Saturday, March 23, 2013

The night I didn't die

A few months ago, I dreamt I died…  It was an incredibly powerful dream, completely realistic, yet so similar to a movie plot, I should have realized it was a dream.  It was so powerful that it has taken me this long to even write about it, or even to really speak about it much as it brings tears to my eyes…  I still don’t feel comfortable describing all of it and everything that happened within, but I think it’s time I shared it, in hopes that my struggle might help someone else. (Or at the least get it off my chest!)

The dream was just like the plot of many movies, one of my favorites being “Always”…  I’m not sure how it even started, but I met a new friend named Mabel, and she tried for some time to convince me that I was really dead.  We went to my son’s school, where he was sitting in class drawing trucks and cars.  I watched as he drew, unaware of my presence.  Finally his teacher asked him what he was drawing and he told him with a smile, it was “Hotrods my Daddy made”.  The paper held several crayon pictures of cars done in his own abstract style with a short stick figure standing with them; it was me... 

As the dream progressed Mabel took me to visit many others, each was carrying on in their own life without me.  It was hard to see but still never really soaked in until I sat down on a bench to further dispute Mabel’s claims.  Taped to a street lamp next to the bench was a flyer for KC Cakefest.  It looked great and told of all the talented people who were a part of the event, of the great charity, fun events and finally at the very bottom in small black font, “in memory of Mike Elder”…   I honestly can say that at that point it was 100% real for me, it didn’t seem like a dream.  So much goes through your head when you think of that moment.  I don’t think about death much, as I prefer to focus on life and on today, but having her sit with me as we discussed life without me, changed me.

  The dream ended when I visited Carey, who had spent the day working on Cakefest with my oldest daughter Tabby.  She was sitting alone in bed watching “Top Gear”, one of my favorite shows.  She had her laptop out and glasses on as she worked on whatever need be done.    Occasionally she’d look up over her glasses as one of the Top Gear guys would say something ridiculous, smile, let out a gentle giggle and go back to work.    The unifying theme throughout, as I visited all of the people I loved was that they all smiled.  They all laughed and they all found at least a degree of peace and happiness, and having seen it first-hand I realized that is all I could ever hope for.  It’s all I ever wanted and if I were to go today, I could feel fulfilled knowing that they had a lifetime of happiness in store for them and knew how much I loved them. 

In the time that has passed since that night seldom has a moment passed that I haven’t had that dream at least on one of the small screens in my head …  I have lived a very interesting life filled with all sorts of trials and also great triumphs.  In the recent days I’ve come to realize that the dream served a greater purpose then just to strengthen my need to show my love to those around me, it also served as a message that I need to let go of the pain and the regret associated with so much of my life and past. 

I’m not a religious man, and I’m sure right now some are reading this and thinking that “God” had a part in this.  Maybe so, but whatever the reason I feel I’ve learned much from it and that’s why I share it today.  I can only speak for myself but it seems to me that so much of life is spent focused on things that don’t really matter.  I’ve done things and believed in things that if I had ever stopped to question why, I would never have done.  The thing I have become best (or worst) at is accepting the blame and guilt others seem so happy to heap upon me, as well as blaming myself for things I really shouldn’t.   This dream was a wake-up call, a coming to terms of sorts.  The message being that I needed to leave my old life behind, begin to shed the guilt and blame and even the vanity of my past and look towards a better tomorrow and happier days. 

So much time and effort has been expended in my life doing what I thought was the right thing.  Many times it wasn’t right at all and I knew it was so.  But because it’s often easier to go along with whatever comes along, I went with the flow, convinced I was doing the things that were best, even though deep down I knew better.  I believed at the time that I had no choice, that I had to make do with what came along and with a lifestyle I know now that I chose, not a life that had been forced upon me.  There is always a choice, and I chose badly in many cases.

 For many days I believed I dreamt about my death and a future for those I love void of my presence. I realize that it wasn’t about my physical death at all…  It was about a life I have come to expect, a future that holds great happiness and love, if only I have the strength to move on, let go of my past which includes not just past feelings, but also past relationships and even people and embrace the changes that must come with it.   The dream was about my life. about moving on.

I know that once again I have failed to produce a cake related blog, but some things are worth the side note if you will!  It’s a fact even that cake is one of those things I took way to seriously, and my participation in it became more a competition for me as a business.  I looked to each cake as a way to prove myself to the world and to prove my own personal value that had all my life been called into question.  I once wrote a blog about “Faking it til you make it” and it seems I was doing the very thing I was protesting, just in a different aspect of my life.  All of this seems so petty now, and my only wish is to use cake as a way to spend time with great friends, good people and the ones I love.  I know many people who seem to have this firmly in their grasp, yet far more, seem far more interested in their appearance, then their reality… Maybe my friend Mabel can do something about that? LOL.

So…  I always try to end on a humorous note, and this blog is a bit more challenging.  I really do intend to write about cake someday, I can’t say I’m horribly interested in a “how-to” blog about techniques or new products, but I am very interested in the people and the emotions that go along with it.  Just as that night and that simple dream helped me see life in a different light, I see my role in the cake community differently now too.   We’ve launched a new project to share the stories of triumph and good people around the nation and world.  I’m excited to share what we come up with and very happy to be focused even more so on such a positive movement. 

It’s getting late now, I sit here typing with a little boy asleep on my shoulder and two girls snoozing on the floor at my feet.  Sweet dreams.  I’m off to bed myself, to sleep, to dream.  Wishing you

Peace N Love



  1. Hi Mike, I am Joyce Marcellus and this blog is amazing! I can completely relate. I felt as u were in my mind expressing exactly what I am going tru andfeelingfeeling. I am super excited to hear about ur plan! Thank you!!!!

  2. Hi Mike. I'm Debra Lord, the speaker at the Clinton Women's Connection yesterday. I decided to check out your website and found this blog post very insightful. You are not only a talented cake engineer but a good writer. Dreams are important and I hope you'll continue to be driven by this one to let past things go and focus on the future. I loved reading this and will look forward to more. Blessing to you.

  3. hey Mike,
    i liked your page, i read the whole story"The night I didn't die" you posted here. Dreams are really a very important thing in life because i personally think that it gives us inspiration to think and go beyond the limits.

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