The Art of Learning to Live in Contentment: A Reflection of the Last Two Years

In trying to find the words for how I feel, I am drawn to the word “content.” For the first time in two years, I feel satisfied with who I am and what I have; and I don’t want anything more or less. I have never felt this way before. I have been blessed recently with joy, and maybe I will take a little more of that.

Today marks the two-year anniversary of my beautiful wife’s death. Reflecting over the last two years, I remember all the trials and pains of her being gone. I think about the really dark moments. I briefly smile about the small burst of happiness that came out of nowhere at times. Thinking about the past good times we had, like funny moments, or the pure bliss we sometimes felt with each other will never get old! I reminisce over the really sad conversations I have had (and still have) with her in my dreams; they seem all too real. I experienced sudden moments of terror when a rogue thought reminded me that I will never see her again. It often paralyzed me. My heart often beat with the reminder that she is gone, never to be seen by my eyes on this earth again. That often made me want to disappear into oblivion. I nested sometimes on the fact that I have joined a group of other widow(ers) who hold a love connection with someone who isn’t here anymore. It feels like a really long-distance relationship! I know she awaits me, and that connection of anticipation, while trying to live out the rest of my life, confuses me.

However these things were, are and will always be true, that’s not what I want to write about. I want to write today about being content. I want to look back in a year, two years, five years and see, right now, as the day it all changed. Not wanting any more than what I have right now is a welcome newcomer to my personality; my character. Lindy helped put this into my life, and by default, she put joy back into my life. For about the past two weeks, I have been continuously happy, full of joy. I just realized this a few days ago. You see, Lindy introduced something into my life that I’ve never had. I just now realized that I never appreciated it before. I now embrace what she tried to show me all the years before her death. Lindy was the most practical person I’ve ever met. I am not. She derived her joy and contentment from every-day practical tasks – tasks that make life easier and with more joy as a result of putting them into practice.

She was extremely organized. It was innate in her. It wasn’t in me! So I never got her obsession with it. Never really paid attention to being organized in my own life, even after marrying her. The only time I paid attention to it was to poke fun at her and her coveted label maker! Now, I am extremely organized, and it just happened one day without me realizing it. I woke up one day and my closet, her former closet, was as organized as hers ever was. Shoes are neatly put up in the order they should be. Dirty clothes basket sits next to the dry cleaning hamper. Belts are on the hanging hook she bought me. Clothes are put in classifications and organized by color. Socks are also neatly put up by color and style! Everything has its place, and I take great pride in keeping it that way. She has finally gotten through to me!

Another one of Lindy Lou’s strengths was her financial savvy and her system of how all things got paid and investments were made. She was very prudent and wise in her (and our) financial outlook. Always planning for the future and putting away for rainy days. I never embraced her ideology. I was a live-for-the-minute financial planner. Worry later! (This drove her bonkers)! The bills were also paid by a bill pay system. I never did this! I do now. I am also getting back to work and have a very strict plan to budget my future, my adventures, and my retirement. These were all things of no concern to me during my 40 years! I feel like I have grown up! (She was always the grown-up for me.)

She kept an impeccably, clean, meticulous home. Her motto to me, when I wouldn’t put things back where they belonged, was, “Listen hubby! Everything has its place. Make sure whatever you pick up gets back there”. I learned this lesson one time the hard way. I used to pick up the long lighter that was on the counter-catch-all organizer to light the grill, and never put it back. The power went out during a storm one night while I was still at work. She couldn’t find the lighter. And guess what? It wasn’t where it was supposed to be! She stubbed her big toe looking around the house for it! Yep. I never heard the end of that one! She would be proud of how decently I have maintained our home. I hope to channel her gardening brilliance in the spring too! Now, I go out of my way to put things up in “THEIR RIGHT PLACES”. I find it really makes life simpler when I can find things!

She was assertive; black and white in her opinions. I’m passive; a get-along kinda guy; wishy-washy. I am now more like her, and it wasn’t intentional. Something has happened to me that zapped my argumentativeness and need to be right. I just don’t put any stock in it anymore. I have also taken on her “let your yes be yes and your no be no” character trait. Life is too short to do things that don’t align with your goals, priorities or standards. She used to softly drill this into me. I get it now. Anxiety has slowly left the building!

She was a live-in-the moment, very content girl. She used to snap her figures at me at dinner and say, “where are you, because you’re not here! I’m here, right now. Engage with me or take a hike!” She would be happy to know that now I fixate on every word of the person I am talking with like they are the only person that exists.

This is probably the biggest change for me. I hated buying gifts. I never knew what to get someone. Plus, I just hated shopping. She was a methodical, incredible gift-giver. I have found her secret. Hint. It involves the prior comment. It’s amazing what you can learn about someone if you just listen! She used to also go out of her way to make people’s day with a random, not-for-any-reason card, note, or gift.

I could go on with a laundry list of things she has taught me. It took me coming out of my deep, dark moments to see these things. Some may call this commonsense stuff, but for me it was not. I was too busy being selfish, self-centered and flying-by-the-seat of my pants kind of guy. I now look to be content and find the joy in the little things, the way she did. She has finally taught me that routine is good, and that contentment is even better. Lindy arranged my fragmented sentence into a proper one.

I still shed tears at least once a day over her. Most of those tears are the joy of having been married to her, and for the things that she taught me that have made me a more well-rounded person. (She used to tease me that she was going to make me the perfect husband to my next wife)! All kidding aside, I realize there’s no such thing as love without suffering. I also know that grief is the last true act of love. I’ve come to realize that I’m going to have moments of sadness, and I’m going to shed tears often over her, and us, for the rest of my life. I pray she can see me grieve her. Not because I want her to know how sad I am. I want her to know how much she was loved in this life (and in death) by me. I pray that only adds to her joy she is already experiencing where she is.

Jeremiah 31:13 ….I will turn your mourning into gladness; I will give comfort and joy instead of sadness.

Lindy you are missed, appreciated and loved more today than yesterday by me.

Till then, the journey continues….

Balance Restored

Balance Restored