“Can you get to a place where you believe your best is in front of you?” This is the question John Ramsey was asked by a friend years after the death of his daughter, JonBenet Ramsey. He has a book out about his years of grief and recovery, John Ramsey’s Journey from Grief to Hope. His young six year old daughter was a child beauty pageant queen and she was found dead in the basement of his home in Bolder Colorado in 1996. The murder has never been solved and there has been an enormous amount written about the case. He and his deceased wife and family were the target of the investigation for quite a while and were eventually cleared of the charges but doubts still linger.
I don’t normally follow the sordid details of such stories but just by being alive and keeping up with current events, it was impossible not to know something about this sad story. I’m not here to pass judgment. Certainly, I know only the hearsay evidence to which I’ve been exposed and in my heart I want to believe in his innocence. What I was struck with during his interview with Robin Roberts on Good Morning America was how very sad and tragic this entire story is. It made my heart ache.
But, back to the question, I’m sure it’s a question many of us could ask ourselves at many times in our lives. We have or are going through a really difficult time, a challenging experience and we can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. We think this is it; life will always be this grim and difficult. What does it take to find the ability to turn that around? Hope, it takes practicing the characteristic of hope.
Oh, there have been times in my life when hope was missing and who’s to say that that won’t happen again. But, it’s so wonderful to be with people who give and share their hope when everything looks so dark. Have you had that experience? My father and father-in-law died of brain tumors, the same rare type, twenty years apart, a glioblastoma. I had hope with my dad. I knew so little. When my father-in-law was diagnosed, I gave up immediately. I knew the results. I’d already experienced them. But, Joe, my father-in-law was treated at Duke by Drs. Henry and Alan Friedman. (They are not related.) And, the motto of the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center is “At Duke there is hope." It was inspirational to be with the people who worked there. They really believed they could cure him. They believe they can find a way to eliminate this disease and while I must tell you, Dad died, so many more have lived. They have lived and they have thrived. There are many stories of people who are living long and wonderful lives because there are people at Duke who believe that they can make a difference and who have made a difference.
Hope is a feeling of positive expectation. How can one go from despair to hope? Can one go from despair to hope? Yes, I believe they can. Sometimes we may need others to help us. I remember a woman who was going through breast cancer treatment telling me that if her friends hadn’t pulled her up out of the dark pit she was in, she didn’t think she’d ever have gotten out. But, also hope is something we can develop, like a muscle. We can practice it when we’re not in such dire straits. We can practice believing “The Best is yet to come.”
There’s a book out about The Emotional Life of Your Brain. It revolves around what is being called “The New Science of Feelings.” One of the examples of the neuroplasticity of the brain talks about virtuoso musicians and how the part of the brain that involves the movement of the fingers, is larger for them. It also refers to a study where adults were asked to pretend practice the piano for several weeks and they found they too had enlarged that part of the brain.
So, as adults we can still change the condition of our brain if we choose. I know with the epidemic condition of Alzheimer's many of us are concerned with the health of our brains or those of our loved ones. It was once believed that adult brains were fixed, permanent and change could not take place. It’s nice to know they were wrong. And, once again, it shows the power of choosing and creating our thoughts. We get to expand those parts of our brains that support our desires to live more positive lives. Remember that which you think about, you bring about. We can choose to tell ourselves “The best is yet to come” and rest in the knowledge that our brains are receiving that message, our bodies are responding and our innermost desires are being completely supported.