Dream (verb): Indulge in daydreams or fantasies about something greatly desired
We used to have these huge end-of-year parties at university, I’m talking HUGE. Hundreds of thousands of pounds spent on one-off all-night balls. It was the posh university equivalent of Supermarket Sweep – once you were let in (dressed up in black tie and ballgowns), it was an absolute free-for-all.
Full-on fair grounds, entertainment from 8pm through til 6am (“what time’s the firework display over the river later? How many music stages are there this year? When’s that famous comedian performing? Fancy watching a hypnotist?”), incredible decorations (“was that an ice sculpture? Do you think someone hand-painted those 50ft banners?”), unlimited food and drink: you name it (all-night doughnut stands, pizza vans, chocolate fountains, ice cream counters, champagne bars, hog roasts and full fry-ups), they had it. You needed a map to navigate the grounds and a programme if you wanted to organise your evening. You’d even be able to spot celebrities walking around, famous alumni returning ‘home’ for the evening. One year, one college was even offering hot-air balloon rides. It truly was the stuff dreams are made of. An event that I never, in my wildest of dreams, could have imagined attending.
A couple of years after we graduated, a group of us went back, simply to attend one more ball. We were dancing around to a Take-That tribute band, when they sang:
“Someday soon, this will all be someone else’s dream”
I had one of those incredibly lucid moments: I was so happy, mindfully elated. Belly and heart full. Dancing with James and our friends, singing along to those lyrics, it really did hit me: someday soon, this really will be someone else’s dream. What was once just a dream for me, was now over, it was time to pass the baton. That was 2008, but I can still feel that moment. Bittersweet.
I’m not sure why I thought about that evening, perhaps because I’ve been willing myself towards gratitude this year – I’m trying to remember how happy we were, before all the loss. And though it’s not the same, it’s had me thinking, life will not always be this way either.
I know why it’s hard for us, because we’ve had a glimpse of something: of me being pregnant, of us being parents. Our dream completely unfulfilled, already someone else’s. We will always live with it and when we transport ourselves back, we will always feel it acutely, but someday soon, we may not be living it daily, in this same way. We might, we might not. (Is this what my counsellor meant about “living side by side with grief”? Breakthrough?) Sometimes we live dreams and sometimes we live nightmares, but so few things last a lifetime. Death and memories, yes. Moments, no.
Yesterday was a hard day (my first in a while, it’s been a good streak), today is better. Someday soon, who knows? Maybe it will get considerably easier. Lord knows, I didn’t think I would be writing that, or a remotely positive blog, even a month ago. The me of my earlier days of loss would be scoffing. Heck, the me in a week’s time, may well be. So if that is you today, scoff away. I get it.
But the me of today – this particular day – is remembering how far I’ve come, and with any luck, how far I still have to go. Though I wish our story hadn’t diverged onto this path – from someone else’s dream to our personal nightmare – this is where we are. And if I transport myself back to my childhood, I never dreamed I would be here at 35, but that’s both a positive and negative reflection. What am I getting at? It’s not all bad.
For the last 10+ years, I’ve completed an end of year reflection which I mentioned previously here, but I didn’t do it at the end of 2020, I found December too hard, what with all the cumulative medical knocks. But I’m feeling a bit stronger now, so perhaps I’ll take time to sit and take stock of 2020 – the good and the bad – for who doesn’t love a list?
Today I found another list. For years I’ve had one on my phone entitled “things I would tell my 10 year old self” which I add to, every so often, and I’ve been reading it today. No-one would tell a 10 year old about the baby loss journey they have ahead, so I thought I’d share some of the things I do have on there, for they’re worth remembering too. I hope this makes you smile and if so, perhaps you’ll complete one too? For we’ve all come so far.
“Never forget where you’ve come here from”
And there are still so many places to go.
Things I would tell my 10 year old self:
- Don’t give Miss B your certificates for ‘safe keeping’
- Start reading Austen and the Brontë’s now (you can skip Charlotte’s stuff)
- You know how you want to be a princess when you grow up? Well, you’ll get married in a tower, complete with ramparts
- You WILL win first place at DD dance studio. And it will be in Rock and Roll! Keep practising
- You WILL get to see the Spice Girls perform live in concert, from the sixth row, in fact – it’s totally worth the wait
- Dad will not be here forever, but it will be ok
- Don’t worry. You will get great GCSEs. Super great
- Not going to WCH is the right decision, no matter what M says
- You will get through your teenage years without a broken heart (but be nice to the boys)
- You really like beetroot. Don’t wait until you’re 26 to try it!
- You’re going to get into Cambridge Uni and the parties will blow your mind
- You will marry that boy that on first impression, you thought was very arrogant. It’s a funny story
- One day M.G will ask you to be a bridesmaid and you will cry
- You will write an article that is read and quoted by someone in government
- When you grow up, you’re going to play in the Crystal Maze!
- You’ll get out, Anj, you’ll be lucky enough to think “where in the world do I want to go?” and you will go. You’ll even go on business trips to amazing destinations like Venice, Tokyo, Paris, Washington and New York. One particular week, you’ll have a meeting at Downing Street and another on Wall Street
- If you’ve enjoyed the conversation, chances are, they’ve enjoyed it too
- You’re going to be ok
- Keep the faith, you’ve got this
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