Finding the Joy and Gratitude in the Long Hard Journey

I can attribute many of my greatest successes to my wife, Diane. In dealing with the grief, panic attacks, and oppressive loneliness due to her passing in October, I’ve started to meditate again…on the advice of experts. Part of this nightly 10-minute meditation has centered around GRATITUDE.

Finding gratitude when you are in pain is unbelievably difficult. Finding gratitude when most of what you used to be grateful for left the world when your only true love passed away, is virtually impossible. So, I’ve had to be creative.

I am grateful that the love of my life, the girl of my dreams, the purpose for my existence, taught me how to live and love one step at a time.

Let me explain. Until I met Diane, most of my achievements and virtually all of my joy, were events that took fewer than 48 hours to accomplish.

That changed when I fell in love with Diane. She was in the middle of recovery from a major life trauma when I met her, and the road to be with her was long, slow, and painful. That was my first lesson in the rewarding nature of working hard, in slow steady steps, a little at a time, finding the love and joy in the process as well as at the end.

This understanding was applied throughout our nearly 20 years together, from the slow steps we took to be together, to the astounding yard and farm projects we accomplished together, to my furniture building, my mortise and tenon architecture, to my (to date) 14 novels, to the slow and painful walk through treatment and eventually home hospice of my beautiful girl. She taught that to me. With her patience, determination, passion, and gentleness, she taught me each day of our life together that the difficult steps forward, the ones slowed by seemingly overwhelming challenge and adversity, are the ones that yield the greatest joy, both in the journey and in the arrival at completion.

Of course, there was no joy at the end of our slow, step-by-step tackling of her journey to the end, but there was much joy mixed in with the heartache as we made that journey together. And of course, I fully believe she found her joy at the end of it and waits for me. That’s when I realized my journey, that slow process of picking one heavy foot up and placing it in front of the other, is not yet done. I have many more steps to take before I can rejoin her.

But I’m grateful to her for teaching me how to do that. Because, had it not been for that long and difficult lesson, I would be unable to continue now as I need to. Her pain is over and mine has multiplied, but thanks to her loving example and gentle encouragement I see that as just a continuation of the journey we began all those years ago. And today, just like then, and every day in between, I wake to love her more than the day before and being genuinely grateful she shaped me into the man I am.

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