When you call people over for some games and dinner, amidst the merriment and laughter, an elbow often knocks a vase down. As it hits the ground and dissipates into bits of china over the floor, your heart sinks, and while you understand it was a mistake, your face has other ideas. It betrays your empathy. Your despair is apparent—the wrinkles of anger are chiselled on your forehead, your smile turns smaller, clearly indicating you’re maintaining the decorum. Your voice takes a pitch—an urgency. From that point on, everyone becomes careful. A double-checking of elbows ensues. People knew how to respond to loss. It was instinctual to look at it and understand. This was true for broken vases and hearts alike.
But when someone loses a dream, something they never had, no one sees it break, and therefore, no one understands. It was a lone loss, limited to thoughts. It was a grieving no one could help you with or tiptoe around. It was hard to grieve. It was much harder to grieve for a life you will never have. The outward appearance remained as spotless as the living room cleaned right before the night of games and dinner. When you lost a dream, your thoughts did not change. You still imagined the same possibilities you spent days dreaming of, but now, the thoughts brought dread. The knowledge of how the things you imagined would never happen haunted you. The dream died, and you could only mourn. No one else understood the gravity of the situation, for there was no shattering to see.
But dreams were not mere vases; they were houses: rooms of reverie, of possibility, beds and duvets of comfort, yards of freshly-cut grass and laughter, a patio flowing with warm conversation, and a little garden of hope; a little escape when the going got tough. Then, the house was haunted by what could be, the silence of something that never was, the garden that was never planted. Left behind in time, you stayed by yourself. No one knew why or for how long you’d stick around. Eventually, you burned the house down. Like all grieving, this one charted its own course. Like all grieving, this ended, too.
Then, one day, you dreamt again.