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Love, Hope and Courage

There is a coin I keep in my wallet. It’s one of those inspirational tokens you can pick up in the hospital gift shop. On one side it reads ‘Survivor’ and on the other ‘Love, Hope, Courage’.

There is a coin I keep in my wallet. It’s one of those inspirational tokens you can pick up in the hospital gift shop. On one side it reads ‘Survivor’ and on the other ‘Love, Hope, Courage’.

I pulled it out the other day while I was sitting in the waiting room at Oil Changers. The radio was playing Bing Crosby, snow was softly falling outside and I sat in the warmth of the waiting room staring at that word; Survivor.

All of a sudden I drifted away and began going through memories of my cancer ordeal one at a time; the pain after surgery, the first time I took off my bandages, and walking around the city with tubes coming out of my body trying to hide them as best I could.

I snapped back into reality for a moment and flipped the coin over: ‘Love, Hope, Courage.’ The words looked almost like foreign symbols etched into a coin from a land far, far away. For some reason at that moment I couldn’t take my eyes off the word ‘Hope’.

After my initial diagnosis with early stage breast cancer I felt totally alone. It was as if I was hanging in limbo drifting above the rest of the world. I needed grounding, so I went to a support group hoping to get some insight.

During one specific session, the facilitator told us we had to embrace the present moment, and let go of the future. I’ll never forget what he told me, he said… “Nahnda, there is no hope… there is no future… there is only now.”

I was shocked! Everything in my whole being rejected what he’d said. I felt a surge of adrenaline kick in and I wanted to fight him, but I bit my tongue and opted for mutual respect instead. At any rate I quit going to the group after that. Perhaps letting hope go and clinging to the present moment is empowering for some, but what if the present moment sucks? For me, seeking the Creator’s guidance and holding onto hope that He had a better future for me than the present moment is what kept me going.

In hindsight maybe I did get the support I needed from that facilitator after all, he reminded me I already found strength in hope. Hopes are different than wishes. A wish is simply a want, like a person’s Christmas wish list. Hope rather, is something you want and expect with confidence. I hope (and expect with confidence) they end shale gas exploration on First Nations territory. I hope (and expect with confidence) the FNEA doesn’t go through. I hope (with confidence) that I am making sense!

I have many hopes.

I hope all my descendants will be wiser, more brave, and more beautiful than me.
I hope that I can pay off my credit card after Christmas.
I hope that someday I will have a house of my very own.
I hope the Harper government doesn’t destroy Canada.
I hope I remain cancer-free forever.
I hope I can be a part of growing a healthier Six Nations.
I hope I get time to bead so I can have a new outfit for pow wow season.

I don’t know all pain, but I do know that sometimes when the struggle takes over hope is all you got. Hope is not worthless, it is greater than wishes, and sometimes putting hope in the right place can give you the strength to keep moving forward. Strength so you can seek out truth and ultimately find the victory we are all looking for.

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Nahnda Garlow

Nahnda Garlow

Nahnda Garlow is Onondaga under the wing of the Beaver Clan of Six Nations. Nahnda has been a journalist with the Two Row Times since it's founding in 2013. She is a self-proclaimed "rez girl" who brings to the Two Row Times years of experience as a Haudenosaunee cultural interpreter, traditional dancer and beadwork aficionado. Nahnda is a member of the Canadian Association of Journalists and the Native American Journalists Association.

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