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.