Seeing so many young people graduating brings back great memories.

“What are your plans for the future?”

I remember people asking this very question when I myself graduated from high school. I remember the big dreams and feeling of optimism; the feeling that anything is possible. After all, why can’t I be a rock star or astronaut? Maybe even the first rock star / astronaut. Then along came reality and shit on my dreams.

I often wonder as I stroll the city streets, “What was his dream?” I don’t recall many kids dreaming of being bankers or window washers. And I certainly don’t recall anyone dreaming of being homeless. When did the dream die? Dreams are like a fire. They require kindling.

Cade will be nineteen years old next month. What is his dream? I would give anything to find out. It’s been almost a year since we sang happy birthday and watched him blow out his candles. We had those annoying reigniting candles. Although some flames ceased, some came back stronger. Some flames weakened and some flames replaced others.

Granted I may not know Cade’s plans for the future; I do know the wishes my heart makes. It’s funny how these desires change over time. While I once dreamed that Cade would be the rock star / astronaut I never became, I now hold tightly to the hope that he will never be homeless. We’re all similar creatures. Our prayers and wishes change according to our level of desperation.

“Dear God, please let me get this promotion so I can buy that beautiful new house by the lake.”

“Dear God, please help me keep the lights on and keep food on the table.”

“Dear God, I’ve been constipated for weeks. Please let me have just one good bowel movement.”

My advice to the graduating class of 2016…Keep the dream alive. When your 6′ x 8′ cubicle becomes your 6′ x 8′ prison cell, keep the dream alive. When your recent pay cut contributes to your CEO’s recent pay raise, keep the dream alive. And when you feel like giving up on the limitless possibilities you see today, keep the dream alive. Do what must be done to pay the rent, but by all means dream on.

Although I haven’t achieved my dreams, I remain a dreamer. It’s what keeps me going. Imagine going through life without a dream or any way to share your dream.

“What’s your dream?” My feet tapped on the foot board of Cade’s bunk bed.

“Daddy,” he paused a moment. “Shrek!”

“That’s right buddy.” In my best Donkey voice, I went on, “Shrek and Donkey on another whirlwind adventure.”

“Daddy,” Cade asked. “Who’s Shrek like?”

“Shrek’s like you buddy.”

“Daddy.” again he asked. “Who’s Donkey like?”

“Donkey’s like me.”

“Yeah. Donkey’s like Daddy.”

With my head nestled  in Cade’s Superman pillow, my feet continued tapping at the foot board. “What’s your dream buddy?”

The epic battle of action figures endured as I lay in bed waiting his reply. Still sitting on the floor, Cade inched back exposing ample butt crack. I watched as he lifted the joker from the crowd. “Do you know how I got these scars?”

“No,” he replied in a bad ass Batman voice. “But I know how you got these.” Within moments, the wrath of Batman sent the Joker flying across the room. Yet another hole in the sheetrock.

“Cade,” I attempted once more. “What’s your dream? What do you want to be when you grow up?”

“What do you want to be?” Speaking of himself in the third person, Cade jumped up in excitement. “You want to be Batman!”

That’s a rather lofty goal but let’s see what we can do. “Hey,” I suggested. “Maybe I can be Alfred. That way I can provide the tools you need to be Batman.”

“Yeah!” He stood proudly with his hands on his hips. “Cade will be Batman for Halloween and Daddy will be Alfred.” Content with his costume choice, he rejoined the madness on the walnut floor. “Riddle me this…riddle me that”

“Cade,” determined to get an answer I repeated my question. “What do you want to be when you grow up?”


“Yes buddy?”

“Who’s Dora like from Dora the Explorer?”

“Ms. Leidy,” I replied.


“Yes buddy?”

“Who’s Diego like from Go, Diego, Go!?”

Knowing the answer Cade seeked I responded, “Mr. Carlos.”

My heart aches for the day that Cade can share his dreams with me. Many nights I gaze from the bedroom window, hoping to spot a shooting star. Lying still I pray. I wonder if the man upstairs can hear me. I wonder if He will grant me peace in knowing that Cade will be all right; that my buddy will always have someone looking out for him. Slowly my eyes close and I wish.

“What’s your dream?”

Kelly Jude Melerine


  • Shrek, Directed by: Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson, Produced by: Jeffrey Katzenberg, Screenplay by: Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Joe Stillman and Roger S. H. Schulman, Distributed by: DreamWorks Pictures, 2001.
  • The Dark Knight, Directed by: Christopher Nolan, Produced by: Emma Thomas, Charles Roven and Christopher Nolan, Screenplay by: Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan, Distributed by: Warner Brothers Pictures, 2008.