The past four months have brought a lot of change through loss. Often in the middle of change, we wonder what the point of life is. Or at least, ponder what our purpose is in life.
A couple of months ago, my husband was in a car accident. The car was a total loss and didn’t survive the crash, but both he and the other drivers did. I am not sure how he walked away unhurt, but I am immensely grateful he is still alive; a blessing in my life, for sure.
Way less tragic, but as annoying as the loss of the car, my Instagram account was stolen. I didn’t even know this could be a thing. Why my account was stolen with a few hundred posts and less than 200 hundred followers, I have no idea.
I just know that four years worth of pictures, thoughts, and life snapshots were stolen. And although I tried to get them back, it just wasn’t to be.
What was strange to me was how much I grieved the loss of my posts. I grieved the loss of these like a small part of my life was stolen. (I’m trying not to judge myself to harshly for that. It’s still a work in process though.)
One of these snapshots of my life was of my dogs last Labor Day weekend.
My kids and I sat on our dock last Labor Day as the sun set with our two dogs. One of them, Outlaw was in failing health. He wasn’t in pain, just was having more difficulty moving and lost some of his spark. We wondered if he would be back sitting on the dock with us this year. It was a sobering moment for sure, contemplating the loss of part of our family.
We never thought our other dog, Marley, would not be back at the lake with us this year. Marley, was healthy, until she wasn’t.
I am glad she didn’t suffer, but her unexpected death on mother’s day, left my family devastated. She was a sweet, loving part of our family, and she is missed every day.
The greatest loss of the past four months, which makes everything else seem trivial, was the death of my father-in-law. Although it wasn’t unexpected, the grief and loss seem insurmountable. His health just slowly left him. I would like to say it was a blessing he passed, but the selfish part of me wishes he was still here.
He lived an incredibly full life. He loved his family and friends with his whole heart. He loved fishing, hunting, golfing and being active. His life was full of everything which had meaning to him. A lesson to be learned for sure.
I could speak to his life and the impact he had on those most important to me, my husband and children, but I’m not sure there is a way to briefly post his importance in my life.
I will always have a whole in my heart where he once was.
These changes aren’t easy and I am still in mourning over the loss of what once was. It is hard to still want to hear my father-in-laws voice, my dog’s bark, my kids running around my house. I hear this is normal, but I’m still working my way through this.
What I am learning through each loss or near loss, is that life is too precious and short to waste on things which will not matter to me in a day, a week, a month or a year from now.
What I own is not as important to me as the life I get to live and the experiences and people that I surround myself with. The car and the Instagram account had a purpose, but they are not my purpose.
Books have been written about finding and living your purpose. I have read some of them and I will probably read a few more. I find them inspiring and uplifting, but I don’t know if I believe now that there is only one purpose in life.
I have come to believe that purpose is more of a fluid thing.
As you grow through the changes in life, what was once your purpose may no longer hold true. At one point in my life, being a good student was my main purpose, then it was having a meaningful career, then switched to raising my children. As my children grow into adults and no longer need a full-time parent, that is changing again.
I don’t believe there is anything wrong with my purpose changing. I believe a singular focus made me a better student, employee and parent. The problem comes if I am changing my focus without remaining true to myself and what I value most. Did I want to be a student, employee or parent? Or was I doing it because it was expected of me? For me, I know the answer to this is, I wanted each of these.
My purpose during this next phase in life will be different from before, but it will still involve my key values of love, family and service. I will continue using my life teaching what I have learned and spending time learning from people who know way more than I do.
It is possible that my fur baby, Marley, may have been one of life’s greatest teachers. She loved unconditionally, enjoyed each meal like it was her last and lived each moment until she had nothing more left in her to live.
It is the way she and my father-in-law lived, full-out, until their was nothing left in them to give.
Now that is life lived on purpose.
Previously posted on Medium https://medium.com/@cathughes6/living-with-purpose-910e04ef2110