While There is Life There is Hope

Never give up – on life, on people, on hope, and especially not on ourselves.  That’s what the closest interpretation of this popular saying would be if we are to accept it at face value.  Basically, that while we are living and breathing we are capable of doing anything no matter how daunting the obstacles.  Are we?

We’ve all heard the rags to riches stories of people who have overcome great odds to be where they are today.  Or the miraculous accounts of people who survive unimaginable pain and suffering (self-inflicted or otherwise) to become championed heroes for others, but are we truly capable of believing in the people we care about when we see them making one mistake after another?  I mean after we’ve tried to help and gone out of our way attempting to lead them down the right path.  Even after you feel emotionally drained and exhausted – when there is nothing left to do but hope.

I believe so…if we really want to.  One thing I’ve learned from my formative years in a household of seven kids and two parents is that you never give up on the ones you love.   No matter how hard things get you just don’t.  You pull yourself through, even if you have to be dragged part of the way.

On a salary of $100 dollars a week and $15 a day here and there for cleaning houses, my parent’s always managed to keep us clothed and fed.  Our first home in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas might not have had electricity, but we never went without.  So many times I’d hear my mother say God is good, he won’t forget us and at times, I have to admit, her notion of blind faith seemed a little ridiculous to me.  Yet every time things had a way of working themselves out.  When we didn’t have money for food or clothing people would unexpectedly bring it to us.  After we were deported to Mexico for being a mixed legal-illegal family, the Immigration Reform Act of 1986 allowed us to come back.  When my mother was told she would be the only one in our family not to get legal residency in this country, her outburst in court softened the immigration judge’s heart.  She did receive her legal residency along with my dad and two older sisters.

Oh yeah, and there was the time in the Valley when a man who was working near our home saw how we were living and built us a house of our own with electricity.

Later in life when I had overburdened myself with financial debt for driving without a license as a high school junior, my mother took from her bank account and gave me what savings she had from her minimum wage paying job.  In my earlier tweens, when I had taken to the idea of cutting class in middle school and basically felt hopeless about my life, Ms. Quirk saw something in me and reached out to me.  We never said much to each other in the way of what had happened to me, and I never told her about my hilariously failed attempts to take my own life – all of these consisted of me concocting a disgusting combination of all the liquids I could find in the bathroom of our apartment (Clorox, Fabuloso, Old Spice, toothpaste, rubbing alcohol, shampoo, etc.) and then backing out of drinking them – but she made an impact in my life that I will never forget.

I’ve often pondered the idea of looking her up and thanking her for changing my life.  There we would sit everyday after school in her English classroom grading papers.  When we were done she’d drive me home in her vehicle and tell me she’d see me in class the next day.  Ms. Quirk awoke in me the love for the written word, and believed in me when I had given up on myself.  She made me believe in myself and probably saved my life, although I don’t think I would have ever worked up the nerve to drink that mixture.

Today, I understand my mother’s blind faith.  Not to say that I have never given up completely or lost faith when I shouldn’t have. I have!  But when things start getting tough and I don’t know how to overcome a certain obstacle I find myself repeating those same words: God is good, he won’t forget us.  Often when I’ve been at the end of my rope with despair it is those who care about me who have brought me back.  I don’t ever want to lose faith in them.  I want to always believe in them, even if they do one day give up on themselves.

While we are living we can never lose hope.