Sometimes I feel like my life has been a lot like Luke Skywalker trying to hit that target in the trenches of the Death Star. Most people would say the same about their own lives. You have a thing you want to do. You have a dream you want to achieve. It seems like a long shot, like maybe there's not a chance in Hades that you'll reach that goal, but you want it. You can see it in your mind.
And then somewhere along the way, the world beats it out of you.
This kind of happened to my dear hubby. When he was a child, he was certain about what he wanted. He wanted to be a pilot and then an astronaut. Sure, many boys wanted that when they were little, but he really wanted it. It was all he wanted.
So he asked his parents to let him join the Civil Air Patrol. It would have been perfect for him. The answer was no. They were a family that struggled financially a lot. But still. You can struggle and still want your child to succeed, right? He was the oldest, and he knew without a doubt what he wanted. What he got out of his childhood, in the end, was 17 different schools, many, many days of not knowing if there would be food, and many houses that had none of the basic amenities we all take for granted. No CAP for him.
They did take road trips, however, and he once got to visit the Kennedy Space Center. It was back when NASA still let the public have access to things like the Lunar Rover. We have a photo of hubby sitting in the Lunar Rover with an astronaut, asking a million questions. (It's packed away in a box somewhere or else I would have included it here...it was amazing). He had that dream firmly planted in his heart. He just knew it was what he wanted out of life. Still, he got no familial support.
He was often told he would never amount to anything. College wasn't something his parents encouraged him to do, nor did they ever imagine it for their kids. In fact, when I met him, he was not doing so well in school. He had sort of given up. If you tell a child over and over that he is worthless, he will believe you. He was walking 9 miles (each way, down a highway) to a McDonald's in the next town to work full-time, as was his brother, and giving over every paycheck to his mother (while in high school). He was sharing a small set of clothing with his brother. Their McDonald's uniforms were the best clothes they had.
His mother had a refrigerator full of good, healthy food for her Weight Watchers plan, and she threatened the kids with bodily harm if they so much as touched it. The kids were existing on beans and rice or soy sauce and rice or whatever they could get at McDonald's during their shift (or from their older brothers). I suppose free lunches at school were part of their nutrition, too, during the school year.
I took him on as my pet project. He was my best friend, and I often brought a pizza or some such take-out food over for him and his 3 siblings. I bought him clothes. I loved him. I emptied my savings account. I loved him. I still do.
But the damage was far-reaching. He had learned to cut off his feelings, to cut off his dreams. We began dating after I graduated high school. My dreams were stalled, too. I knew nothing about getting student loans for college, but I was living far from home and taking care of myself. I figured college was out of the question. We began to take care of each other. When I became pregnant, we felt we had to do something drastic, so he joined the Marines. He was a damned good Marine, too, but he was so used to being beaten down, so used to undermining his own success that he passed up some great opportunities for advancement and only stayed in for two short hitches.
I've watched him all these years, feeding his fascination with space science through books, films, documentaries, even used textbooks. He has an amazing understanding of things like string theory and quantum mechanics, but school is still a challenge. Now that I have gotten my bachelor's out of the way and am planning for my master's, he is attacking school, aiming for a degree in physics. It isn't easy to be in your mid-40s, doing calculus while you're on the road with work, putting in many hours as a network engineer, but it's do-able. If anyone can get there, it's him.
So now that I have my plans in place to start my grad degree in the spring, people are starting to come out of the woodwork with their opinions. I'm sure they mean well, but they know that I have had health challenges. They probably think they are doing me a favor by telling me that this might not be the best career for me (grief counseling, palliative counseling, and bereavement counseling), but I feel as though God led me to do this. I'm convinced that my suffering has a greater meaning.
And my ultimate inspiration? My husband, who has never quite given up his childhood dream (nor should he!). You see, I believe that when you feel led to do something, you absolutely should do it. You may be thinking he's too old to be an astronaut, but who knows, really? Who knows. If we stop to think too much about each aspect of what it is we want to do, we can talk ourselves out of it. We can finally kill that childhood dream.
The target isn't really as small as that opening on the Death Star...except in our own minds. Really, it's wide open.
Peace - D