Happiest Days

All of us have phases in our lives … periods of our lives we remember for what we were doing (School? Jobs?) or where we were living, or what was happening in our family or who was important (for good or for bad) in our lives at different moments.

Some phases blend into each other, and can be separated only in retrospect. Others are distinct. (A graduation. The end of a job or relationship. An illness or death.) We can think through the good parts, the bad parts, the things we wish we could change … and the things we’re grateful for, or are just glad we survived.

One of those times for thinking back is the end of life. I’ve cared for two people who were dying (my mother and my husband,) and both of them went through that process.  Some of their thoughts and memoires they shared with me. Others they preferred to keep private.

My life can be easily divided. K-12 school, undergraduate college, living in Greenwich Village while attending graduate school and working full-time, my first marriage, my jobs at AT&T, being transferred to the Jersey suburbs, adopting my four children and helping others who also wanted to adopt, moving to Maine, writing fiction, and marrying the man I’d always loved. Those divisions are facts.

Emotional divisions would be different.

Because, of course, each of those phases had its highs and its lows. So, focusing on the positives, I decided to think back and isolate what days, what moments, of my life I was most happy. That doesn’t mean I was unhappy on all the other days. But a few days stand out as high points. Some of mine were ….

  • As a senior in high school, being editor of my high school newspaper and having that newspaper, which had been hated by many in my town, being named the best high school newspaper in New Jersey by the Scholastic Press Association.
  • As a senior in college, having two of my poems win the national Story Magazine competition and be praised by judge Marianne Moore.
  • Moving to New York City.
  • Flying to Indianapolis representing my company’s headquarters on my first business trip – and being the first woman in that role.
  • The days I first heard about each of my four daughters … and the days I met them.
  •  Passing my doctoral comprehensives.
  • The day I stepped in at the last minute to replace someone, spoke to a large audience … and got a standing ovation. (I was speaking about adopting older children.)
  • The day an editor in New York contacted me out of the blue and asked me to write an autobiography. (I chose not to.)
  •  The day I finished writing my first full book — a mystery.
  • Days in both adolescence and as an adult when I rowed my skiff on the Sheepscot River in Maine, getting close to herons and other birds.
  • The day I was offered a contract for my first book to be published.
  • The day – a year after it was submitted – that the first book I’d written sold. And, a year later, that book’s being nominated for a “best first mystery” Agatha Award.(Note: my first book written and first book published were not the same book!)
  • After ten years apart, the day Bob and I reconnected. (We married 18 months later.)
  •  Bob and I dancing together in a Paris park. A band was playing, but no one else was dancing.
  • Taking trips to Italy, India, Scotland, and Charleston, South Carolina by myself. (Two trips re: my children and two re: research for my books.)

As I look at that list I realized one major thing. Although other people were involved in many of those days, most of the things on my list were personal accomplishments or events.

Most of my life I was single, and, although there were times when I was lonely, most of the time I didn’t mind being alone, having moments I wasn’t always supporting or caring for the people I loved, and putting their needs first. That doesn’t negate the joy I found in parenting, or the incredible love, emotional support and happiness I was given for the first time during the fifteen years Bob and I were married. It meant caring for myself brought its own rewards.

That insight was a realization that helped me put my whole life in perspective.

If I could, would I change any part of my life? No. I made decisions that were right for me at the time, even when others questioned them. Yes, there were things I would have liked to have done that I haven’t done. But no one can do everything.

I’ve accomplished most of my major goals. It’s been a good life.

And, bottom line, I have no regrets.

I hope you can say the same about your life.

About Lea Wait

I write mysteries - the Mainely Needlepoint, Shadows Antique Print and, coming in June of 2018, the Maine Murder mysteries (under the name Cornelia Kidd.) When I was single I was an adoption advocate and adopted my four daughters. Now my mysteries and novels for young people are about people searching for love, acceptance, and a place to call home. My website is http://www.leawait.com To be on my mailing list, send me a note at leawait@roadrunner.com
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14 Responses to Happiest Days

  1. Anne Cass says:

    Generous comes to mind.And grace. Thanks for sharing; indeed a life well lived.💕

  2. Lois T. Bartholomew says:

    Thanks for sharing, Lea.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Lea for sharing those parts of your life. We all need to reflect on our yesterday’s. Sometimes,the least little thing ,a word,a scent,a song,will trigger a memory and cause you to remember certain times in your life.

  4. This is such a powerful, personal post, Lea. Thank you for writing it. It is always a good time to take stock, and your thoughtful way of doing so will likely inspire many of us to undertake a similar exercise.

  5. Louisette Castonguay says:

    As I “age”, I find myself reflecting more on the “stages” of my life. I have spent most of my life alone, and also not often felt lonely. Seeing horrendous domestic situations, I figure better alone than mismatched. Thanks for sharing. I believe that will be the topic, stages of life, for our next writer’s group meeting on MOnday. We meet weekly for three hours and seldom run out of ponts for talking, but do better if we have a topic which is supposed to enrich our writing. Oh, man, I want to read ALL the books you mystery writers from Maine are doing. Maybe this summer, or fall, or….

  6. Richard Cass says:

    Lovely, Lea. Thank you for sharing . . .

  7. So beautiful, Lea and it has me thinking about those moments. Thank you.

  8. Alice Dashiell says:

    Lea, you have so much to be proud of; focusing on the positive is good for all of us. Right now you are my role model. For all that you do, thank you.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Awesome thank you for sharing job very well. done

  10. Lynn Marie Pelletier says:

    Lea – I really enjoyed reading this and am most impressed by the fact that you adopted four children. What a full life you have had – and have – with so many highlights. Thanks for writing and sharing so much here.

  11. Kay Bennett says:

    Love this! Thank you for sharing.

  12. Judi says:

    A woman I worked with called it “looking in the rear view mirror. ” Thanks for sharing.

  13. Louise Newton says:

    Certainly with you there, Lea…in my 81st year, I can look back, which I don’t do often, at life, love, birth (and loss) of children, educational accomplishment, career success, and still the little joys of life, books and music and good friends wherever I go. I celebrate your life and your accomplishments. You are one of my stars…….blessings Louise

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