What am I going to do for the rest of my life?

by — Oct. 14, 2001 (Comments)

I have always asked myself that question throughout my life. It was a big question and one I felt I had choices. It was a way that I was able to bring about the choices I had to make in my life to get to where I needed to go.

I asked what am I going to do for the rest of my life when I was married and backed into a corner I didn’t want to be in.

I asked myself what am I going to do for the rest of my life when I was with someone I choose but after 11 years realized I didn’t want to be with them the way they were.

I always asked myself what am I going to do for the rest of my life almost every day of my life until . . .

  • My ex-husband died at 60,
  • Until the terrorists hit the United States,
  • Until I lost ½ my retirement funds.

My retirement isn’t much anyway, a 10-year clerical job doesn’t pay much, but it’s all I have for my retirement. My retirement is less than 10 years away. I am one there is no one else to help or to be with me. I have worried about this off and on from the time I was in my 20s, and believed that it would work out. It doesn’t look like I will have a retirement time. It is so sad.

Working hard and saving as much as I can may not give me a rest of my life to do what I always looked forward to when I had the time. I attempt to do some things I will enjoy during retirement, prior to retirement, but there is no time when you work full time and a half.

How do I look at a future that may not be there for me? It wasn’t there for my ex husband and it may not be there for me, for oh so many reasons not just economical.

What am I going to do for the rest of my life? I always thought there would be a rest of my life. Now I am wondering. My daughter says to “Consider the Lilies of the field and the birds of the air,” (Matthew 6) they worry not and God takes care of them. I know that living a life with God closely associated in it gives me a better focus. However, working hard and making enough money to have a retirement is important. He says that we must ‘work’ and that is what I have always done even though I grew up in a time where most women didn’t and I wanted to work through volunteering for others. I was never able to do that.

How do I think, how do I feel, how do I trust that things will ‘be ok’ when I can’t feel or think or trust right now? God has to take charge and I have to believe that if he doesn’t want me to retire, I have to accept that. Whatever he has for me, I want to accept, because for me, it will be His best. The past three years I have entrusted my life, my jobs and my economics to him. He has not let me down. He has given me a different career and I soared in it, He has shown me how to live and I have thrived in it.

However, two months after my ex husband died the country was hit by terrorists. I didn’t feel the threat and the fear that others might have because I was still numb and reeling from that other huge catastrophe of loss in my life. My reality is no longer an illusion. It’s time to wake up. However, the responsibilities do not go away. Even in living an illusion, I am still in full charge and responsible. But the illusion cushions most of the reality. Now, there are no illusions now, only reality.

How do I handle the grief, the loss, the other directedness that is no longer available, my daughter’s deep, deep agony and being truly and utterly alone? Yes, I am being selfish and inwardly directed. I am also grieving deeply for a life that can no longer be shared with the one I shared it with for more than 30 years. No one can share what we lived – together. No one has ever mentioned or written about that part of the loss. It is the loneliest feeling, to know that the other parts of you that were shared for more than 30 years will never be shared again. I grieve for those memories that are yet with me, but can never be felt and shared with the one other person in the world I lived them with.

I grieve for a life that I can no longer enjoy looking forward to (camaraderie of a shared life with someone) because it may either never come (he’s gone), or it may not be available to me (retirement). I look at the terrorism on the peripheral of my life but it has knocked a big hole in my life and in wondering ‘what am I going to do with the rest of my life.’

Those words had always throughout my life comforted me because I knew I had a choice. I knew that if I did not have a choice at that time, I would have a choice if I worked toward it. Now, with the loss of my ex husband and my retirement (through IRA’s), the choices that I will be able to make are so very limited.

I could never have known that the safest place for my funds would have been a savings account at 1.2 percent interest. I could never have known what the future held and made my decisions based on what I knew. History does repeat! As a history major, I should have been more astute!

During the 1960s and 1970s, this 401K idea was so new. It seemed the best way to make money for workers. Everyone was so ready to jump on the wagon because it would mean so much money down the road of retirement. No, I didn’t have the funds to do it then nor did I work for companies that offered it. To me, it sounded strange, but it was new. Little did I know that jumping on the wagon would take my retirement away from me and leave me no choice but to work the rest of my life until I drop dead instead of enjoying some kind of retirement. Working 40 hours a week, sometimes 50-60, does not leave me much time or energy to have a life of my own. All I can do is keep on keeping on. I’m more tired than I use to be, in many ways.

I want a bright future for my children and my grandchildren and I don’t know how to give them that. I have always been a fighter (in words and on paper to companies that are unfair to all of us) and I always found creative ways to accomplish many things. My illusions? I want my illusions back. They are the only way I can face a reality in which there isn’t much to hope but that I can handle it with resolve and independence.

How do I ask myself that question, What Am I Going To Do For The Rest Of My Life, and actually believe that I can do anything or that choices will be there for me when I need (not want, that is out the window now) to retire?

The only answer – God will provide and He will provide a way. It is my responsibility to keep open to what He wants me to do. As long as I stay in His will, he will give me a life that is beyond my understanding and it will be a far happier than if I plan it alone. He gives me choices and allows me to make those decisions and as long as those choices are from Him and my decisions are through Him, my life will go on and it will be happy and peaceful. He has proven that to me. Chaos may reign around me, but I can be peaceful with a solid foundation in Him.

Death, I know my ex husband is in a better place and I have accepted that because God heals all things. Those left behind make a different world and it will be a good one too. My ex husband would have wanted that for me and our children and all our grandchildren. He ensures that life is good.