A New Hope

SPOILER ALERT!: The final line of the new Star Wars movie, Rogue One, is “Hope.” That’s it – that one word – “Hope.” Well, I suppose that isn’t really much of a spoiler considering the subtitle of the subsequent film is “A New Hope,” but still, it was (in my opinion) the perfect way to end the movie. And I was actually a bit amazed at how good the movie was and how much I liked it. In fact, out of the (now) eight feature films in the Star Wars franchise, it is likely my second favorite (behind Episode IV, the original, released in 1977).

Hope. I’ve written about hope in the past; it’s a concept, a notion, a feeling for which I have searched for as long as I can remember, and certainly as long as I’ve had my newly-discovered freedom. And here’s the thing: as soon as I think I’ve found the slightest glimmer of hope, it all seems to come crashing down like the fabled walls of Jericho. And I live every day of my life carrying the debilitating weight of depression and anxiety, so it’s often difficult for me to accept many of the setbacks in my life, particularly when it concerns people.

Here’s an example: Ever since coming home a little over two years ago, I haven’t been welcome around my wife’s family. But as time has passed, one at a time, I’ve been able to “make my peace” with some of them – most of them – with the hope of perhaps returning life to some semblance of normality for my wife and daughter. And this year – this Christmas – I thought perhaps I would be making one more step closer to achieving that coveted normality with my in-laws.

But oh, was I wrong…

Every year, on the afternoon of Christmas Day, my wife’s grandparents have their family over for dinner and gifts, and until prison, we went every year. However, for the first two Christmases of my return to freedom, I did not attend this with my wife and daughter. But this year, I was optimistic. This year, I thought perhaps the option would be available and I would be welcomed back into the family (since I’ve had the opportunity to speak one-on-one with most of them).

But I am not.

On the birthday card my wife received in the mail from her grandmother in mid-December, it was expressed (in only a few words) that they were excited to see her and my daughter on Christmas Day at their house. My name was omitted. I thought perhaps this may have been a mere oversight, so I asked my wife about it; she expressed – with clarity and certainty – that I was not welcome in her grandparents’ home. So I wasn’t exactly disinvited, since I wasn’t invited in the first place. But it was expressed that I was not invited – an “unvitation,” as Elaine Benes put it. Regardless, it was clear that I was not wanted.

That one hurt.

And yet, I am not surprised in the slightest, nor do I blame anyone for their feelings. I did some very horrible things, and I deserve the forgiveness of no one. I suppose that’s why I grasp so tightly onto Hope. However, being aware of this does not make it hurt any less; having Hope does not make it hurt any less; my intrinsic knowledge that I am a far-different person now does not make it hurt any less – it still hurts.

With every let-down, we must search for a new hope; we must keep a positive outlook for a bright future. We are people – we are fragile emotional beings – and if looking to the future only brings feelings of hopelessness and dread, it becomes increasingly difficult (or impossible) to keep moving forward. But move forward we must. Living in reverse may be one of my coping mechanisms, but it is not my reality. People will hurt us, whether we deserve it or not, and all we can do is keep moving forward, and grasp tightly onto Hope.

I refuse to let go of Hope. Long ago, one Christmas in Bethlehem, Hope was born; so I will continue to hold onto Hope as long as I can. All I can do is accept it and move-on. All I can do is continue to prove to them and everyone around me that I am nothing like the horrid person who committed those terrible crimes all those years ago. All I can do is adopt the mantra the Boston Red Sox had for 86 years, “Maybe next year…

All I can do is move forward.

All I can do is Hope.


Merry Christmas.