My husband was out of town last week on business and I had the bed to myself for four nights. What’s unusual about that is not my husband’s absence, but that neither of my daughters took the opportunity to come snuggle with me. They’ve outgrown it, I guess. On the one hand, it’s a relief—sleeping with my youngest is akin to being caught in a rugby scrum—but on the other, it makes me a shade melancholy, because the last time one of them snuck into bed with me was the very last time and I didn’t know it or note the occasion. That got me thinking about all the other “lasts” that we don’t know are lasts until long after the fact.
There’s a bunch associated with the kids growing up, from those lasts you’re grateful for (last diaper) to those you miss (last bedtime story). Re the latter, my youngest and I still share bedtime stories, only now we read Dave Barry or Calvin Trillin essays and she reads to me as often as I read to her. It doesn’t happen every night any more, but often enough that I don’t think the last time will be this week or next month. It saddens me, though, to think that one night will be the last and I probably won’t recognize it ahead of time, or remember which essay we read or the way we laughed together. We keep track of firsts—tooth, step, word—in baby books . . . Why is it that we let lasts go by unmarked and frequently un-noticed?
Lasts with Parents
Lasts also happen as a parent ages and then dies, or disappears into dementia. (Yeah, I know this blog is getting depressing, but I’ve been thinking about these things lately as my oldest chooses a college –more on that in another post–and my father-in-law drifts into dementia.) I can’t remember my last coherent conversation with my dad, or pinpoint our last holiday together, or bring to mind the last joke we shared. It pains me to think I won’t recognize the last shopping expedition with my mom, the last Christmas, the last “I love you.” Sometimes, I think dying of a massive heart attack would be the most merciful way to go, but other times I think that a condition that gives you a couple weeks notice of the grim reaper’s appearance would be better because you have the opportunity to commemorate, or at least notice, the important lasts.
Living in the Present
This post may make it sound like I’m drowning in melancholia, but I’m really not. On the bright side, my awareness of lasts makes me try harder to live in the present and appreciate each and every moment, during the moment, with my loved ones. It makes me give thanks for each bedtime story with my youngest, each Starbucks foray with my oldest, each kiss from my hubby. It increases my awareness of my blessings and I am grateful.
What about you? What lasts do you wish you’d taken more note of?