Lost Dreams…what happens to them…

By Diana Elarde

It was close to dawn when I came across him. Quiet, dedicated he swept the floor, not looking up. He definitely was not acknowledging me as I approached. It was hard not to be curious, after all how often do you see swept dust turning before your eyes into well, fairy dust. I didn’t know how else to describe what I have never seen before. It challenged normal perspectives and took on the surreal.

I hesitated to talk to him, not wanting to disturb his work, more likely not wanting the magic to stop. My mind conflicted with my emotions. Wanting to be logically but wanting to dance in delight. Neither seemed the way to go.

I would have like to back away, watch from afar and despite that thought, my feet brought me closer. What command had I given my feet that allowed them to do this? Why with each breath did closer become the reality?

“Leave the logic,” he quietly said to me, without looking up.

Leave the logic? I thought. I am not about to do that.

“You can’t be logically in a dream,” he tells me.

Ah, a dream, I acknowledge to myself. No wonder my body won’t obey. That’s the reason the dust is fairy in nature. So if it is a dream I can change it. Or I can play in it. After all there is nothing here that would hurt me.

“Stay out of the pile,” he tells me firmly, eye finally up to catch mine.

“But it looks like it is to play with,” I protest wanting to run through it like I use to with fall leaves.

“Looks can be deceiving,” he adds and turns his back on me while he continues his sweeping.

He wants them for himself I say to myself. So greedy doesn’t want to share even the delight of the fairy dust.

“Not so fast,” I tell him in my executive, command voice. That voice which needs to be listened to, no matter what. “There is no reason I can’t enjoy the dust cloud and colors. Especially the sparkles that you seem so determined to sweep away.”

I move around to his side, determined to wedge myself in his awareness.

“Not fairy dust,” he mumbles. “You can’t tell the difference can you?” He turns again blocking my movement around him.

This is a dream! I tell myself. I command my body to take over my dream, to operate how I want it to. Move to his other side I command, take charge of this situation.

Is that laughter I hear from him, faint as it seems? He is laughing at me and my efforts!

I will not be disparaged I think. This is a dream! My dream!

But he is crafty and I need to think about my next approach. And as I do great piles of dust continue to gather in his sweeping effort. I love the blues, the shades of green that are so light they are translucence. They call to me over riding his presence and his determination to stop me.

Now! I tell my dream held body, move it now. I make a leap, a dream like leap trying to land my body in the middle of the collected flow. He is faster and turns it away making a growling noise as he turned to discourage again my futile attempt.

“This is my dream!” I demand of him. Stomping my foot making my point.

“Lost dreams!” he says to me, stopping me from my move forward.

“My lost dreams?” I question. “Do you have the right to them if they were mine?”

His shoulder shrug, “Does it matter he says?”

“Well if they are my dreams, then I should I have a right to them.”

“LOST DREAMS!” he yells back. “Get it?” he demands, taking his index finger and taping the side of his head in a gesture to make me connect.

“Ok, lost dreams,” I say, moving my arms out wide and then dropping them to my side. “I get it! Now are they mine or not!”

He smiles at me and shakes his head. “Doesn’t matter,” he says. “They are lost, never to be. Once past upon they need to leave. You needed to make them leave so you hire me to do it.”

“What?” I question back. “I don’t remember you…hiring you…?”

“Of course not,” he replies, while on with his work. “No one ever does.”

DElarde, copyright 2014


It is early morning, boasting a bright, clear sky typical of a Colorado summer. The sun is already hot and will only get more so as the day progresses. I am leaving for a walk, later in the morning heat than I like, but determined to have the “me” time I need. A glance at the weeds in my garden calls me to a stop, trying to command me to take care of what has been lingering on my “someday” job list. I plug my earphones in, searching for a motivating song on my player, and force myself to keep to the walk.

Around the corner I see Brie’s mother. Brie is my daughter’s closest friend. Since they were four they have weaved in and out of each other’s lives, catching up at key moments and then each going off to their own adventures. Brie’s mom stands at the edge of her driveway, hose in hand, watering the flowers that grow throughout the yard. We don’t know each other well. I am sure she probably calls me Amanda’s mother—and I will tell Amanda later I spoke to Brie’s mother—our daughters’ friendships tying our worlds together.

Her house has a beautiful yard. Circles of flowers and colorful plants meander their way from the house, along the lawn, down to the street. It’s a huge contrast to how the house looked for many years. There was hardly a flower or bush in sight back when the girls were small. It blended in, no different from the neighbors’ or any of the hundred houses existing in our neighborhood. Today it flourishes, it stands out, immersed in life, color and beauty.

Despite my need to keep walking before the heat defeats me, I stop to speak to her. She smiles at me and immediately asks for an Amanda report. I go through my details—college almost over, her wanting to move to Seattle. Yes it is hard to believe, where did the time go? Then, her information on Brie. She’s in Guam today, but who knows for how long or when she will leave. Brie has planned no trips home, she tells me with sadness in her voice. I know a year from now that will probably be my story as well—Amanda gone, off on her own venture. I feel a mother’s pain; soon I will know it.

We gaze across her garden, trying to move the discomfort away from our conversation. I comment that her flowers are lovely and what a green thumb she has. She doesn’t look up; she keeps her eyes on some flower or plant that she is connected to.

“It happened one day,” she explains quietly. “One day after Brie left I couldn’t take the pain, the emptiness. I came out and started to dig. One thing led to another and well, this is what was created. Brie was in the Greek Islands then, far from home, from me. I missed her horribly,” she explained, finally looking in my eyes, “and so I created the Greek Islands here around the house.”

She walked a few steps away from me and started pointing out the islands of flowers, each by their Greek name.

