The Tragic Optimist

Where there’s a will – or planning for what we hope will never happen

Chris and I went to a will-writing workshop last night. It was kind of cool, actually, it was community ed, but taught by a lawyer and a notary, so at the end of it, we had a signed, notarized, legal will. So, if you were looking to inherit all our riches, well, 1 – we don’t have any riches, but 2 – they’re going to Zoe (surprise, surprise).

Actually, the distribution of non-existent wealth was the least important part. The more pressing matter was naming who would be the guardian of Zoe if the worst would happen and Chris and I were both gone. I’m not going in to our choices here, but suffice it to say, it’s not really a mental fantasy that you want to indulge yourself in. But it was really hard for me to separate myself from that line of thinking. For the rest of the evening after we got home, I found myself thinking of the next year as if Chris and I were both gone. I’d think about where Zoe would go and who would do what. Not in a “what-if” hypothetical way, but in a this is what will happen sort of way. I finally figured out what I was doing and managed to snap myself out somewhat. Sobering. But I’m glad we have that taken care of.

The one funny story of the night: Through the whole class, the instructor – who had a very dry, sarcastic sense of humor – would use the college where I work (which happens to be the college I graduated from) as the example of some place you could leave your money. But he did it in a strangely droll way. So at the end, when he was notarizing my will, I asked him if he went there, or if he just liked making fun of it. “Oh no, I hate it,” he told me, completely seriously. “Ah, excellent!” I said, because that’s what I say when I’m completely surprised and don’t know what to say. Then I added, “I’ll wait for you to finish notarizing before telling you that’s where I work…” He immediately told me it was a great place, and I laughed. I grabbed a class evaluation form and went to fill it out, and looked up. “Hate is a strong word for how I feel about it,” he told me glancing at my evaluation form. That just cracked me up more. I needed something silly like that to break the mood.



  1. keith and i are planning on getting our wills done before twinkle gets here. i hate thinking about it too. it is so weird. but something that needs to get done i guess!

    I am glad you got a little humor into that session, even if he was making fun of your work!

  2. I remember when my Hubby’s sister and her husband drew up their wills and what they wanted to happen to the girls, money, house, etc. It was just so strange to think about. Even stranger, I’m sure, when it’s YOUR will out on paper.

  3. Eve

    My dh and I NEED to do this, we’ve put it off terribly, not because we have to worry about leaving money behind…yeah right! But because we don’t have a ‘perfect’ fit to take our son. It’s just comletely heartbreaking to think about.

    But this year we actually DID get an insurance policy on my son, after one of my best friends unexpectely lost her 6 year old son. That’s not a fun thing to do either.

  4. Angela Heffernan

    The workshop sounds like a great idea! Perfect! We’re gling to do one of those online forms to draft our will — completely legal. It seems ridiculous to spend $500 on a form, especially at our income level! Any tips you got that you wouldn’t have thought of that are especially important as parents?

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