Sept. 3 Book happiness and the last days of summer. . .

A few days ago, a writer friend sent me a lovely email, acknowledging my upcoming publication date and wishing me much “book-related happiness.”  She caught me by surprise, for we’ve been so taken up this week with the stuff of life that no one has been thinking much about the book.  I have received one finished copy from the publisher, so I know it exists, but we also have lots else going on.  Welcoming Henry home for a few days, after his summer job in Maine and before he heads back to college next week.  Getting Jack ready to return to school. Trying to squeeze in a few last swims, a dinner with old neighbors, an overnight at a friend’s Vermont cabin.  Tonight, though, we are all just sitting around the kitchen island, watching the U.S. Open (Jack’s been playing tennis almost ever day this summer) and chatting.  Jack’s packing cards into boxes (he’s been working for Steve’s company, doing piece work), and Henry’s trying to load new software onto his laptop. Steve’s narrating the tennis match and serving up coffee ice cream.  I’m typing.  And what I realize, a few days before The Gift of an Ordinary Day is officially published, is that my happiness in this moment is not book related, but life related.  Nearly grown children safe at home and within arm’s reach, black-eyed susans in a vase on the table, dog content and underfoot, husband cheerful. . .

Another friend, whose gentle, loving husband died of a stroke a couple of months ago, wrote me this morning that it’s his birthday today. Years ago, we celebrated his 50th on an island in Maine, with lobster on the beach, champagne at sunset, and a bonfire–one of those perfect, golden occasions that you think your life will be full of, if you do things right. And then years go by, and suddenly you see that the occasions are different, and people are missing, and you feel older and sadder and wiser, and yet, still you find ways to be grateful, and joyful.  Our whole family is at home tonight–a rarity now.  The moon is nearly full, in a clear early September sky. We will have four more days and nights together, every bed full and lots of dishes to do.  That does make me happy.

Of course, I’m looking forward to bookstore readings, too.  And every note from a reader or an old friend definitely qualifies as book-related happiness.

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