Last Time

“Lasts” are often bittersweet. Things like graduations, marriages, and births are often huge moments of celebration at the end of something. They have sadness mixed in because of what’s ended, but that’s expected. Stuff like this is the stuff we see coming. We anticipate it, and we wait for it, and we enjoy it when it arrives. These lasts aren’t the ones I’m talking about.

I was reading an article recently (and forgive me because I’m too lazy to go look it up to give credit) where the writer, a mom talking about how fast kids grow up, wrote:  You never know that it’s the last time you’re picking up your child in your arms.

And, you guys? When I read that line, I burst into tears. It still makes me well up. Those of you who are parents of nolongerpickupable kids, think about it. Do you remember the last time you scooped them up off the floor into your arms? I sure don’t. I remember how heavy they were, and how they would only nap if I were rocking them. I remember walking into their rooms in the mornings and lifting them out of their cribs. I remember how tired I was of doing it even though I tried my best to enjoy each moment. But I sure as hell don’t remember picking them up for the last time.

This got me thinking about lasts and how there are so many times over the course of our lives that we just don’t know it’s the last time we’re doing something. It might be the last time we see or talk to someone. It might be the last time we’re able to physically do something before an illness or injury. It might be our last embrace with a lover. These kinds of lasts, the kinds we aren’t aware of at the time, are the ones we often look back to in hindsight and wish we had paid more attention.

So, hey. How about this? How about we make an effort to be more present in everyday interactions with people – especially the people we claim to love? How about we spend at least part of every day noticing and savoring whatever situation we find ourselves in? Take a look around. Listen to the sounds. Inhale the fragrances. Absorb the colors. Touch your coffee cup or your husband’s hand. Really be present for what’s going on around you for just a minute or two. That’s all it takes.

My daughter walked out the door this morning to attend her very last day of high school. I knew it was coming. As I watched her walk down the steps, her blue dress turned to the pink one she wore to her very first day of Kindergarten. I saw her so clearly as that little 5-year-old standing in line outside the classroom door, bobbed hair blowing gently in the breeze, a smile full of baby teeth beaming from her eager face.

But I can’t, for the life of me, remember the last time I picked that sweet girl up.


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