Love Letter to a Broken Dream

“We’re going to have a baby.”  My wife gave me a tremendous squeeze.
“Wow, I don’t know what to say.”
“It’s the beginning of a great adventure,” she sang.
We were so happy. Everything was perfect. We had brilliant careers, a solid relationship and a jet-set lifestyle of enviable spontaneity. Now, we would add the perfect child to our perfect everything. We’d decided to have only one child. It would be a girl because we felt that would be perfect. We would send her to the best schools. She would grow up to become a famous artist or scientist.

What could possibly go wrong?

Broken Dreams. Picture of Savannah as a baby.
At the time, we lived in Morocco, so her name would be Savannah after the African savanna, and Marguerite after my grandmother. We chose a boy’s name, just in case... We wrote our dreams for her in a shared journal that we passed back and forth. I even sketched a self-portrait on one of the pages. I was twenty-nine years old. That journal rests, unmolested, on a shelf alongside other notebooks from that time period. Not long ago I thought I’d open it up, but decided against it. I didn’t want to disturb the dust or the false memories within. I know what is written on the pages, and I can’t bear to read them Each page is like a love letter to a broken dream. The story is too painful all these years later. I am sad for this young couple, who are confident in their future. I still see them standing together in an old photograph. They look so young, so beautiful and innocent, so full of hope and energy. I want their dreams to come true. I don’t want to think of them having their hearts broken and their dream-life plans ruined. I want their story to take a different path, the one outlined in that journal, the one that begins “Once upon a time” and ends “happily ever after.”  

I want to spare them from the story that actually unfolds.

Their story doesn’t have a “Hollywood ending.” Theirs is the story of adversity and disability. They'll have to come to terms with the ugly truth about life: we expect one thing, but something else happens. They will cling to their dreams until they understand how to let them go and mourn for them, too. They will learn the long game and how to and save their strength in order to survive another day. 

They will traverse an alien landscape in which they will become strangers, even to themselves. In the end, they will find joy amidst the sorrow, learn to appreciate the small moments, and emerge stronger, wiser, and able to take on a new world of possibilities.

Though much of the story is sad, it’s ultimately better than “happily ever after.” 
We learned to see the world from a different perspective. We learned to be wrong… that life can be planned, but it’s more like improv. 

We learned how to live and say “yes” to the possibilities.

Learn more about this amazing journey and the book it inspired...

Read the first article in this series: Parenting a Disabled Child: The Realities of Life and Death.

You can also find me on:

Twitter @dsborden

#disability #specialneeds #parenting #grief #inspiration #transcendence #hope #love #family #birth #birthtrauma #braininjury #microcephaly #traumaticbirth


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