This week we were out to dinner with friends, and one of them was telling us a funny story from college. He quipped, "It was the best day ever." When his wife looked over she asked to what he was referring, and I said it was the day he married her. She rolled her eyes knowing that's not what he'd said, but it raised a question. My husband asks the group, "Remove the big ones - weddings, birth of children - but what is your best day?"
Nobody had a ready answer because that's a huge question. I've been thinking about it in the days since wondering, other than those huge life events, what is my best day? It turns out I don't have a best day, a single best 24 hours in my life. I have a series of moments that, when woven together, make up my best day.
Take our wedding as an example. I loved our wedding, and I had so much fun. But to be honest it wasn't the best day of my life. It's stressful. It's expensive. It flies by in a blur, and you don't really get to spend time with your family or friends. I barely saw my brand new husband that day. It was a fun day, but it wasn't the best day of my life.
My best day includes the moment the nurse walked into the hospital room with a tiny bundle and my husband and I were confused and elated to realize this was our son. It includes the first night my husband kissed at me, and we made out in my car at a park 'n ride for 45 minutes at 2 am. On my best day I watched a University of Arizona football game and drank coffee with my dad in his hospital room during the last evening I'd ever spent with him. I was in the delivery room when my beautiful niece was born. It's two days before our wedding and I'm laughing hysterically in my living room with my parents and siblings, I think the last time just the six of us were together without significant others or children. I'm finishing my first marathon. I'm hearing my husband's amazing laugh across a room. I'm brave enough to do a back handspring on the hard gym floor for the first time. I'm rocking Will in the middle of the night. Murphy is licking me with his puppy breath. I'm in the middle of a five hour brunch with some of our best friends. I'm sitting on the screened in porch on our Maine vacation reading during a thunderstorm. I'm drinking a bottle of Veuve with our neighbors on a random Tuesday. My husband is handing me a cup of coffee prepared exactly the way he knows I like it. I'm reading The Bridges of Madison County. Will is snuggled on my lap watching a movie. I'm eating a grilled chicken salad from the Boston Beanery. I'm in high school and my mom is buying me my own little Christmas tree to put in the basement because I'd been feeling down. I'm lying in bed chatting with my best friend who's pregnant with baby number two. My dad is running ahead of us on a hiking trail climbing every rock with a "do not climb" sign. My husband is holding my hand in the car and singing Randy Travis's Forever and Ever, Amen to me. I'm singing one of my favorite hymns with Mom in church. I'm taking Izzy on a long walk. I'm 16 years old and riding the escalator to street level in DC and falling in love with cities for the first time. I'm running a half marathon with my friend Nikki. I'm drinking with my sister in the gazebo at Duck-In in Virginia Beach. I'm riding my bike to my grandparents' house with my brother. I'm drinking a pina colada on the beach in Mexico. I'm falling in love with winter in a -11 degree day in Marquette, Michigan. I'm sitting on the porch swing at our house in Hundred. I'm eating duck confit at Richmond Station in Toronto. I can see mountains. My best day smells like lilacs.
When I think of those moments I love the most, they're rarely a big event or a vacation. They're those instants that happen every day, and if you aren't paying attention you could miss them. My best day was amazing, and it's not over. It's barely begun.