Tuesday, February 4, 2014

"The Last Happy Day"

A friend of mine just lost her husband, tragically, unexpectedly, with no warning at all, while they were off together on a blissful sabbatical in Ireland. She posted on Facebook one of the last pictures she had taken before his untimely death, with the heartbreaking caption, "The last happy day."

Those might be the four saddest words I've ever read.

The only good thing I can think of to say right now is that it was clear from her previous email posts that she was treasuring the happiness of each happy day right up until that final happy day. She didn't know that the "last happy day" was going to be the LAST happy day (or at least the last happy day she would share on this earth with the man she loved: I hope and pray that she'll come to know other happy days again in her life ). But at least she knew it was a happy day. At least she recognized, appreciated, and celebrated the happiness that she had while she had it.

Sometimes I'm afraid that I will have had the last happy day and failed to notice how happy it was.

So let me announce right now: today is going to be a happy day, barring the terrible tragedy that can mar any human life, that indeed will mar just about every human life at some point.

Already I can report that I got up early and worked on the comments I'm to deliver at the Central Division meeting of the American Philosophical Association, at the end of February in Chicago, on Tom Wartenberg's book A Sneetch Is a Sneetch and Other Philosophical Discoveries: Finding Wisdom in Children's Literature. I thought of some worthwhile and possibly witty things to say about the book. That felt good.

Later this morning, I'm going to pick up my writer friend Cat and go to the cozy dining hall at Chautauqua and write with her by the fireplace. I'm going to order their hot chocolate that comes with the world's most perfectly toasted, golden-brown, marshmallow on the side. There I'll write what I hope will be a particularly droll chapter of the second book in my Nora Notebooks series.

Afterward, I'll get Christopher and Ashley's report from their 10:00 doctor's appointment on how the last month of the pregnancy is going, the pregnancy that will culminate in the birth of my first granddaughter in a few more weeks.

This evening I host my beloved writing group at my house. We'll read the last chapter of Phyllis's novel-in-progress, always a satisfying moment. We'll read a second draft of Annie's delightful work of creative nonfiction. I'll share a Nora scene. We'll eat leftover Superbowl party snacks.

Oh, and throughout the day, snow is predicted to be softly falling. Fine flakes are sifting from the sky outside my window as I write this now.

This is going to be a happy day. Please God, it won't be the last happy day. But I'm going to notice exactly how happy it is, either way.


  1. You are a wonderful and wise person, and it makes my days happier to have you in them!

  2. Back at you, dearest Jeannie, you who radiate creative joy and foster creative community!

  3. This is beautiful, Claudia. I had a series of small unexpected things force me to change my plans for how I spent today. Early this morning I decided I could be a grump about it or I could embrace what is and make it a good day. And it's ended up being a great day rather than a good day, and after reading your post and getting this new perspective if makes me extra happy I chose to embrace rather than grump. Thank you.

  4. Jennifer, yes, embracing what is, when we can (which can sometimes be impossible, I guess) does seem to be the way to have bad days turn into good ones, and good ones turn into great ones.

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