I have a good friend who recently received life changing news. What it was doesn't matter - but what it did to her future and plans does.
It changed them irrevocably.
To what extent, we don't know. But dreams and plans she thought were (in some ways) concrete just...aren't anymore.
As we've talked, I've discovered an empathy for her situation that I didn't know I would have - because I've experienced the lost dreams as well.
When I was pregnant with Kasey, I thought that I knew what that reality would look like. Little girls, sisters....they play and pretend and fight and makeup. They laugh and sing and dress up. They beg mommy for popsicles and snacks, and they have very serious discussions about the most bizarre things. Sometimes I listen and laugh. Sometimes I listen and my eyes sting - and I want to cry.
The point is - I dreamed every day of what fun they would have and how they would aggravate each other.
And one day last summer, driving through the middle of town, I saw little boys signing up for pee-wee football. Five, six, or seven - they were tiny in their shoulder pads and jerseys. They played in a vacant lot, tossing a football back and forth while the parents manned the signup tables and laughed and talked together.
I pulled over and cried. Then I called my best friend.
Because I was suddenly hit with the reality that my sons will never do those things. I will never sign them up for sports or watch them toss a ball back and forth. I will never see them show frogs or crickets to their big sisters...or plot truly diabolical revenge when they feel wronged.
I realized that I had lost unknown dreams. The things I have never experienced, but imagined I would have...with them.
When we lose dreams there is a vacant spot left behind. And there is nothing, really, that fills it up. I still have hopes and dreams for Dancer and Diva. They are a wonder that never ceases. But the mental picture I had of our family, and the dreams I had for each of those lost children are....gone.
Sometimes, if it's something simple - like a job or a degree - you can find a new dream. A better dream. The hard part for me is these are dreams that are not replaceable.
In fact, they are dreams that I have to say goodbye to over and over again. Some dreams are like that - the loss hits you at odd moments. You realize that somewhere inside was still that want. Or, that you were holding a dream you didn't realize you even had.
We all, I think, have lost some dreams. For Casanova it was understanding that he should probably aspire higher than driving Jimmy Carter's peanut trucks (to be fair, he was 7). For others it might have been realizing that being an astronaut just wasn't in the cards.
I thought my dreams were fairly simple. Losing them though, however simple they seemed, has left a gaping hole. And I'm thinking of all the people I know - all the people I've met - whose dreams are just as shattered...just as lost.
I know that they, too, sometimes wonder who they are and where they're going. Because our dreams, in many ways, define us. And too many of ours are gone.