A year ago today, my husband staggered in the door after school, in such debilitating pain that I was fairly certain something was either blocked, twisted, or ruptured. We headed to the emergency department as fast as I could drive, where he ended up with bowel resection the next day. As he lay there in the hospital for five days, battling the pain and trying not to think about the fading dream of graduating from nursing school at the end of the year, I desperately wanted to bring him some symbol of hope and healing. It was the week after Valentine’s Day, and the garden center had only one small display of blooming flowers left over. I briefly considered a brilliantly flowering cactus, until a closer inspection revealed that the blooms were actually strawflowers hot-glued onto the cacti. No kidding. Not exactly the symbol I wanted, although the spiny cactus seemed apt enough.
Then I saw a tiny potted orchid lifting three fragile white blooms on a stem so slender it was hard to see how it could hold up its head so bravely. I bought it and carried it very carefully to the 14th floor, where it graced my husband’s bedside stand. Somehow, it got knocked to the floor, the ceramic pot splitting in two, carefully taped back together with surgical tape by the attending nurse. The blooms hung on gamely for a few weeks on our kitchen windowsill after we brought it home. The pot, split and taped together, seemed a little like my husband, healing slowly from that long gash stapled together on his abdomen.
By the grace of God and the kindness of his professors, my determined husband rejoined his classes after 3 weeks and passed the spring semester against all odds.
Eventually, I got around to replanting our orchid in a larger pot. It was the only living plant in my house at the time, so I actually remembered to take care of its weekly thirst for 3 ice cubes. If you knew my history with house plants, you would marvel with me at how Hope flourished and threw out feelers and roots. A new stem, much sturdier, grew straight up and pushed out fat buds. One week before Gabe’s graduation, the first bloom popped open, then another and another, enormous, vibrant and real. No hot glue! Hope has bloomed steadily for over 2 months now, and is still putting out buds.
Many times we look at those blooms and smile at the parallels. Gabe said, “You need to take a picture and write a blog post about this.” So I did. I suppose if we were to take a Conestoga wagon out West, I would want to carry Hope along with us.