I have been waiting for this book to come out since April 2008. Well, it wasn’t even being written then, but still. I hoped it would one day come.
Dream New Dreams is written by Jai Pausch, the widow of the famous Carnegie Mellon professor Randy Pausch, who became famous for the last lecture he gave while battling pancreatic cancer. It ultimately focused on how people should follow their childhood dreams and live life to the fullest.
I remember the first time I heard of Randy. It was three months after Logan was born, and I had just finished an exercise video at home in an effort to get rid of the baby fat that was clinging to my stomach. I finished doing the exercise DVD and when I stopped it, an interview with Randy Pausch was on TV. It was an hour special with Diane Sawyer. I remember so clearly being drawn into the story.
Nolan, meanwhile, was frustrated. He wanted me to get showered and go to bed with him, and said I always complained about being tired, but then would find reasons to stay up at night.
Stil, while he huffed and puffed as he passed back and forth, I sat Indian style on the rug, glued to the tv. By the end of the hour special, I was crying. I don’t cry often, especially not when watching interviews or tv, even rarely with movies. But after just having a baby, my heart ached for them. I was amazed at how honestly he spoke about living knowing he was going to die. I was also amazed with her, how she was stoically dealing with everything, knowing she was soon going to lose her husband and be left to raise their three kids alone. Their chemistry and connection was palpable, and seemed effortless throughout the interview. If you haven’t seen the series of interviews, watch them. Google Diane Sawyer and Randy Pausch. Warning: they may make you cry.
Two weeks later, in the middle of the night in the ER, we found out Nolan had cancer. And it wasn’t looking good. When was months later he was deemed terminal, I kept thinking about the Pausch’s. I followed their story and waited anxiously for the remaining interviews and specials Diane Sawyer did with Randy.
I felt sick the day I found out Randy had died. One night soon after, Nolan kept questioning what was bothering me. That night, we sat side-by-side holding hands with the laptop on the table and watched all of the interviews.
After Nolan died, I would occasionally Google Jai’s name to see if there were any updates. To see how she was handling widowhood and the grief and raising three kids alone. I never found much, until recently when flipping through a People magazine, I saw a review of her book. I immediately downloaded it onto my Kindle.
While I enjoyed reading it and admire her honesty on alot of fronts, I didn’t love it. But I can’t tell if it was because of the book itself, or the fact that I was simply looking for something different. Something more.
To me, the book seemed more catered to offering advice for caregivers and less of a memoir. Of course, she shared personal stories – ones I am sure were difficult to recall – like arguments with Randy, her feeling he did not always value her opinions in regards to his treatment, and the pain and struggle of balancing her time between caring for her spouse and small children. She wrote about the him buying a car despite her hesitation, the feeling of freedom in redecorating their bedroom for her after he died – not needing to worry about someone else’s opinions or preferences. Especially after everything has been about them for so long.
She took off the rose colored glasses that often shaded the interviews with Diane Sawyer, but, through majority of the book, the writing seemed distant, not personal. I felt as if she telling the story about someone else she was watching, instead of telling her own emotional tale. She recounted the events, but the pain of them often did not come through. She has mentioned in interviews that her journal was “toxic” – filled with raw emotions stemming from all she went through. But I never felt them reading her book.
I wanted to read about her crying and breaking down in the weeks following his death, like I did. I wanted her to recall the weird memories that rushed back at unexpected times. I wanted to read about her bad first attempts at dating. And not read that she fell in love, but instead about how she managed to open up her heart again.
Maybe my expectations were too high, (Jai is not by trade a writer) or maybe that is not a story she felt comfortable telling. Whatever the case, it was good, but not the book I had been hoping for.
Has anyone else read it? I am curious as to what you all think.