Some days, I wake up feeling equipped to handle that little negative strip. Other days, I wake up feeling like my heart might fall out of my chest if I have to see that single pink line again.
Today was the second kind.
Yesterday, I was talking to a friend who’s been walking this road longer than me. We talked about hope, in the context of infertility. In fact, we talked up, down and all around hope. How to find it, how to keep it, how we’re scared of it. And we both agreed that it was hope that had wrecked us so many times, but it was also hope that kept us going. And so we concluded that we must keep hoping.
And then, this morning, I woke up, got another negative and wanted to chuck hope into the trashcan right along with that test strip.
Instead, I grabbed my to-do list and set out for normalcy. I succeeded for a few hours, tackling some simple, mundane tasks. Then it came time to tackle some tasks that required a bit more brainpower. That’s where things went south.
I won’t bore you with details of a person trying to glue their behind to a desk chair and their eyes to a computer screen when their brain is floating eight feet above. I will just tell you that I ended up taking my dog for a walk in my neighborhood.
It started well. I sorted through emails and then found a recipe for dinner, all while walking. Productivity! And then I slid my phone in my pocket, and I wish I could say I walked for a while, contemplated life, etc. etc. and then the tears fell. But that’s not what happened. It took about two minutes. My poor neighbors.
I came back inside and walked to the kitchen. I hadn’t eaten lunch, so I’d grab something and eat it at my desk.
But nothing looked appetizing. And I was still freezing from my 40-degree walk. And, so I did what any sane person would do, and I set out to make a warm, hearty soup with precisely all the contents of my frig and pantry, for lunch.
Baby carrots, a boatload of celery, an onion, fresh garlic, a few sprigs of thyme, some leftover purple potatoes and chicken. Simple enough.
But oh! I saw an open bag of peas in the freezer, so I threw that in. And that random russet potato wasn’t going to do me much good all by its lonesome, so I diced it and tossed it in. And, really, did I want to cook dinner after cooking lunch? Definitely not, so I needed to make enough for later. And, oh — I should probably add bacon if I wanted my husband to eat it. Come to think of it, he’d really love it if it were less soup-like and more stew-like. Can do! A splash of milk. A handful of flour.
An hour later, my stovetop was covered in bacon grease and I in flour. My largest pot was about a tablespoon away from overflowing, there was a hunk of onion stuck to my shoe and my tongue was basically singed from my expert taste-testing method. Just about every spice I own was decorating the countertop to my left, and a gorgeous pile of peels —onions, garlic and potatoes — was decorating the countertop to my right.
I was stirring furiously, tossing carelessly, inhaling violently.
And that’s when it hit me.
I fully expected this soup to taste fantastic. Honestly, I had zero doubt it would. This medley of bits of pieces, odds and ends, exiles and leftovers, it would be good. I knew it.
So when did I start believing that I needed a full-course meal of hope for it to be sufficient?
That solo russet potato? Pretty boring on its own. That last splash of milk in the gallon? Not super helpful in a heaping bowl of cereal.
But together, these bits and shreds of food made something worthwhile.
And so, I concluded, there will be days like today. When I take my anger out on an innocent pot of soup, and my neighbors wonder if that really-steep hill just got the best of that girl in sweats.
But that’s OK. Because yesterday, I spent an hour with someone who speaks my pain without saying a word. And this week, the nurse told me my levels were up again. And last week, God painted the sky red on our evening stroll. And the week before that, my four-year old nephew prayed for our future kids, unprovoked. And I’ll take all these shreds, and I’ll stir them together. And I’ll have a pot full of hope. And I think God might say that it’s good.