Remember how back in January I said I was going to do a monthly “Thinking” series? Well I did two and then dropped it. Not that I’ve not been thinking but rather I’ve been thinking so many complex things that it’s been hard to pinpoint topics and write about them.
My mother has end stage cirrhosis of the liver. She’s pretty much been in decline since I moved back to Los Angeles in April of 2014. She finally got Medicare then (didn’t have health coverage for 2-3 years prior) and then the doctors were finally able to help her – that was really the beginning of the end. This past year has been even more dramatic. As you can imagine, I’ve thus been thinking about a lot: anger, guilt, sadness, worry, the past, the future, guilt, anger, guilty for being angry, then sadness, then anger at the sadness, and finally some more guilt. I found it easier to not write about it all because it’s been overwhelming and I’m already barely able to keep it together and take care of myself. And trying not to feel guilty for taking care of myself.
Then today, I began to think about dreaming. I have access to all of my mother’s log in details and saw some messages she had a few years ago (while I was still in London) with some friends about some elaborate an Europe trip we were going to take. Another message about a Hawaiian trip. We were always talking about taking trips together – well we would dream about taking trips together. We would dream about a lot of things. I remember as a kid we’d always go to open houses and dream about what we’d do if we owned it. Take down this wall, paint this room that, put that here and so on.
One year we talked about going to Italy, started to really plan it. Then of course, reality would hit and my mother would break the illusion saying we couldn’t afford it. I would get so angry. I would get angry that my mother taught me to dream just to be crushed by the reality that big dreams are only for those who can afford them.
I started to resent my mother for teaching me to dream. I feared a life of mediocrity. Of wanting to dream big, but not sure how to make them come true. Of course, dreams change over time. I used to dream of being a famous actress, now I dream a simply sustaining a life as a theatre artist and keeping my sanity. Things also get put into perspective when the person who was your foundation, your rock, your champion, and your biggest fan begins to disappear right in front of you – in an excruciatingly slow and painful way.
I constantly have to remind myself what a privileged life I have. And it’s solely due to the fact that my mother taught me to dream. She taught me if I could dream it, then maybe, just maybe, I could achieve it. She also taught me with big dreams, comes a whole lotta work. I have the privilege to call myself an artist, a professional make believer. I have the privilege of telling stories. I have the privilege of a wondrous and fulfilling life bursting with love, art, passion, and joy. All thanks to a beautiful and marvelous mother whose dreams for me never wavered. For someone who had such a traumatic life and be able to teach her daughter that life could be so much more is a gift.
I see that now. It’s taken me 30 years to see, but now that I do I can’t squander it. So I keep dreaming. I dream about my future children, and how I’ll tell them stories of their grandmother who dreamed of holding them in her arms, but who never will. I’ll teach them to dream as deeply and fully as my mother did.
May your dreams continue to inspire and guide you. May you never stop dreaming.by