I’m an optimist. You might even accuse me of being overly-optimistic most of the time. By and large, the personal finance blogger community is filled with similar people. I think it’s because ultimately, hope and success in personal finance go hand in hand.
Sometimes, though, things don’t go as planned. Sometimes tragic and painful things happen to us, or to the people we love, and we’re at a loss to fit such awful tragedy into our narrative of outrageous optimism. Sometimes we have setbacks. Sometimes we lose people we love.
A Conspicuous Absence
I’ve written a tiny bit about it in the past, but the future Mrs. Vagabond lost her mother very suddenly and tragically early last year. Her presence in my fiancée’s life is felt every day, whether it be a hummingbird that she sees as a gesture of her absent momma, or in the many legal and financial papers that have trickled in over these past months.
Perhaps most keenly felt has been her absence as we approach our wedding date. The future Mrs. V’s mom will never see her daughter married. She’ll never see us have children. She’ll never share a Christmas or a New Year’s with our family, and she’ll never be there again when we bring home silly gifts from our travels. Even though she wasn’t my mom, it breaks my heart that every one of the joyful moments of the future will be tinged, at least a little bit, with heartache.
On the day that I spoke to my fiancée’s father to ask for his blessing to marry his daughter, I picked him up at his house. I told him that his daughter was going to meet us at the cemetery to visit with her mother for a bit before we went on a trip. Once we arrived, I revealed to my fiancée’s dad that his daughter wasn’t coming. I just wanted to be able to ask both of her parents if they would accept me into their family, and if they could consent to join mine.
Loss is hard, and sometimes the perfect moments we had imagined are reduced to being the best we can make of a tough situation.
The Shortness of Life: Living is Urgent
Despite the sad subject matter of this post, I still find reason to be hopeful. The short and uncertain nature of life gives us reason to live intensely and honestly. Part of processing loss for the future Mrs. V and I has meant a lot of conversations about what we mean to each other, and what we’d do without one other. I take some comfort in knowing that even though we’re far from our goal, what we’ve invested so far will make sure that my future Mrs. will be cared for.
I don’t want to die, but as I’ve said to my future Mrs. a number of times over the past year, “I may die tomorrow, but first, I lived.” I don’t mean that last part to be overwrought, but it’s an honest expression of my thoughts about uncertainty. Sure, I save every penny that I can towards our future. Though some might conclude that we deprive ourselves, we live fantastic, full-to-bursting, amazing lives. We find clever ways to indulge our passion for travel, and find that our positive outlook brings us into contact with countless people. We don’t hesitate to make friends with people we meet in passing. We tell our friends that we love them as often as we dare– and we dare pretty often.
I am sure that this kind of recognition of mortality is par for the course when you’re a normal human being, but maybe we don’t talk about it enough. It helps me to work out my thoughts on financial independence and early retirement, because even though we’re not putting off doing the things we love, we are racing as quickly as possible towards a day when the urgent business of living gets our undivided attention.
So yeah. Life is good. Being alive is good. Really, really, really living– is great.