As is the case with many people, some folks I know have been posting some emotionally charged videos recently, ones in which we see people who remind us of ourselves, those going through difficult times in life or enjoying family members around them. A friend of mine recently posted a video about last occurrences and how we don’t often recognize them or appreciate them. The short video shows a mom taking care of her kids and watching them grow up fast. We relive the moments that she bathes her children, picks up their messes, asks them not to color on the floor, and eventually allows them to borrow her car keys. However, one of the images that struck me with poignancy was the one in which she was holding her son on her hip. The narrator mentions that a parent never realizes the last time that she will carry her own child physically. There is indeed a last time for her to carry her child, a moment after which she will never carry that child again. Ever. The next day, the child may be too heavy or may not want to be carried. Knowing that such a moment, joyous or difficult, will never happen again, can be a difficult pill to swallow. As I read all the responses to that video, I started thinking about the lasts in our lives.
Life moves by extremely quickly. A few years ago, I wasn’t quite as aware of that fact as I am now. Yes, I knew even in my twenties that the moments were rushing by; however, as the years start adding up, those moments move exponentially faster. As depressing as it may sound, sometimes we visit with someone for the last time, not even realizing that that time spent together will never occur again in this lifetime. I didn’t realize a few years ago that one Friday evening, when my dad sat in the passenger’s seat of my Yukon that that would be the last time that he would sit anywhere. A few months ago, preparing my home for sale, I walked out, thinking that I would be back to take care of a few things. But taking care of the business end of selling a home from a long distance, I never physically returned. That house sold last week, and now I realize that that Thursday evening when I rushed out of the house, it would be the last time that I would stand in that home that I owned. Sometimes we even have changes in our diet to give up something we have always loved in order to keep our health. Sometimes, those meals are our last meals. Sadly, even friendships fade, and the evenings we spend together with a group could very well be the last ones that we spend together. We’re unaware that our lasts are sometimes our lasts.
There may be a favorite vacation spot we love to visit, but there will always be the last time that we make that trip. As I grow older, I realize that even stores shut down, and I’ll never get an opportunity to browse in a Sears or a Gibson’s store again. They are gone. We no longer lick postage stamps. I never knew that one postage stamp would be the last one that I would lick and stick. The area that is more important than houses, jobs, parties, and stores is our relationship with others.
It’s amazing how flippantly we treat people in our lives, using them for our benefit, expecting them to do for us instead of realizing that ultimately the greatest joy is doing for others. We pass people in stores, sometimes never making eye contact. We forget that every single person has a life, a past, heartaches, reasons for his actions, and an entire fabric of existence that is unique to him. Sometimes we treat family and friends with the same casual attitude. We’re quick to feel frustrated and reluctant to shower our own loved ones with kindness. But imagine for a moment that today may be the last time to show that love, the last opportunity to prove to those close to you that they are important to you. What lasts would you cherish and embrace if you realized they were indeed your lasts? The more we live with the realization that life is fleeting, the more we should actually enjoy living.