Widower Wednesday: Making New Dreams

Just wanted to thank everyone again who submitted stories for my book. I’m going through them this week and will start updating people on which ones will appear in the book in the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned for more information about the book.


In a recent column in the Wall Street Journal, Katy McLaughlin wrote about how the death of her 41-year-old cousin caused her to think about the things she wanted to do with her life but for various reasons hadn’t done them. After re-evaluating them she realized that she and her husband “lacked real enthusiasm for the things we’d spent so many years wanting. Our old dreams, it seemed, didn’t fit us anymore.”

McLaughlin ends her essay with the following:

When I was a young feminist, I would have been appalled by the notion of erasing my own passions and subsuming them into a husband and kids. But I knew just how Alejandro felt. From the day our eldest was born, I lost the ambitious spirit that once propelled me on artistic exploits around the globe. My world became our home, our future and every hair on our child's head.

"Well, what are those dreams for the kids?" I said. We came up with a list. Alejandro wanted to take Danny, our 4-year-old, to Uruguay in the spring, to improve his Spanish. I wanted to take a week off to be a stay-at-home mom with the boys this summer. We both wanted to spend this Thanksgiving in New York City, seeing friends and relatives and showing the boys their birthplace. We also talked about spending more time at the beach at home in Los Angeles and riding bikes more often with the kids.

Before my aunt's note, our penny-pinching, nose-to-the-grindstone habits might have meant we let those items linger on a wish list. But this time, we cashed in frequent-flier miles for Uruguay, filed vacation time for a week off and bought tickets to New York for Thanksgiving. I can easily say that week in August, taking the boys swimming at the YMCA and spending lazy afternoons in a frozen-yogurt parlor near our house, was one of the best vacations of my life. When we bought those tickets to New York, I felt glad for our years not indulging more exotic desires, because that's why we had the money to do what we'd discovered was really important to us.

Living your dreams, we've realized, is a state of mind. It's about knowing that where you are at any given moment is exactly where you want to be. Today, when we pedal around the neighborhood with the kids following like little goslings, or watch them spend hours digging hermit crabs out of the sand, I remind myself that all this is the greatest adventure of my life.

Read her entire essay here.

Today I ask widowers, GOWs and WOWs to take that advice to heart. Whether it’s the many curve balls that life throws at us or attitudes, feelings, and desires that change and mature with time, learn to adjust our dreams and wants accordingly. More importantly, learn to count the blessings you have today and happy with where you are right now. If you’re not where you want to be, figure out where you want to go and make the changes in your life to get there.

Life is short and you only get one shot to make it worthwhile. Don’t waste it pursuing dreams that won’t make your life worth living.