What Happens After the End of the Book?

I’m wondering today what happens after the last page, the last frame, the last word.


What follows happily ever after?

What could possibly follow something so perfect?

I’m learning lately that the part after the last page is rather hard to write.  When it comes to love, so many of our cultural ideals involve achieving the elusive happily ever after–romantic comedies, YA love stories, even norms about in which order to meet-cute, fall in love, have the perfect wedding, and have babies.

The problem is that cultural ideals don’t tell us what happens after we’ve done all that.  How do you live a life that is happily ever after when you don’t see your spouse very often because you both work crazy hours?  How do you deal with raising a child who you love, but who means that you can’t pursue your own dreams at the moment?  How do you do this when you feel lonely and isolated and sad?

How do you live happily ever after if you just don’t feel happy?

I’ve been grappling with these questions in what has been, hopefully, the bleakest season of my life.  The light is coming, and I can get through the darkness, but I wish I could find the answer in my usual solace of reading.

While I haven’t found many books about these questions, I’ve found lots of great articles.  This article and this one remind me that maybe I was much happier in my past because my life was so full of meaning and purpose, not because I am “unhappy”338d376310c6a6715256af33dd2eb412.jpg now.  This article reminds me that parenting is hard, and it’s only as common as it is because it’s a cultural norm and a biological drive.

Everyone tells me that some things are hard, and they will get better.  I just wish someone had told me that the ending of a book, a story, a movie…isn’t the end.

It’s the beginning.


4 thoughts on “What Happens After the End of the Book?

  1. Tricia Ebarvia says:

    It’s not the end… it is the beginning, like you say. This last line reminded me of commencement addresses, which my students recently studied. Many of them were surprised that commencement actually meant beginning rather than ending since so many of them equate graduation with nostalgic memories of days gone by.

    It is hard. I hear you. Teaching, writing, parenting—there aren’t enough hours in a day. I’ve been hunkered down in my own grading and planning purgatory—some of it self-inflicted, much of it not. It’s hard. I’ve found that finding even five moments of quiet in my classroom to be a lifesaver. Just five minutes to set back with cup of coffee and just let my mind clear… Find your happy place and give it five minutes. I hope it helps. Hang in there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Shana Karnes says:

      Thanks, Tricia. There are lots of happy places for me–a good book, a cup of coffee, a kitty cuddle–but sometimes just so few moments in the day to find those places. Thanks for reminding me to seek them out. ❤


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