Author: Jai Pausch
Genre: Non-fiction, Memoir
A deeply moving memoir by the woman whose late husband, Randy Pausch, wrote ‘The Last Lecture’.
Reading non-fiction turned out to be a revealing experience for me. It shattered my misconception about non-fiction being hard to understand, difficult to process because there would be too many facts, and boring because that is the general idea of it.
Dream New Dreams contributed to my change in perception. It let me know that facts could be emotional, too, and that they count. Jai Pausch was her husband’s primary caregiver and she wrote this memoir after losing him in 2008. Four years later, Jai published her experience as a caregiver and how cancer takes a toll on not just the patient, but the people around them.
One of Randy’s favorite sayings was, “Plan for the worst; hope for the best.”
Jai and Randy weren’t a perfect couple; they were a couple that worked on themselves and on building their life, keeping all communication channels open. I gave the book a top rating because of the practical, realistic and raw nature of it. There are things Jai will tell you that are quite taboo in real life, but it’s true; she speaks of things that people think, but don’t say out loud. That resonated with me because I try to improve the way I communicate, constantly, and believe me, it’s an important thing to work on.
In their whole experience, first as a couple and then as a patient and caregiver, Randy and Jai discussed and presented all their ideas and thoughts on the table, no matter how hard it was to talk about something. The case in point here was Randy’s impending death and how they were to cope after they lost him.
Jai’s memoir is relevant to anyone who has ever had to do something for someone else, whether or not they wanted to do so. There is so much energy that is spent and not much of it visible to the onlookers. She documents her little wins and failures in the memoir, in terms of Randy’s health, bringing up their children and creating a space for conversations of loss and love.
It is not easy to lose someone, and it’s even worse when you know it’s going to happen, when you watch it as it happens. Staying rational among all that is what I think Jai and Randy did best. They set goals for now and later, explored options for the family and for Jai, and created a balance between accepting cancer and preparing for life after his death.
As a mother, Jai placed her children first, when it came to care and comfort, but she also moves on to self – care, which is very often neglected when you are a caregiver yourself. You refuse to accept at that point that you need some maintenance, too, and that it is alright to care for yourself or let someone care for you. Caregivers are considered pillars of strength, but pillars can crack and crumble as well, sometimes on the inside.
“Please don’t die,” I said to Randy when I hugged him onstage. “All the magic will go out of my life.” Because he was my magic man. Without him, I believed nothing special or fun would ever happen to me or to our children again.”
Magic didn’t exist for a while after he passed away, but I loved how Jai wrote about making your own magic and believing that you can do so, and that it is alright to do so. Their love for Randy makes my heart beat faster and offers more perspectives than I can manage to practice, but I try.
I read Dream New Dreams hoping to understand the other side of an illness, but I ended up understanding more about how a family or a couple can function no matter what life throws at them; the best way is to leave channels of communication and emotions open, in order to acknowledge and attend to them.
I will be reading this over and over again, for the rest of my life.
Reader. Learner. Dreamer.
I am all about the little things in life!