One of the many hats I wear is as a house sitter. I enjoy helping out friends and acquaintances, I get some furry companionship, and I get a little extra money to help with the bills. Plus, it's a change of scenery! While I like my cozy little apartment, I am a nomad at heart.
This week I am helping out my friend Charlotte, whose husband passed away in May. She's getting to spend time with her family in California, and I get to spend time with little Cody, her chihuahua child.
Gary and Charlotte were an amazing pair. Gary worked for Walt Disney (the man himself, not just the company!), and they traveled the world together, Charlotte always as Gary's right hand woman. They loved movies and books, and their little apartment is packed full of both! Movies of all genres (they have a whole bookshelf dedicated to Christmas movies!), books about the Bible, mysteries, devotions, and tributes to their love for adventure and the west.
As I was getting ready to go to sleep last night, I realized that I was in the mood to read... not a personal development book or Bible study, but a good old fashioned mystery, like I used to read all the time. On a stand in the living room I found a Mary Higgins Clark book, with the book marked about 2/3 of the way through. I started reading from the beginning, but I was careful not to move the bookmark from where it was.
Here's the thing - as I was ready to put the book down and go to sleep, it occurred to me that this was not a book that Charlotte would read. This was Gary's book. It was on the stand next to his chair, and was the type of book that he would love.
Gary left us in May. The book has remained on the stand, untouched, despite the dusting and cleaning and de-cluttering that Charlotte has been doing for the past couple of months as she adjusts to life without him. His slippers are still under the coffee table, even though Charlotte vacuums regularly. I still have the phone number in my phone listed as "Gary and Charlotte". It's like we all expect him to walk back in and resume his life where he left off.
Gary will never know "who-done-it". He'll never finish this book. His home projects won't be finished. Charlotte has to find ways and help in doing the tasks that Gary always handled, and go to bed every night without him in their bed.
Charlotte has amazed me with her resilience, with her faith, with her strength and her attitude. I am in awe of the way she handles the day to day events on her own, surrounding herself with friends and filling her hours with Bible study and volunteer work. But I know she would give all that she has to finish out her life with her beloved husband by her side to the end.
As I ponder these things, I realize that my life must be about more than my dreams and goals as they are written in a journal; I must live every day completing MEANINGFUL tasks that impact others in the best way. I CHOOSE to eat well, I CHOOSE to treat my body with respect, I CHOOSE to tell my friends and family DAILY that they are important to me. "I love you" is a phrase that I use frequently, but not carelessly tossed out - I do my best to make sure that the recipient understands that I mean it with all my heart.
Enjoy life. Enjoy the day-to-day occurrences, the tasks and the small steps that take you to larger outcomes, alongside the simple actions of taking out the trash and shopping for groceries.
And read a good mystery from time to time.