We may call it what we will; a bend in the road, a closed door, a dream deferred. It’s disappointing when plans are rearranged and the little house of hope we’ve been building seems like it crumbled. When years of hard work and hours of study went into something that was supposed to be almost finished. When illness and surgery and recovery seem to get in the way of graduating to a new stage. When it feels like disappointment and delay are equal to failure.
But only for a little while. The human condition being what it is, we’ll eventually want to rebuild, dust off, stand up and make new dreams, while keeping an open and ready spot for that dream deferred. I will admit that I can easily get caught up in the arrival- the finish line- the assumption that when I complete this, or acquire that, my ship will have come in. I have made the mistake of thinking of this stage in our life as a means-to-an-end more often than I embrace it as a gift. I incorrectly think that the sweet taste of accomplishing something is more important than the act of working toward it. And in that I’m wrong. Because our life is spent with more time journeying than arriving. And it’s high time I woke up, looked around and accepted that.
Isn’t it in that place of uncertainty where dreams begin? That while we don’t know what’s ahead, there’s something so hopeful, so positive about the future? – The unknown, the anticipation, the constant working toward something. I’m learning lessons and taking stock. My Dad told me this through my tears: “Life’s biggest disappointments sometimes teach us its greatest lessons.” And I know he’s right. And isn’t that what we want? To learn, and to grow with the learning.
So, I’m going to begin dusting off. Standing up. And running through a list in my head of things that I’ve wanted to do but didn’t have the time to because I was studying. Things like healing. And resting. Important, wonderfully mundane things, like biking around the neighborhood with my 3 children. Holding their hands as we go on a hike instead of rushing to get home to open a Medication Calculations textbook. Because, face it, Betsy, they’ll only hold your hand for just a little while longer. Making time to make plans that aren’t plans at all– like going on a Sunday drive to see the beauty of New England in autumn, instead of spending time worrying about Monday’s Pharmacology exam. Staying up late to see the stars on a bitterly cold winter night. Planting more flowers in the spring. Spending Saturday mornings making breakfast and laughing with Paul. Going out for dinner, just the two of us, soaking in the quiet and companionship. Spending more time with my parents. Visiting my grandparents. Having company over. Going to lunch with my sisters. Making more time for others. Calling up my sisters-in-law. Checking in with my mother-in-law. Letting the kids have friends over after school. Finding time to enjoy the bedtime routine, the laughing, the singing, the evening sounds that will be silenced someday- someday sooner than I think. Helping them with homework. Baking cookies. Doing fun, silly everyday things that don’t feel like the everyday. Creating with my hands. Playing the piano. Leafing through saved issues of Country Living so I can make all sorts of crafty-somethings for the house. Reading a book. No, a real book. Not a textbook. A book. For no reason at all. And through the wonderfully simple, everyday moments, having the time to relish it all and rest. Because too often over the last 3 years of schooling, I’ve had to struggle to find the time to even do that. Struggled to find the time to rest, to breathe deeply, to just be.
So school will have to wait a little while. Having those two letters after my name will happen, just later than we planned. Because, as much as I want to get that long-sought-after diploma and begin working as an RN, as tearful and disappointing and downright difficult as it has been to make this decision, I know it’s the right thing. The hard thing. I know that school will be there. It can wait. But my health won’t. Time won’t. So now, while I am learning life lessons instead of medical terms, I know that a dream deferred doesn’t die. It will wait, too. And in the interim, we’ll be dreaming new dreams and living the everyday. The fantastically mundane. And soaking up every little moment.
“Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.”
-Langston Hughes, American poet (1902-1967)