Monday, May 9, 2011

The last time

I don't think about it that often, but this morning my husband reminded me about how any time we do something, it's possible that we could be doing that thing for the last time. If you kept this as a constant thought in your mind, a constant refrain, would you do things with more passion, with more conviction? Would you make sure to say the things you've always meant to say? Would you never go to bed angry?

Would I?

My uncle died two days ago. I wonder what his answers to these questions would be...

I wrote the 100 words above on August 12, 2010. Since my uncle's death on August 10 and my grandma's death on September 16, I've given much more thought to the things that I do or don't do and the words that I say or don't say. The older I get, the more I'm aware of the passage of time and how it's impossible to know what our future holds. In my day-to-day life, I try to be mindful of the things I say and do, conscious of the certain fact that one day, those things will be the last things and those words will be the last words. Things as mundane as helping my kids put their shoes on or asking them yet again to hold still while I comb their hair--too soon these things will be in the past, and as much as I complain about them now, I know I will miss these moments once they're gone. One day, my daughter will be able to tie her own shoes and comb her own hair; she won't need me to do these things for her. And my son--soon he'll be choosing his own clothes and reading on his own; he'll no longer need my help.

I wish we could predict these last times. But, knowing that we can't, I'm trying, in my own clumsy, stumbling way, to live each moment fully, to experience and laugh and love, to be quicker to forgive and more patient with others. I want to be able to look back and feel as though I embraced every moment of my life, both the good and the bad, no tears and no regrets.


  1. Being a parent really reminds you of this truth. You pick up your child over and over again, but one day, completely unaware, you'll pick them up for the last time because they don't need to be picked up anymore.

    Nice post!

  2. I'm trying to be mindful of this, too, following my mom's death. I was also shocked about a month ago when I learned someone I met on my last trip to Eugene left the office one day, went into a coma and was expected to die having never awakened. The fact he could go from that alive to just gone made me really wonder, "Would I want these to be my last words? Would I want this to be [x]'s last memory of me?" I'm trying to temper this care with the knowledge I'm fallible, so I don't get too aggro on myself for messing up, but I definitely want to be more mindful.

  3. you're doing a great job just being aware of it. it was easier to do with my first 2 they're barely a year apart. the third is more mature, i dont always treat him like the little 7 yo he is...thanks for reminding me =)

  4. Thanks, Monica. Your comment makes me sad, but it's so true. It's like when I was nursing my son: I didn't know the last time until there was no next time. It's bittersweet...

    Deb: I'm sorry about your friend--that's horrible. I have a hard time with the guilt thing, too. I'm always way too hard on myself when I mess up. Wanting to be more mindful and actually succeeding at it are two very different things for me.

    Thanks, Tara. I'm really trying!