The Land of Broken Dreams - July 2021
by Dawn Phelps, RN/LMSW
As my husband and I have traveled in recent years, we have wondered if we were seeing signs of broken dreams alongside the highways. An old service station with bashed windows and peeling paint. A building that says “The Old Country Store”—empty, abandoned, with a sagging roof.
A small beauty shop in a small town, in need of paint, with a “Closed” sign on the door. A falling-down farmhouse in a pasture over-grown with weeds, surrounded by rusty farm equipment. Or an old four-story brick hotel that still stands erect, but humbled by broken windows and faded paint.
I have thought, “Am I looking at someone’s broken dream? If so, what happened?” I wonder who owned the business. I wonder if the business failed or if the business thrived and the owner moved on to a bigger dream.
What happened to the inhabitants of the abandoned farmhouse? Did the couple raise a family there? Did the owner die? Was the farm abandoned because there was no one to carry on the farming operation? I will never know the answers.
To my knowledge there is no actual geographical place named “Land of Broken Dreams” even though many songs, books, and plays have been written about it. But we all know “where” I am talking about, and many of you, like I, have visited there.
After 44 years with my first husband, my dream to spend my retirement years with my husband at the place we lovingly named Thornberry Acres was gone when he died at the age of 63. Thornberry Acres is now the home of a young family that is living their dream in that old farmhouse that is once more filled with the laughter.
I had to move on, and I now have a good life, but not the
one I thought it would be. My dream, like the dreams of
many others, had to change, much like the family of a little
girl named Georgia Mae from North Carolina. Georgia Mae
developed a brain tumor and died at the age of six. Her
mother posted photos and stories of Georgia Mae’s battle
with cancer and now shares their grief journey.
Her mother recently posted, “Instead of being mad we lost you, we are so thankful we HAD you. I can’t imagine a life never knowing my sweet Georgia Mae. Because of you, we are better. Because of your fight, we are braver. You changed our lives forever.” Their dream of seeing Georgia Mae grow up has been replaced with a dream of seeing her in Heaven.
A little Missouri boy named Brian Arnold was six when his father accidently ran over him with a lawn mower, and Brian lost a leg. Brian’s mother encouraged Brian to learn to play the piano, and he became well known as a pianist.
Brian’s musical dream was dashed temporarily when he was in a wreck with semi at the age of twenty, resulting in a paralyzed left arm. Once again Brian had to readjust his dream. He fought back, worked hard, and became renowned for playing the piano with only his right hand. He went from being a victim to having a new purpose.
He married, and he and his wife had two children and nine grandchildren. He opened shows for many well-known artists in Branson, Missouri, for many years. Brian does not see himself as hopeless, but as a person with a new identity. He is a musician and motivational speaker who believes there is always hope. I have his beautiful CD entitled, “The Touch of One Hand.”
When bad things happen, we sometimes travel to that imaginary Land of Broken Dreams. It is important to not live there, but to pick ourselves up and search for a way through our grief to hope and healing.
If you have experienced a loss, your life may be very unfamiliar. Even though we may feel broken, life can still have purpose. There is a place where broken hearts can heal in the Land of Hope. So look for your new dream. You can still write a new ending to your story.
“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream”
- C.S. Lewis
Call about the next "Living Life after Loss" Group at:
709 Liberty, Clay Center, Kansas
Dawn Phelps, RN/LMSW, Group Facilitator