“Here is the island of Corfu. It has the red poppies on it. Over here is Ithaca, where Brie spent several weeks. I planted Campanulas there.” As she spoke I could see their outline, and indeed it was true. Tiny Greek islands dwell on her front lawn.

“Mikonos is my favorite. There are three types of roses here. I didn’t know a flower from a shrub,“ she went on. “I read on the Internet for hours about the flowers of Greece and what they needed. Some required shade, others the sun. It took days getting them arranged just so, making sure they were placed correctly. It filled my time, my empty hours. I just felt closer to Brie during the time I spent here digging, re-creating the islands she was living on.”

So, I thought, is this what we women do? Our lives far from our children, do we find something new to nurture, something more to give life to? Will I go off on a mad venture some early morning looking for a new endeavor that will need my love, my attention? And does that help? Does it fill the empty void caused by their leaving? When you get to the other side of the empty nest, what does life look like?

The first time I saw Brie she was standing on my front porch asking for Amanda. She was so small, all eyes and wild brown hair. A wispy, airy child, fearlessly walking to our house in hope of finding her friend. I never knew how they met or where, but through the years she wandered in and out of our house, and Amanda in hers. Their days were spent, laughing, carrying on, tea parties in Amanda’s room, games in the yard, hanging upside down on the swing set. And then, as quickly as she drifted in, she was gone. For years she remained away, their friendship dormant. One day she reappeared, standing at our front door, a beautiful young woman, asking for Amanda, her friend. The constant activity resumed. Brie in our house, Amanda in hers, until the day Brie flew off again for college in Hawaii and summers on islands even further away. She stays at that age in my mind. My only connection now comes from Amanda, through phone calls they make halfway around the world to keep in touch.

It is now a mother’s time to feel the emotions, the pain of being left behind and to struggle to understand successful child rearing means they leave; they create their own lives. And despite all the emotions we have, the clock will never turn back for me, for Brie’s mom, or for our daughters.
I realize we are lost in thought, deep in feelings. There is a quiet between Brie’s mother and me; two special spirits are with us, little spirits we both love. Returning to the present, we smile at each other, our shoulders shrug, a knowing look saying I understand, I feel it too. Together we stand for a moment longer, side by side as Amanda’s mom, Brie’s mom, soaking up the warm sun, lost in our memories and in the beauty she has created.

Update: Oct 2013 Brie is now engaged and we wish her a lifetime of happiness.



The morning moves along quickly. One task to another, mentally crossing off items until the last task stands on its own:  the airport.

The drive there seems quiet even though cars in their morning rush whiz by us on the way to their day’s destination.  It has been several years since I have had to be in the rush of Denver traffic and I have almost forgotten how quickly the cars move, weaving in and out of lanes to position themselves ahead of other drivers.

He’s quiet next to me, also mentally crossing off his own list. I know there will be “clean up” items to handle as soon as he leaves. Similar to when his sister left, the reality of what didn’t get done will set in and favors will be asked of me. I don’t mind, in fact to some degree I like that he still needs me to do for him. Although there is that message in the back of my mind, fearing I will enable him to leave a wake of unfinished tasks behind him for the rest of his life. I smile at the thought and quickly dismiss it, knowing as he continues to mature and live on his own his management will get better.

I am excited and sad in the same moment. I know his trip to Germany will be different than my hitchhiking tour of Europe, but it will be a great adventure for him. I silently pray his trip will be one of success for him. Even though success may mean his two month trip may turn into years away. He has worked hard for his dream, staying focused and working every extra hour he could for the money he would need.  It seems like all his labor should be rewarded, but as we know, sometimes our rewards come in packages we don’t at first recognize.

The airport now is visible on the plains east of Denver, its mock peaks imitating those majestically rising to the west.  The parking lot is a mess with construction detours and signs pointing where to go. We end up parking far from the terminal and have to haul all of his items across the parking lot through the maze designed to keep pedestrians safe. A careless driver interrupts our walk, backing up way too quickly, almost hitting two small children walking in front of us. Their mother, several feet away, had stopped to help another child. My son and I scream in unison “STOP”. The confused driver slams on the brakes and turns her head in our direction, cell phone attached to her ear. The mother quickly hustles up to the children, herding them away from the car and the danger. She turns to us mouthing thank you before moving them into the safety of the terminal.  And so it is, a moment in time for everything.

My son finishes his check in and we walk towards Security. I feel the grief rise from my heart, stinging my eyes with tears ready to flow.  Not now I tell myself. Later there will be more than enough time.  We stand for several moments at the entrance of the security line exchanges goodbyes.  I remind him to take care, stay out of trouble, be good.  Cliché parting words.  My send-off to Europe had a parade of friends and family at the gate, the worries of security still in the  distant future. We all hugged and cried, acting like it would be the last time we would see each other.  Still with communication back then, my family would not hear from me again for nearly two months. And even then it took a series of operators and over eight hours to get a call placed. 

I know tomorrow I can pick up the phone and hear his voice. I can do Face Time or SKYPE and within minutes his image will flash in front of my face allowing me to assess is he healthy, happy.  But his presence, his energy will not be in my life. He will not be near to see, to hug and my selfish side grieves for this.

We finish our good byes and he follows the flow through the security line, keeping visuals on me as he moves. Placing his items on the security belt, he points to the second floor location which overlooks Security, silently suggesting I move up there. I hurry to the escalator and climb each step as it progresses until I reach the bridge which crosses the terminal.  Once there, I move to the side which overlooks the Security area and wait. He is out of my sight at first, blocked by a piece of equipment.  Then he appears, smiling and excited he shouts up to me, “I love you, Mom!”  He steps onto the escalator leading to the gates, it takes him down, out of my sight.

“I love you too,” comes from me in a hoarse whisper. Always have, always will.