Saturday, April 2, 2011

Life worth living

This week, I received some sad news. The sister of a high school friend had died very suddenly. I hadn't seen this girl in years, but I'd recently reconnected with her on Facebook. She posted a lot, so I felt I had a sense of what was going on with her. She was the only FB friend I had who would randomly post on people's walls, just to say hello. She was looking forward to getting a new job. To log on, a week ago today, and learn that she was no longer with us was a terrible shock.

I attended the wake, and for some reason, didn't feel like going right home. So I drove out to the library nearby, which was probably not the best of ideas. If you're like me and don't go with a 'shopping list', what you come away with is definitely influenced by your mood.

But one thing I did grab is Fannie Flagg's newest, I Still Dream About You. I like Fannie Flagg. Her stuff is not terribly deep, but you usually come away feeling good. And if she can write a cheerful book whose plot is driven by the main character's plan to kill herself, I guess that's no small feat.

Maggie Fortinberry is an ex-Miss Alabama whose life didn't go as planned. Her simple dream had been to marry, live in one of the older mansions in Birmingham and raise children. Instead, she wound up in a long-term affair with a married man who died suddenly, then returned to Birmingham and became a real-estate agent. She's pushing 60, doing real estate with less and less success, squeezed by a ruthless competitor agent and still missing her mentor in the business. She develops a plan that she thinks is foolproof, but things keep interrupting her.

In the process, she realizes, of course, that her life does have value. There are people that care about her, even if none of them are her husband or her child. It is worth living to see tomorrow, after all. The book isn't laugh-out-loud funny, but parts will make you smile. It's also an extremely quick read. But after this week, it was nice to read something that was just life-affirming.

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