Gabrielle was watching Xena through a viewing hole in the ground. There were times when she really hated how time flew in heaven and in the spirit realm and it was slowed to a crawl in the living world. She had left Xena in that pit it seemed like hours ago. Since then she had watched while Xena’s abdomen had filled with blood and her face had turned white and still she hung on to life. Oh, how she hated seeing her beloved in pain…
“Mother” A woman’s beautiful voice said from behind her. It was a voice that Gabrielle recognized. It was her own or it had been hers as well as another’s. She stood and turned slowly she wasn’t sure what to expect. They were in heaven but not all things in heaven were what she would consider good.
She turned completely and came face to face with a woman that looked a great deal like her but not quite the same. This was the face of the woman whose body she had just left. “Hope” Gabrielle breathed the name. She could hardly believe what she was seeing.
Hope was just as flabbergasted. She was looking at her mother through different eyes. She had been taught to hate this woman and to pity her mortality and her weaknesses. But she could not find those emotions in her heart today. Her heart was near to bursting with love and a desire for her mother’s acceptance. But Hope had no idea what to do. She just nodded.
Upon seeing her long lost daughter Gabrielle was overcome with compassion and love. She stood there looking at the child that she had never been able to hold or kiss or… anything. Hope had been her daddy’s little girl. Tears sprang to Gabrielle’s eyes and she held out her arms to her daughter.
Hope was surprised and dismayed at the same time. It looked for a moment like her mother would reject her and she was afraid. But then suddenly Gabrielle’s arms opened wide and bid her to come and be held. She rushed into her mother’s arms for the very first time and found all of the love and forgiveness and acceptance that she could ever need or desire.
The two women stood holding one another for a very long time crying into each other’s golden hair. Gabrielle kept telling Hope how much she loved her and how she was so happy to see her. Hope’s voice had been stilled by the strong emotions that were coursing through her. ‘So this is what it felt like to have your mother’s love.’ She had given this to her daughters but the last mother that had given her life had died before Hope could realize what she had.
Slowly and reluctantly Gabrielle loosened her grip on her eldest child. She did not let go. She leaned back and touched Hope’s face and wiped the tears from her cheeks. Hope did not let go of her either but she was a bit shy at having Gabrielle look her in the face.
“I’m so sorry that I hurt you Mother…” Hope began but was quieted by Gabrielle.
“Ssshhh, sweetie none of that matters. It wasn’t you, I knew that even then. I never blamed you.” Gabrielle could finally say the words that she had longed to say to her child.
Hope lowered her head in shame. “Xena blamed me.” It was a statement and an accusation and it carried fear but not anger, at least not an anger that was aimed at Xena. “She was right… I was evil.” New tears sprang to her eyes.
“It’s true that Xena saw you for what you were. But she also saw that you had been redeemed.” Hope looked up at her. She could hardly believe what Gabrielle was saying.
“Xena saw it? Did you?” Hope just couldn’t believe it.
“Oh I saw it too but I thought that I was just having another bout of wishful thinking. But Xena confirmed what I was seeing.” She gathered her child to her breast once again. This time Hope clung to her like she was a life preserver in a vast empty ocean.
After another very long time Hope pushed away from her. She had sadness written on her face.
“What is it dear?” Gabrielle was suddenly fearful.
“I can’t stay long to talk with you. I didn’t earn this meeting… you did. But soon Xena will be here and you must leave. I don’t want you to go Mother.” Fresh tears ran down her cheeks.
“Oh baby I will always be in your heart now.” Gabrielle reassured her.
“There are so many… emotions and things that I want to ask you about. I don’t know where to begin.” She kissed her mother’s palm; it was salty with her own tears.
“Which one bothers you the most?” Gabrielle knew but she wanted Hope to realize things for herself.
Hope looked down and thought for awhile. She was torn between asking her mother the right questions and the time constraint that she had. “When I died at the hands of the Destroyer… ” She didn’t say her son or even have any emotion for the child that she had borne and that had ultimately killed her. “… I was of course sent to Tartarus. I deserved to be there. But then Xena killed Hades… it was big news in Tartarus. Without his control Tartarus became a very dangerous place to be even for me.” Her inner embarrassment made her pause.
Gabrielle urged her to continue. “After what seemed like an eternity the One God sent Angels to Tartarus and the Elysian Fields. Those in the Elysian Fields were offered a deal. They could convert and return with the Angels to heaven or they could choose death and something called the Final Judgment. In the Final Judgment they kind of take their chances. Their redemption would be determined by what they did in life. Personally I would have taken the amnesty. But I didn’t have the choice. I was bound for hell. But then something else happened. Just as I was being rounded up with the rest of Tartarus I actually felt my father die.” She was looking into Gabrielle’s eyes. She was expecting to see disapproval or anger but she saw only love and understanding.
