Dream New Dreams: Reimagining My Life After Loss
Author: Jai Pausch
Reviewed By: Anne Holmes for the NABBW
Jai Pausch, the widow of Randy Pausch -the Carnegie Mellon professor best known for authoring THE LAST LECTURE after his diagnosis of pancreatic cancer – gives us a remarkably frank, deeply moving and thematically rich memoir about death, dying and the grieving process.
In Dream New Dreams, we hear her story for the first time: her emotional journey from wife and mother to full-time caregiver, shuttling between her three young children and Randy\’s bedside as he sought treatment far from home; and then to widow and single parent, fighting to preserve a sense of stability for her family, while coping with her own grief and the challenges of running a household without a partner.
I had a personal interest in this story since my first husband died of cancer while our two children were pre-teens. While I also experienced the pain of helping young children learn to grieve a parental death, I was never technically a grieving wife, nor a widow, as we had divorced about a year prior to his initial diagnosis, and I remarried before his death.
Regardless, I discovered that the loving ties which had initially bound us were never totally severed. I don\’t think they ever can be whenever any couple shares custody of their children. But let\’s get back to the book:
Jai paints a vivid, honest portrait of a vital, challenging relationship between two strong people facing a grim prognosis and the self-sacrificing decisions it required them to make. This was a challenge, for her. As Randy Pausch had written of her: “Jai is such a giver that she often forgets to take care of herself. She\’ll have to give herself permission to make herself a priority.”
As the book progresses, we see Jai start to face life without the husband she called her “magic man.” We see her start to create a new life of hope and happiness, and as she puts it, to begin to “feel a spark of my own magic beginning to flicker.”
I loved this quote towards the end of the book:
“Life is a precious gift and I don\’t intend to waste a day of it. Have I experienced tragedy? Yes, I have. But it would be another real tragedy if I didn\’t recover from the sadness I felt and thus missed the many happy moments along the way. Was my dream crushed? Yes, it was. And that will happen again. But when it does, I will pick up those pieces and create something new. I will always dream new dreams.”
Wise words for all of us.
Actively involved with a number of Boomer-focused organizations and committees, Anne keeps a steady finger on the pulse of this still-spirited generation, with the goal of helping us all to enjoy life, stay healthy and continue to live lives that are rich in every sense of the word. Beyond that, Anne is dedicated to helping facilitate the positive interaction between Baby Boomers and the hard-working younger generations who are readying themselves to “take the world’s reins” and continue our efforts to move society in a positive direction.