Dreams for My Children
A few months before the worst is to come, Pausch still appears healthy. The kids do not know their father is sick, and yet he must find ways to make sure they know who he is and what he believes in despite their young ages. Though he knows he will miss all the major growing-up events of his children’s lives, his heart hurts more when he thinks of his children growing up without a father. While he grieves his own losses, he grieves more for theirs.
He wants all their memories of time spent with him to be sharp, clear, and unforgettable rather than fuzzy and forgettable. He wants his daughter Chloe to know he was the first man who ever fell in love with her. Jai is modest and will never tell her children about all the sacrifices she made, taking care of three young kids and a husband with terminal cancer. Pausch wants them to know how selfless their mother was in caring for all of them.
Pausch begins talking to people who lost their parents when they were very young; he wants to know what they held on to during the difficult times and what kinds of keepsakes they have found most meaningful. The most important thing, they tell him, is knowing how much both of their parents loved them. The more they know of that love, the more they continue feeling it. These children also want reasons to be proud of their parents; they yearn to know what made their parents special. They were happy to think that their parents died with happy memories of them, as well.
Pausch loves so many things about each of his children. Dylan is loving and empathetic, but he is also analytical and curious about the world around him. Logan makes life an adventure; he is energetic and gregarious. Chloe is “all girl,” and what Pausch feels for her is different from what he feels for his sons. Without trying, she has enchanted her father. He loves each of them differently but completely, and he wants them to know he will love them as long as they are alive.
Because he has spent so much time talking about childhood dreams, people have asked Pausch what dreams he has for his children, He has a specific answer. As a teacher, he sees many students following a path their parents want for them, and the result is often disastrous. He believes his job as a parent is to help them develop the tools for whatever their dreams are, so his dreams for them are precise: he wants each of them to find their own “path to fulfillment.”
Their lives will be their lives, and he does not want his expectations or hopes to interfere with what they will one day choose for themselves. Pausch wants them to pursue whatever dreams they have with passion and enthusiasm—and know he is with them, whatever path they choose.