a hot mess. The waves of grief sometimes just take over and I don’t know how the tears can just keep coming.
There have been four times over the last two days when I have gotten myself all worked up into a tizzy because I “knew” it was “time to end his suffering”. Then, in the middle of my tear drenched speech to the family about how we need to let him go, he pulls off some kind of miraculous maneuver, like getting up and prancing across the room, or suddenly devouring food like a maniac, or looking at me with those puppy dog eyes.
I swear he is onto me. So, we are on the familiar roller coaster ride of what it takes to deal with beloved going through a health crisis.
I know, intellectually that Georgie’s time is near. It might be hours, days, weeks or months, but eventually, we will have to make that tough choice to end his suffering. What is guiding me now is hope. Perhaps my daughter is learning her own life lessons about hope and doesn’t even know it.
For me, the lesson is now engrained. Hope is what you have when all else fails. It makes you open your mind up beyond the intellectual or logical and take chances that might lead to miracles. And miracles, even small ones, are what give life its real meaning.