Hope springs eternal;
Proverb Meaning – It is human nature to always find a fresh cause for optimism
by Juliet Thomas
The burden of the week lay like a boulder on Nicole’s chest as her daughter, infused by days of being stuck inside as the clouds grieved, quickly tugged on her wellies. Her cute dimples sucked in her cheeks and she stomped about grinning widely, asking if she could jump in the muddy puddles.
‘Sure, you can,’ smiled her Mum, a fresh dose of energy spiking her weary limbs as she grabbed her mac and purse.
Outside, as Mya slid her clammy hand into hers and continued to bounce along out of step, she filled her lungs with fresh, damp air and tilted her face towards the sun, it felt delicious to be out of the house.
The road and pavement they paced along were varnished slick with rain and she noticed families that she hadn’t seen for weeks doing the same, heading towards the park, now a chink of sunlight had come out to play.
It was like a calling, being drawn to the comfort of tree canopies, the scent of blooming rhododendrons and the expanse of the lake rippling in a soft breeze whilst mallards glided noisily in to land, making Mya giggle.
For weeks the virus had kept Nicole inside the confined safety of her ground-floor flat. Together, they'd filled the small back patio with pots and sown seeds to occupy Mya. But growth was achingly slow for her little girl, despite her checking them curiously and tending to the pots every morning and she was beginning to show signs of frustration, she didn’t blame her, she felt it too.
Nicole had been fearful of this new enemy, of something she couldn’t see and was desperate to protect her daughter, but this week something shifted, something monumental.
This week the world had changed in yet another horrifying direction and she needed to be seen and to see her fellow community, real life people. She needed to know that they had her back, that they shared her outrage. She could no longer listen to the news presenter’s endless, angled, versions of the truth, of the other outrage, centring once again on the wrong point.
She’d only watched the updates when Mya was in bed, mind. At five years old, it was enough to be afraid in a global pandemic, without her being exposed to a world gone mad driven by the sickening footage of the murder of George Floyd.
How could she even begin to clarify in simple terms to Mya what had happened anyway when she was duly lost for explanation herself? And how could she explain the response? Anger and hurt, understandable, the following violence and a President condemning it; ‘When the looting starts the shooting starts’, how do you ever explain THAT, to anyone? Would it ever end, really?
And this was the concern for Nicole, who had worked so hard to bring her daughter up with good values, purposely in a multi-cultural community that respected and looked out for each other, only for the hate to be rising up so high across the ocean that it could inflict a tidal wave to drown us all here. She prayed each night for that not to happen, for something to change.
But life wasn’t perfect here either, there was still work to do. Many of her white friends and colleagues had reached out to her, checking she was okay, but she knew they were scared too, a hesitant tone to their voices, fearful of saying the wrong thing, sometimes saying nothing at all. She was not angry with them personally; she was angry with a system that continued to uphold white supremacy in a time when this should no longer be.
Her daughter should be growing up and spreading her beautiful wings in an equal society, one they were all fighting for, she hoped there was still time.
Nicole had thought long and hard, following the black square, show of ‘support’ on Instagram of how she could help her community to be seen, fully, in all their glory and be valued for who they were as people, not just by the colour of their skin. She hoped her white friends would try harder than just following the trend of ‘Black Out Tuesday’.
This morning, she’d woken and felt the slab of sadness of George’s needless death begin to dissipate from her body and be replaced by a physical force to rise up, starting with a need to get out of the house.
Nicole spotted Sacha and went to join her on the bench who turned and smiled at her,
‘Hey love, it’s good to see you, how big has your Mya grown? What have you been feeding her?!’ she laughed in the raucous, infectious way that Sacha does. Relief and warmth flooded her body, her people, her community, the only ones who truly understood.
At that moment Mya and Sacha’s son, Dion pelted their way across the play park, leaping over logs and crashing into their legs, laughing breathlessly.
‘Mum!!, look, look!!’ they both yelled at the same time, jabbing their fingers up to the sky.
Sacha and Nicole looked up to where they were pointing, high above the old oaks at the top of the hill outside of the park, were the perfect arches of a double rainbow, framed by more impending grey clouds.
‘Aren’t all the colours soooooo beautiful, Mummy?’
She pulled Mya in for a hug, kissing the top of her head and smoothing her hair back to look at her,
‘Yes they are my love, yes they are.’
This story was written after a week of listening intently to my social media friends speak up about how they are feeling on videos and posts, and inspired by the double rainbow appearing, in my eyes as a symbol of hope, on Friday evening.