April 21, 2012

When dreams die.

With all the talk about dying it is easy to focus on the tangible things that go away or disappear when we die. The things that we often leave behind incomplete because we didn't have the time or the will to carry through. We could have completed them if we had really wanted to but, for the most part, we chose not to. But sometimes we just run out of time.

So we miss out on seeing people, on going places, on doing things, on saying the things that we thought were important but which, ultimately, were not as high on the priority list as we thought. But that is so much water under the bridge. While some people may be offended because they are left out, there really shouldn't be any animonisty amongst close friends. Shit happens when you're dying

But then there are the less obvious things that don't get done. The hopes, the dreams, the intangibles of life. The things that have the potential to mean so much but which seem so unimportant when they don't get done. Our biggest hope is that we find a cure or at least find some kind of treatment that will keep us going for a long, long time. Sometimes that happens because medical science has stumbled upon some new miracle drug that works miracles on a particular cancer (it happens!) but even that doesn't feel miraculous because we pray so hard and have such unrealistic expectations of medicine to begin with. "Of course it happened. I fought hard and it paid off. You must not be fighting hard enough. Drink that wheat grass (or whatever) and you'll be just like me!" But there are so many hopes that go unmet and because they are not directly related to our disease and to our terminal prognosis they don't seem as connected or important, even though they are. I hope that my family doesn't grieve too long, but that might not happen and that would be sad indeed. I also hope that I have left them financially viable but have no control over the economy or what governments decide to do in their questionable wisdom. These hopes mean more to me than those other more discrete "things" yet I don't have as much control over them and they certainly bear more heavily on my mind.

And then there are the dreams which we leave behind. All through our lives we have dreams of what we are going to do with our career and more importantly with our money, our savings, our retirement funds and the time we will have to use them as we approach our golden years. When we are first married and in the workforce it seems we have forever to create that nest egg and set ourselves up for a retirement (hopefully early) where we can enjoy the fruits of all of our labours. Where life can pay us back for our contributions to society and to the economy. I see so many of my friends doing just that and I envy them so much. I certainly don't begrudge them because if things were different, that could just as well be me, but their success in achieving their dreams just emphasisizes how much I will miss my dream of retiring and spending the last several decades of my life with my wife and children and their children. Or my dreams of kayaking down the Baja or moving to a small town on a lake where I could work part time at something I liked and enjoy all the extra time I would have. What sweet dreams they have been and they have sustained me through my working life over many years of long hours in many cities, so often away from my children as they were growing up. And just as these dreams came tantalizingly close, they have been snatched away from me. They're gone, replaced with the more tangible hopes that Dianne and the kids will be okay.

It hurts. There's nothing good about it. But I'm hanging on to these last hopes and just have to accept the loss of those dreams that can now never be. In the meantime, my dreams are beginning to focus on what is waiting for me on the other side. So far, they're pretty positive and that's a good thing.

Personal Update

Great visit with my doctor. We have reached a floor with the steroids now and may have to go up a bit to avoid the muscle spasms and cramps I've been experiencing. He talked about the need to have a philosphy of care such that we need to worry about the day-to-day experience rather than the longer term effects. I had a severe fall on the weekend which he traced right to the cancer in my back and which resulted in a serious sprain to my right ankle. Just what I needed!

12 comments:

Lori Hope said...

Beautiful post, and although I have not been told I am dying, I feel as if I am, or at least will be if we do not discover soon the source of my pain, so I can relate to your experience in some small way.

The way you describe your hopes and dreams and how they have changed and in some ways shrunk down is so clear and well-stated and of course very moving. It brings to mind one of my favorite books, Necessry Losses, by Judith Viorst. Our timetable is just sped up.

My beloved stepmom was just here for my biopsy, and just back from 3 weeks in Croatia. Although for now I wouldn't want to travel even if I could because our animals bring me so much comfort and pleasure, I felt a deep pang of sorrow for myself, that I may never see Venice.

But I see it now as a tradeoff; I have made choices and choices have been made for me.

Thank you for inspiring thoughts, hopes (for you, your family and myself!), and even dreams. You are a blessing. Sorry, I know that's trite. But true.
Love to you and D,
Lor
wwww.lorihope.com/blog

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