This morning we had a last time in our house. It looked like this:
That looks pretty happy doesn’t it? And it is. It’s the last time G and our son will have their morning drive for coffee and a bagel and school drop-off. They love these mornings together that began many moons ago over band practice, or soccer practice, or leadership group, or some such thing that needed to happen earlier than it was reasonable to bus. They continued, usually on Tuesday mornings…well, just because. I watched them leave this morning after whispering to G, “It’s the last time – notice”.
Because so many times I have realized that there was a last time and I didn’t even know it. Like this:
How many times did our first baby snooze in this seat? With her soosie and her blankie tucked up against her cheek just so? When I set her there, knowing just what she needed to settle into slumber, so sure of what she needed to be safe and happy – when I set her there the last time…I didn’t know. I look at that picture now and wonder how it all sped by so fast. This morning she drove away to work, the world before her, with new challenges and with such independence.
As our last baby approaches his high school graduation it has made me think about life and the seasons of change – and how much I need to process the “lasts”. I can picture with absolute clarity the last time I saw my father standing on his own, outside, where I’d taken him in his wheelchair for a walk through the tulips. I knew it would likely be our last outing so I watched and etched it on my heart to call it out whenever I want. To see him again at his full height, ill, but still himself. But the last time I heard his voice? That’s a last I didn’t know and didn’t mark. I’m not quite sure when I last heard him talk or what he said, and I wish I’d known to capture it.
It’s like the last bedtime story. Oh how many bedtime stories were read in this house! I read to our kids long after they were well able to read to themselves. We read long chapter books, sometimes them reading out loud to me as we lay entwined, lost in the stories. What was the last story? When did bedtime change and I become irrelevant to it? Whenever the last bedtime story was, I didn’t know it. I missed marking it and it slipped away on the whisper of time.
The last time I lifted a squeaky clean, freshly bathed body from the tub and into my towel draped arms? Oh, so very, very long ago. I recall clearly sitting on the stairs in our old house, our son happily wrapped in a towel on my lap. I smelled his clean scent, drinking in the curly damp hair and happy sounds and acknowledged that he was my last baby and that these times of baby shampoo smell and kissable pudgy feet were limited. So I noticed. That wasn’t exactly the last time I’m sure, but I engraved it in my memory to call out now and then.
So many last times: the last time I saw one of my children running on the playground after school; the last time I saw my father standing on the dock at the lake; the last time I had a two – or even a three – in my age; the last time I stood in my childhood home; the last time I cuddled a nightmare perturbed little form in my bed; the last time my husband kissed me before we were three and then four…
Then there was this good friend that has marked my leaving and returning to our home for the last eleven years. She has stood sentinel over this place for over forty. And I saw her for the last time last week and I didn’t know it when I drove away. I returned to find her gone, and left only in the sweet places of my soul. I’m glad I paid attention and appreciated her:
Life is filled with wonderful moments of passage. Change is inevitable. To everything there is a season. I have been blessed with so many wonderful, tender, intimate, magnificent memories. I have learned that marking the lasts and holding them close for a moment before releasing them to their rightful place in time helps me feel them in their fullness.
So, don’t forget to notice. What last times have you engraved on your heart?