A few weeks ago, Shannon and Toni, the two women behind the Duolit blog , challenged the writing community to come together to support a fellow author who can no longer speak for her own book. The Cell War Notebooks is the compilation of Julie Forward DeMay’s passionate, honest, heartwarming blogs written during the last seven months of her life as she lost the battle against cervical cancer.
Shannon and Toni asked us to write a blog about hope in Julie’s memory, to help spread the word. Of course, I said yes. The problem for me was that they wanted everyone’s blogs to be posted on the same day – January 31st. Unfortunately, I was installing another American Hands exhibit on the 31st. I had thought that I might actually get to it that night, but after organizing and hanging over 100 pictures at the University of Scranton, I fell into bed, unable to think, let alone write.
So, here’s my blog on hope in memory of Julie Forward DeMay, a couple of days late, but perhaps, just on time.
How often I have hoped for things that have never come true. Haven’t we all?
When I was a young twenty-something, I began to wonder if hope were nothing more than a palliative, a drug we use to blind us to the futility of our struggles. Okay, that was my darkest time of life, when I had a broken heart, my career as a creative individual was a fantasy made of air, and I woke up each morning unsure where I needed to be, what I had to do. The young certainly have a talent for extremism, especially in depression.
Luckily, that period didn’t last long. Though at the time, it felt like forever.
I realized that I was letting the bastards win. Those individuals who would stand in my way, naysay my dreams, want to bind my spirit and break my heart were the problem. Not me. Not my dreams. Not my hopes. They were making me feel bad that I could be a dreamer. Looking back, I sometimes think that I was a shiny young thing that frightened them because I didn’t want what they wanted, didn’t think like they did. No! Darn it! Why would I want to?
So, I taught myself to dream once more, to look beyond the here and now, to the what if, what could be, what should be. Only then, could I begin to grow into the woman I was meant to be, the artist I still struggle to become.
Hope is our dream of the future. Every new picture I imagine and work to create, every new book that fills my mind and soul until it is finally finished, every new relationship that sparks understanding and joy and life… these are built not on air but on hope. Plus aching hard work, with a measure of good luck thrown in.
If what we hoped for doesn’t come to fruition, does that make the hope irrelevant and useless? For me, the answer is no. Because the path that hope takes us on is what matters. The effort we put into our work, the successes and, yes, even the mistakes we make. And mostly the people we meet along the way. Good people like Toni and Shannon, who remind us that we are a community of dreamers.
Please join us to support Julie’s dream. Click the book cover above, and purchase the book. I understand that all profits from the sale of her book will be going to her nine-year-old daughter, Luka. Then, help us spread the word: Hope is the engine that drives us forward, to create, to give, to live.