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I look at the people in this circle with me—my family, my friends, my husband—and I am overwhelmed with hope for the future.

I don’t know if everyone is as thankful for this moment as I am. I don’t know if everyone here understands how fragile life and love can be. I don’t know if they are thinking about that right now.

I just know that I’ve learned it for myself. And I’ll never forget it.

A few months later, it’s a Wednesday night. My night to pick whatever dinner I want. I decide to order from the Vietnamese place down the street and then think better of it. Ryan has had a hard day at work. I’m going to order us a pizza.

But before I do, Ryan waves me over to his computer.

“Uh . . . Lauren?” he says.

“Yeah?” I say, walking toward him.

“Remember when you said you wrote to that woman?”

“What woman?”

“Ask Allie?”

I sit down next to him. Thumper is at his feet. “Yeah,” I say.

“Well, it looks like she wrote back to you. Are you ‘Lost in Los Angeles’?”

• • •

Dear Lost in Los Angeles,

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. It’s a lesson learned by those who have faced the most miserable of tragedies, and it’s a secret that I suspect you yourself already know: the sun will always rise. Always.

The sun rises the next day after mothers lose their babies, after men lose their wives, after countries lose wars. The sun will rise no matter what pain we encounter. No matter how much we believe the world to be over, the sun will rise. So you can’t go around assessing love by whether or not the sun rises. The sun doesn’t care about love. It just cares about rising.

And the other little piece of information that I think you need to know is that there are no rules in marriage. I know it would be easier if there were. I know we all sometimes hope for them; cut-and-dried answers would make the decisions easier. Black-and-white problems would be simpler to solve. But there simply isn’t a rule that works for every marriage, for every love, for every family, for every relationship.

Some people need more boundaries, some people need fewer. Some marriages need more space, some marriages need more intimacy. Some families need more honesty, some families need more kindness. There’s no single answer for any of it.

So I can’t tell you what to do. I can’t tell you if you should be with your husband or not. I can’t tell you if you need him or want him. Need and want are words we define for ourselves.

Here is what I can tell you. All that matters in this life is that you try. All that matters is that you open your heart, give everything you have, and keep trying.

You and your husband reached a point in your marriage where most people would give up. And you didn’t. Let that speak to you. Let that guide you.

Do you have more to give your marriage? If you do, give it everything you’ve got.

Much love,

Allie

• • •

I print out the letter and put it in the shoebox in the closet. It’s the first thing you see when you open it now; it’s on top of all the keepsakes and mementos. I think of it as the last piece of advice my grandmother ever gave me.

Ever gave us all.

And I intend to follow that advice.

I don’t know if Rachel’s bakery is going to succeed.

I don’t know if Charlie and Natalie will stay together.

I don’t know if my mom will move in with Bill.

I don’t know if Ryan and I will celebrate our fiftieth anniversary.

But I can tell you that we are all going to try.

We’re all going to give it everything we’ve got.

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