The Last Normal Day: Cancer, Covid, and Cabernet

Patrick J. Sauer
9 min readDec 31, 2020

I don’t do much personal essaying anymore, but inspired by the great “Last Normal Day” series at Luke O’Neil’s Welcome to Hell World substack (and because I couldn’t get my shit together in time to send it to him before it went on hiatus), I wrote about a decadent French dinner in Manhattan shared with my Dad, his wife Terry, and our Brooklyn Three on Tuesday March 10.

Hope you enjoy it. R.I.P. Frank’s. Gonna miss you, old friend.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Fuck off forever, 2020.


Dad was always ahead of his time — Mayo Clinic, 2017

On the last normal day, someone in our small dinner party — I’m not saying who — ordered the $60 fish.

Was it the dover sole? I think it was the dover sole? Let’s just say it was the dover sole. It was the Tuesday night in the before times and my dad, the good Dr. Patrick Sauer, was in town with Terry, his wife of 25 years, and thus our Brooklyn Sauer Three met them for an indulgent French meal. We dined on Coq au Vin at La Goulue, one of those fahn-ceee old-school Upper East Side bistros where Truman Capote and Lee Radziwill presumably got their Death in the Afternoon on. La Goulue wasn’t crowded, so we took our time. Lingered and laughed. We made our embarrassed 4th-grader practice some of that French…