Chasing A Dream: Looking Back to Look Forward

Dr. Bill Long, a lifesaver for Dana! and me

Dr. Bill Long, a lifesaver for Dana! and me, as we’re leaving the hospital after her last spine surgery

It’s 4 o’clock in the morning and I’m sitting at the computer writing, with only ONE WEEK left until the chase across the country is on! Sleep is coming only in short spurts these days, and my mind is whirling with all that’s happening.  You cannot imagine the number of “lists” I have (I AM a list kind of woman!).  There are lists for what we’ll need as we travel across the country, what we need to ship, what we need to take in the vehicles (like breakable irreplaceable items that couldn’t survive a shift in the cube), what Robert needs when he goes to China (though we took care of much of that today with the purchase of a new backpack, fanny pack, passport holder, etc.), what to do at the last minute (like having the utilities disconnected)… on and on.

CRYING? There’s No Crying In Dream Chasing! Or is there?

And I’m crying a lot.  It’s really notable that I’m doing what I WANT to do, what I’ve longed to do for many years.  I’m thrilled and elated to be crashing head-long into a future of huge possibilities.  I know that I can’t embrace a future without letting go of the past, but my big tender-heart finds it so hard to let go, and I’m way too sentimental, so I just find myself crying a lot.  They’re not unhappy tears, just overwhelmed ones.  The hardest part is moving away from my Dana…

For those of you who don’t know my daughter, you’ve missed out on something very special.  Dana came into the world a fighter and is truly one of the bravest people I know.  I’d been told I couldn’t have children because of some medical complications when I was 12.  So having her was a wonderful surprise.  When she was born with an open spine and tethered spinal cord, the predictions were very grim for her future.  I became an advocate, changing how physically challenged individuals were educated in Nashville (she was mainstreamed 9 years before federal mandates to mainstream disadvantaged individuals), how they were transported (and I thanked God for Ruth Newman, the lady at the school board who was the 45th person I talked with and the one who finally stepped up and arranged transportation for Dana), the deeming laws under Social Security as they applied to children, and so much more.  I met so many people who made a difference in our lives:  Dr. Bill Long, her pediatrician, who would drop everything and race to the hospital when Dana was in crisis (he did that for any of his kids, not just Dana); the already-mentioned Ruth Newman, who heard my pain and frustration (and had to laugh when I started naming the 44 other people I had talked with to get Dana bussed to a handicapped-accessible school when she was in casts); the principal of Walter Stokes School, Evalina Cheadle, who assured me that if Dana were paralyzed after her then-upcoming spine surgery, she would have ramps built and move classrooms around to accommodate us and Dana would NOT have to change schools and be away from her friends; her two neurosurgeons, Drs. Vaughn Allen and Harold Smith, both of whom were not only skilled surgeons but so very compassionate and comforting to both mother and daughter; Randy Smith, who worked at Camp Easter Seals and invited Dana to camp (which became her life-long passion).  These are just a few of the outstanding and wonderful people we met as we dealt with all the medical stuff.

Dr. Harold Smith, a skilled and compassionate surgeon, with Dana after her last spine surgery

Dr. Harold Smith, a skilled and compassionate surgeon, with Dana after her last spine surgery

I think each of these people saw something special in my daughter in part because, despite her many challenges, Dana was such a happy, laughing, loving kid.  Even as a little kid, she was a trickster and a joker and kept us all on our toes.  As an adult, she is the most compassionate person I’ve ever known.  In her entire life, I have never heard Dana make fun of or ridicule anyone (okay, other than her mother, especially during Dana’s teen years).  She’s talented and smart and …. okay, I’ll stop.  I realize that I am not unbiased.  But as I said earlier, the hardest part is moving away from my daughter, knowing I’ll be thousands of miles away from my most special treasure.

The mother in me wants to be close by to make sure she’s okay.  I know that’s not realistic, I know she’s a grown woman who can take care of herself.  I mean, for goodness sake, she’s moved away from me over and over again, living in several different states over the last 15 years, so I know she can fend for herself.  That knowledge doesn’t make it any easier.

I also know that chasing my dream is something I have to do, something for which my spirit longs.  So y’all look out for my Dana, would you?  Thanks!

DREAM BIG! I always do.





  1. Praying for all of your family. You will be fine. God is watching over you. Miss you! If you have time to do lunch this week (with the thousand other things) let me know. Much love to you.

  2. I bet it will not take long for Ms. Dana to find her way to California. 🙂

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