Ten years ago today my late wife, Krista, took her own life. It’s a day that I haven’t publically acknowledged in years because life goes on and I enjoy my new life too much to be bogged down in sad memories and anniversaries. But the 10 year mark holds some significance for me because in the midst of my sorrow and misery I promised myself I would rebuild my life and be happy again. And I gave myself 10 years to do it.
In the months that followed Krista’s death I had no idea where life would take me. The emotional toll of her suicide left me floating from one day to the next. I found it hard to get up in the morning, focus on work, hang around with friends and family, or participate in activities that I previously enjoyed. My zest for living was vanquished. I didn’t want to live my life this way but I was unable to focus enough to think about what I wanted to do more than a day or two in the future.
Then one morning my alarm clock went on the fritz. As a result I missed my morning run and was late to work. It seemed like the beginning of another day where my life was spinning out of control. I hurried to work that morning wishing I had stayed in bed. On the way home from work, I bought a new alarm clock. And it was this new alarm clock that helped me put the future into focus.
Before I went to bed that night, I set the clock’s time and the alarm. This alarm clock also happened to have a date feature. I set the day and the month but stopped when I got to the year. Instead of setting it for the current year, I pushed a button and watched the years scroll by. As I watched the years pass by I started thinking what I wanted my life to be like one, five, and ten years down the road. I didn’t come up with a concrete direction that night but at least I was thinking about it.
Every night for several weeks I looked on the years of the clock. Eventually I had a fairly clear idea what I wanted my life to look like 10 years in the future. I won’t list everything I wanted to accomplish during that time with but the top three things on my list were:
- Forgive Krista
- Remarry and start a family
- Become a published author
I had no idea how long it would take any of those three things to happen but I figured if they could all happen within10 years, I would have successfully rebuilt my life. That night I vowed to live my life in such a way that I could accomplish everything on my list within a decade.
Fast forward to today. I’m not only living the life that seemed like an impossible dream 10 years ago, it’s far exceeded any expectations. It only took a year to forgive Krista. I haven’t had any anger or animosity towards here since then. Three months after that I married Marathon Girl. This year we celebrated eight wonderful years together and have five(!) amazing kids. My first book was published six years after Krista died. I’ve had two more published since then and have many more on the way. All the other goals on my list have also been accomplished usually sooner than I originally thought possible.
Ten years ago if someone would have told that this is what my life would look like today, I wouldn’t have believed them. Back then I didn’t think it was possible to rebuild a life and become happy again so quickly. I never would have thought that wounds of loss could heal so soon. But they did. And it all happened because I figured out what I wanted to do with my life then worked my butt off make a dream become a reality. As a result, I’ve never been happier or more satisfied with my life. I wake up excited to take on the challenges that come with every new day. I can say without reservation that I love my life.
So if you find yourself in a place where you’re not happy with your life, take a long hard look about where you want it to be one, five, or even 10 years down the road. Then examine your life as it is and see if there are people, habits, or other things in your life that are stopping you from living the life you want to live. Don’t let the actions of others determine your happiness or where your life ends up. If there issues that need to be addressed, figure out what steps you need to take to solve those problems. It doesn’t matter if you’re a widow, widower, someone who’s dating a widow or widower, or someone who’s going through other hard times. Get off your butt, throw off the shackles that are hold you back and start making changes today.
My journey to reach this point in my life wasn’t smooth—I experienced plenty of bumps and setback along the way—but the rewards were well worth it. Life is too short to be sad and miserable. The future is a blank slate. Do what you need to do so that a decade from now you can look back and triumphantly declare that you’re living a life that seemed like an impossible dream today.