Gift of Dreams
The Christmas village looks shabby. I repair the cardboard houses, sprinkle glitter on the
trees, and replace batteries in the train. I rearrange ice-skaters on the pond. Couples stroll across a rock
bridge, miniature street lamps light snow-covered paths, and tiny cars park at a church.
I hear a noise. “Nathan? Come help me with the Christmas Village.”
“I’m on my way to see Jessie.”
I stare at the sparkling roofs long after he has gone until they blur into shining blue eyes and a naughty
smile—of our friends, Lou and Darrence.
Darrence was special. Naughtiness radiated from him; both children and animals adored
him. Our families were inseparable—camping out together, sharing cookouts and birthdays.
Darrence entertained the little ones with his Christmas village, a decade’s collection.
“I’m mayor of this city,” he quipped, patiently retrieving tiny cars from
little fingers. “Next year,” he promised, “we’re building a baseball diamond.”
Besides collecting, Darrence had three overriding passions—baseball, fishing, and
dreaming. In his early 30’s, he had plenty of time for dreaming. Life was an adventure .
Then Darrence collapsed at work. He had a “watermelon tummy”, but had lost weight. “I
can’t believe Doc is fussing about my losing weight!” he exclaimed. His laughter echoed down the
hospital corridor. “A lot of fuss about nothing,” he complained. Only it wasn’t.
An unwelcome word entered our lives—“leukemia”, treatable with chemotherapy. We cried but
Darrence joked. “At least I won’t have to worry about losing my teeth, since I’m already losing my hair!”
After his spleen was removed—the “watermelon”–, Darrence seemed the same, and
unafraid. “God is in charge,” he said. “His plans are better than mine.” Darrence
returned to work, and we once more believed we had “forever”.
That summer I became pregnant. “We’ll have us a BOY!” Darrence crowed. Soon we
were hanging clown wallpaper and planning for our “boy”. “God owes us a boy,” Darrence teased. “I’m
investing in that promise.”
His investment was a dedicated contribution. When I was sick, Darrence brought appetizing tidbits.
“Come on,” he’d coax. “Don’t throw up! Think of that big, strong, baseball player we’re creating!” When
I felt fat and ugly, it was Darrence who raved, “Pregnant women are gorgeous.” With his excitement, we
ignored his increasing frailty.
Shortly before Nathan’s birth, Darrence’s leukemia became “acute”. His spirit never wavered , in spite
of chemotherapy. I needed “bed rest”, so Darrence kept me company many afternoons, when he dreamed
about “our” boy. “You can have him until he’s a year old, and then I’m buying him a baseball and a
fishing rod.” He spoke of praying for healing. “Isn’t that kinda hypocritical?” he’d ask. “If you pray for
God’s Will,. why tell Him what to do?” Mostly, he spoke of dreams—
dreams our boy would chase someday –that Darrence wouldn’t share..
“You do a good job,” he said, “cause I’ll be coaching his baseball team someday.”
Darrence died when Nathan was two months old. That Christmas, Lou gave the village to Nathan. As
he grew, Nathan played with the village, adding his own items to it each Christmas season. He
nurtured it for awhile, but now it was my responsibility–a habit more than a joy.
After all these years, I see Darrence in every item I touch. Things I want to tell Nathan can’t pass the
lump in my throat. Even as I try, I realize he has no experience necessary for understanding.
He can’t know the man who loved him before he was born. He can’t understand the
hopes and dreams of a golden foursome that thought they shared “forever”.
“Pretty good.” I jump. Nathan looks over my shoulder. “You still here? Your friend Darrence gave
this to me,” he says, clicking on the street lights and moving a micro car a space. “I’ll add an airport
someday. Anything to eat?”
After he leaves, I hear laughter and a teasing voice. “Lonna,” he chides, “he’s chasing his own
dreams, as he should. I’m proud of him–wouldn’t change a thing. God has a plan. You must have faith
in it. Our golden days– loving life and chasing dreams—were a gift. But the best gifts are those we leave
behind…our girls and our boy.”
3 different magazines, starting with Today’s Christian Woman.