Saying good-bye to a dream

The Preacher, hosing down Cricket after the tumble in the muck.
The Preacher, hosing down Cricket after the tumble in the muck.

It rips you in half, sometimes, the agony and ecstasy of marriage, and it hurts. That’s what happens when God joins two people. You become one. So the big separations, the thorny differences in things like opinion and intent, practice and preference, well…working those out, even after decades, takes prayer, persistence and compromise.

I plunked myself on a chair directly in front of the Preacher. “We’ve reached an impasse, you and I, haven’t we?”

He nodded. “Seems that way.”

A few days earlier, in the canvas shed, I’d seen the capital L sign swinging from the licence of his motor scooter. The dream of his lifetime, purchased ten years ago, two summers before he contracted West Nile Neurological Disease. I called it Cricket, in the naming things habit I have, because it looked like one a bit, and when it started, sounded like one.

When he rode it, wind rushing over his body; bending, swaying, balancing, his burgandy helmet muffling traffic sound, his jacket open like a superhero’s, he fled ordinary time. He became Super Preacher. Funny how living out even a very small dream makes us all feel like superheroes for a time.

He blew about town for two summers before the mosquito bit. All during the six-month hospital stay, and months of therapy following, he kept the dream alive and Cricket in storage. For two glorious summers, he rode again. Then came cancer. But the summer following chemo he and Cricket took off once more.

But it’s hard to take a walker on a motorbike, even a 50cc scooter that barely qualifies for the title. And it’s hard to balance on a bike when even walking is a challenge. He hit a patch of mud riding out in the country a few years ago, and nearly couldn’t get back on. So when he didn’t licence Cricket for a few summers, I assumed the dream had softly, thankfully, died.

I should have know better. I realized that when I saw the L for “Learner”. He hadn’t mentioned he was aiming for the full licence provincial regulations now require. He knew I’d have a different opinion. Of course.

“I’m against this, Hon,” I said, “for lots of reasons.” I listed them. His list didn’t stretch like mine, but the dream eclipsed everything else. We held hands. We prayed for God’s will to be done. I prayed for what I most needed: understanding and compassion.

He took the road test. Failed the road test. And decided to re-try. “If I fail again, I’ll sell the bike,” he promised. A week later, his examiner read his test results and suggested he try a third time. “Nope,” he said. “I promised my wife if I failed a second time, I’d sell the bike.”

The Preacher has kept his word. Cricket wears a new sign now: “For Sale.” I’m grateful. But the part of me that is part of him weeps at the funeral of his dream, and prays for a new one.