“When he died something inside me died as well. It was like all of the hatred and anger was just simply gone and for the first time I was afraid… really afraid. I started to beg the Angels to let me see the one in charge. I was certain that something had suddenly changed me and that I shouldn’t be going to hell. They weren’t going to help me but just when I thought that I would be lost a man appeared. He was wearing long flowing robes and he had a beard and long hair. He said that he knew you and that he knew the story of your daughter… me. I thought that he would condemn me. But instead he talked to me for a long time. After speaking with me he took me to a place that seemed to be between two other realms. It was in the clouds above the earth and it had tall brown spires and that is where he introduced me to another man. He was the guy that sits on the right hand of this One God. His name was Jesus. He talked to me for a while and then he told me that you had earned enough for him to take a chance on my redemption. So he granted me acceptance into heaven.
I was given a set of rules and some ultimatums and then I was reborn into the woman that you see before you now. This is what I would have looked like had I not stolen your visage.” She smiled and looked down at her body. Gabrielle was smiling as well. “But once alive again I found that I felt empty… not completely empty, but there was something missing. I spent my life… the short life that I had searching for whatever I had lost. Of course I wasn’t as aware of who I was before, I didn’t have my old memories. But I knew that something was missing and I needed to find it.” She was looking into her mother’s eyes once again. “Can you tell me what I’ve lost and how to find it again?”
Gabrielle had been waiting for this question. “You know what you have lost. You have lost the part of your soul that your father filled. But you can’t have him back. He’s gone… and honestly I wouldn’t want you to have him back. I’m glad he’s gone. He took all of his essence with him when he left and he left you with all that I gave you. Even so you feel incomplete. I think that only a God can fill that part of you Hope. You are a…or you were a demigod, I think… and you must have a God to fill that half of your soul.” Gabrielle knew that she couldn’t tell her which God she must choose. Hope had to make that choice for herself.
“So I need to choose a God and accept him or her into me and allow them to fill that empty part of me with their essence. I knew that… somewhere inside of me. I knew that.” Hope was nodding to herself.
“Yes, you must choose.” Gabrielle confirmed.
“But which God do I choose mother?” She pled.
“I can’t tell you that Hope. Only you can decide which God you will serve. It must be your choice and yours alone.” Gabrielle desperately wanted to tell Hope which God she would suggest but she knew that she couldn’t, it wouldn’t be right.
She could see in Hope’s face that she understood. “Xena has died and is returning. I must go.”
“I know, I can feel her.” Gabrielle’s eyes became unfocussed for a moment.
“You could always feel her couldn’t you?” She wasn’t jealous but she was beginning to understand.
“Yes, I could always feel her.” She didn’t want to lose her daughter, not for any reason. She held Hope’s arms in her hands as if she could keep her with her despite the fact that she knew that she couldn’t.
Hope knew what Gabrielle wanted and she also knew that it couldn’t be. “Mother, I always wanted you at my side, even when I was doing my Father’s will. It broke my heart when you wouldn’t leave her to be with me. That’s how I saw it and it made me jealous. But I don’t see it that way anymore. You didn’t choose Xena over me. You chose light over darkness. You couldn’t follow Dahak. You could never follow Dahak. He was not a God that you could respect or serve.
He was my Father but I didn’t love him. I couldn’t love him. He tried to drive love out of me. But I still wanted you with me. I still felt… something for you. He couldn’t drive you from me.” She was talking as quickly as she could.
“But you follow this God and Xena follows you. Xena didn’t want to kill me. She wanted to protect you. There’s a huge difference between those two things. I understand that now.” She looked back at her mother. She had not realized that she had looked away. “I have a lot to think about mother and you must go and be with Xena. I don’t know if she cares but tell her I’m sorry. I never wanted to bring you harm. But I was jealous… I’m sorry that I killed her son.” There was true remorse in her voice. She really was sorry.
Gabrielle pulled her daughter to her once again. “She knows, Hope. But I’ll tell her what you said anyway.” She buried her head into Hope’s neck. “I love you Hope. I love you so much and I can’t tell you how happy I am that you are here.” She was crying again and so was Hope. Gabrielle kissed her on the cheek and their tears mingled. They had no idea when or even if they would see each other again.
“I love you too mother. Thank you…for loving me.” She could no longer speak. But she did tighten her grip on her mother’s waist.
They both felt the tug at the same time. It was time for them to go their separate ways. As they parted they said a few final words to one another.
“I’ll make you proud of me mother.” Hope promised.
“Oh Hope, I’ve always been proud of you. You’re my daughter and I love you.” Gabrielle didn’t really lie she just played with semantics.
Hope saw through it. “How could you be proud of some of the things that I did?” She smiled.
“Well there were times when I was a little disappointed in your choices.” Gabrielle reluctantly admitted.
“Then I will make better choices mother.” The pull became too great to resist. She began to walk away and disappear into the mist. “I love you mother and Xena as well.”
Gabrielle had not moved but she saw her eldest daughter disappear into the mist. “We love you too Hope.” She called after the disembodied voice and prayed that Hope could hear her. She would find out much later that God had granted the request.