Deferred Hope

September 16, 2021

Webster declares the essential meaning of hope to be “to want something to happen or be true and think that it could happen or be true.” Summer afforded much reason to hope the school year would be normal. Families traveled to various regions to enjoy sand and surf. Baseball royalty descended upon the Mile High City and showcased their talents in the All-Star Game.  Fans filled bleachers in parks throughout the country as young athletes reengaged in the gift of healthy competition.

Hope eased its way into our hearts, slowly. By the time August rolled around, we anticipated a “normal” school year.

Growing up, whenever I faced disappointment or experienced a challenge, my mom quietly reminded me that “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” Not advice readily embraced by a teenager who just endured the “worst day of her entire existence.”

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick.”

As word spread that the Delta variant crept closer and closer to the frontline of COVID, I found myself, at times immobile. Waves of memories of Spring Break 2020 flooded my heart. I saw myself back in meetings with the staff, asking them to prepare two weeks of work until we returned to the building. I understand on a deeper level why hindsight is 20/20.

After a summer of almost normal, the abrupt 180 that thrust us back into all things COVID catapulted me into emotions I believed had long since dissipated. Candidly, I spent two weeks crying my way home every night. I wondered how I could ask my staff to yet again take up the COVID armor on top of all they already navigate.

I recognized the true meaning of my grandmother’s words. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.”

Then, two days ago, in the middle of the day, Mr. Ward texted me. As I looked down at my vibrating wrist, I read these words, “I have a student, Amelia, that wants to share a poem with you. She wants to give it to you in person whenever you have a chance and are near.”

I made my way to the fifth-grade hallway, where Amelia and I had a quiet moment on the bench outside her classroom. She allowed me to read her masterpiece. She also permitted me to share it with you in all of its beauty.

As I read her words, I realized that my heart was sick because I placed my hope and focus in the wrong place. In all of the muck, our students, our hope and focus personified, know they matter, and enter our building ready and eager to learn.

They give us hope in the now. Our hearts don’t have to have to be sick. We just need to shift our focus. Take in the words of my fifth-grade friend Amelia. She says it better than I ever could.