I remember those hot summer days that had skies full of clouds. As I would watch them floating high, I would dream like the isolated country girl with no one to share dreams. I would dream about my life and think about what I would become. I can’t recall anything that I specifically dreamed, but I am sure that I never anticipated that I would be living this kind of life at this age. I never dreamed that I would be this age. Whatever I thought that my life would hold, I never saw this. I know that my husband, the Chicago boy that he was, never dreamed of leaving this world like this. He didn’t have time to dream. In his long summer days, he would hop a train from Wakeagon, run numbers for the goombas and hop a train back to his parents and the parsonage before they even knew he wasn’t in the house. At fifteen, he didn’t have to dream because he was always finding ways to get out of the house.
I remember one of the pecular things that my husband said when he was first diagnosed. He said that he had just begun to believe that we would grow old together. A little later when I asked him about that comment , he didn’t remember saying it. His comment revealed a hidden doubt about our “golden years”. A thought was just outside of his consciencousness that fell out under the shock of the diagnosis. Maybe he was afraid that our marriage would not be able to with stand the pressures of the circumstances and events (too many to innumerate) of the past few years. He, like me, never saw “retirement” as an option from a finacial perspective. Or, maybe, deep within himself, something told him that he would not be here. It may have been one of those Fruedian slips full of subconscous revelation of the future. For now, it will be filed in my mind under “mystery”.
I know that if we ever had specific dreams ( like retiring in Florida), such dreams disappeared in the light of this reality. This journey requires the rethinking and re evaluating of everything. Nothing that we ever knew as familiar is a reality or even a possibility. The sensible thing to do would be to re evaluate and draw a new map for our life, but the uncertainity of survival causes paralysis of every thought or idea. We no longer have any resources to accomplish anything that we would plan. Expending energy towards planning for living has to give way to planning for an ending. Planning also implys that you have a tool or resource that can be used to accomplish whatever you plan. We don’t have that either. So, we live in the shadow of the dreams of the life that we once knew. We live presently only. But isn’t that reality? Isn’t the Lord’s Prayer about “…give us this day our daily bread…”? There is no lay away plan or future security implied. But, we still plan and we still try to plan for a future.
When my husband began treatment, a good acquaintance was in the same infusion room. We met him and his wife through our dog and we valued their friendship. His cancer was very advanced at the time of diagnosis so the oncologist gave him little hope of a long survival. He kept saying, “Just ninty days, all I need is ninty more days”. He was trying to bring about every dream that he had for his life into fruition in those ninty days. Unfortuantely, he didn’t get ninty days. He only had sixty and he had to leave the dreams behind. Now, his widow lives in the Shadow of their dreams.
Everything in me struggles to look forward. I know scripture says that “….without vision (dreams) my people perish” so survival demands the finding of new dreams, visions and new maps. I seem to have lost the energy to pursue new dreams. To do that would mean leaving him behind and my heart stops. A horrible sob comes up into my throat and the tears well up in my eyes. Leaving him out of any new dream is unthinkable. Yet, I know, I must dream again. I will have to choose to live or to hide in the Shadow of My Dreams. So instead, he and I plan next years garden, imagine the face of our new grandchild (the baby is coming in the spring) and we pray, “Give us each day…..”