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The Loss of a Dream

By Kathy Bosworth



We all grow up with dreams and fantasies for our future.  In a perfect world, little girls dream of finding their Prince Charming and living happily ever after.  Iím not sure what little boys dream of since Iíve never been one; yet, I would be willing to bet they see their future with a beautiful wife and perfect children. No one envisions a life with physical disabilities, mental incapacities, becoming a caregiver, or needing help. Nonetheless, life sometimes has other plans for us.

Two major events in my life caused me to rethink my dreams and to readjust my expectations. First, my mother had a massive stroke.  The mother I knew wasnít coming back; I had to learn to accept the ďnew Mom."  I had to re-evaluate the expectations I had for her and for our relationship.

The second unexpected event in my life occurred when my first grandchild was born. She was the most beautiful baby. As the years went by it was becoming more and more obvious that something was amiss. By the time she entered school, she was a ďspecial needsĒ child. I sure didnít see that one coming.  I am the Grannie that kept thinking she would outgrow the issues that plagued her. I am also the same daughter that kept thinking Mom would snap out of it after her stroke. Denial is a strong emotion. 

What do you do when life goes in a different direction? I found that educating yourself is a very powerful tool to get you through life. It doesnít matter what the situation is. It could be the research on a stroke or research on a child born with Touretteís syndrome. Knowledge is essential to acceptance. 

Once I understood that I couldnít make my mother get over the stroke quickly, I learned patience and tolerance. Once I figured out that neither she nor I had control over the outcome, I learned to relax. Once I opened my eyes and really saw the new person Mom had become, I finally learned acceptance. She was still Mom and although she didnít know who I was; we had a lot of laughs and some good times. We made more memories for me to hold close to my heart.

Acceptance came much slower when the subject was my granddaughter.  How do you cope with the loss of a dream? My dream was for this beautiful, kind and caring child to someday have it all. I wanted only the best for her.  Yet, as the years went by I had to take my head out of the sand and see things for what they really were. Life was going to be very difficult for her and her family. I guess most families have their difficulties, but this one hit me in my gut.  It hit me in a place where nothing else had before. I went through the tears, the denial, and even some guilt. There were those times in the wee hours of the morning when I couldnít sleep because a nagging little voice was asking me if perhaps those were my genes that caused her such a painful diagnosis.

I think guilt is a wasted emotion. It neither helps nor comforts anyone. Tears can be therapeutic for a short period but they shouldnít continue forever.  Denial is the tough one to deal with if you ask me. But when you get to a point where you canít deny, you must learn to cope. 

I never thought I could cope with the realities of a mother with a stroke, but I did. You take it one day at a time and do the best you can. The same holds true with a special needs child. You make sure their needs are met and everything is being done to insure their happiness. In both cases you must be vigilant to make sure their quality of life is as good as it possibly can be. Sometimes it is easier when the stroke is minor and sometimes itís easier when a childís learning disabilities are minimal. But whatever life holds in store for us, we have to hit it head on.

I finally learned acceptance with my granddaughter when it hit me how much I love her and always will. She has a wonderful family as a support group. They will help to shield her from lifeís hard knocks. Another positive is that she is getting special help and itís working! She is learning to read, write, and focus on her schoolwork. This is a huge challenge that she is conquering.  It has been slow and itís hard for her (the same as PT was for Mom) but she is rising to the occasion. There is no way to tell how her journey through life will go.  But then again, do any of us have guarantees? 

I now look at it as a different dream instead of a lost dream. Lost dream indicates that dreams are gone. Dreams are never gone if you donít want them to be.

If you find your dreams are taking a detour to places you donít want to go, you are not alone. I think that people find themselves in a quandary when the unexpected happens. It happens to all of us.  Itís part of life. 

If I had to give a few pointers to dealing with lifeís curveballs they would be:

  1. Obtain as much knowledge as you can.
  2. Join a support group. If there isnít one near you, start your own
  3. Write a journal of your feelings and thoughts. It can be very therapeutic.
  4. Let go of the guilt if there is any.
  5. Learn to accept the new direction your life is taking. You have no other choice.
  6. Donít isolate yourself. Talk to family and friends about your fears.


Kathy Bosworth is author of ďYour Mother has Suffered a Slight Stroke.Ē

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