It should come as no surprise that I am a writer by nature.  Perhaps not a good one, but my instinct is to write before I do anything else.  And one of the most difficult things to do is the choose the final line.  Stephenie Meyer (yes, I read her books) inserted a very meta-esque comment about it in Breaking Dawn.  Bella talked about the finality of writing the words “The End” on a manuscript.  Then, at the conclusion, that’s exactly what showed up.  I can’t say I loved that tactic, but oh well. (I’ve never liked, “The End,” as an ending, incidentally.  Another reason to be dissatisfied with Meyer’s writing.)  I prefer to choose a line that wraps up the entire book/novella/blog/whatever.  If I have to say “fin” at the end (my preferred term), I’ve done something wrong.

So when I heard a commercial on the radio that said, “Because when you write the story of your life, you want the last line to read, “And they lived happily ever after,'” it got me thinking.  Is that really the last line I want?

I decided: no.

Okay, so I’m a bit contrary by nature (Gee, were you surprised?) and that probably contributed.  But also, “And they live happily ever after,” is so open ended.  What does that even mean?  Does in mean some mythical perpetual joy with no downsides and no fights and no, “Gee, honey, but I’m feeling like we aren’t getting along anymore” bull?  Or does is mean that it all averages out? (Because that’s not a depressing thought.)  Or does it mean that we take it on faith that everything works out despite reality being a right and stroppy . . . not going to finish that sentence (Hi, Mom!  Hi, Dad!).  So yeah.  I don’t like happily ever after.  It is an ending that trivializes the effort of those who do actually live “happily ever after.”  I know my parents, despite making it look ridiculously easy, work at their relationship all the time.  They are constantly taking care that they stay connected despite being busy with their children and own pursuits/responsibilities.  My parents are also the happiest couple I have ever met (Hi, Mom!  Hi, Dad!).  I’ve seen TONS of good marriages, marriages between people so well suited to each other it’s like they were made at the same time and just separated, but my parents have them all beat.  And I know that’s because they put in a lot of work.

So, I thought about it some more and decided on the line that I want to end the story of my life: “And she passed away at peace.”  It’s not pretty, it’s not fancy, but it says so much more than “happily ever after.”  It says everything I hope I will have achieved and worked at–sometimes failing, other times succeeding–and hopefully it’ll let people know that I made that happily ever happen, but decided it didn’t have to end there.

And today’s last line comes from that thought: Happily ever after is a beginning.  Don’t treat it like an ending.


P.S.  This wasn’t going to be today’s post, originally.  It was supposed to be another post in the “You Should Read This First” series, but those take a bit longer and I didn’t have as much time this week to work on the next one as I expected.