The Last Time

Noticing every moment

The Last Time
Photo by Liv Bruce / Unsplash

“This may be the last time we’re all together.”

My mother was always saying this when I was growing up. I’m not sure why, exactly. 

My father was an older father so maybe she was worried he would die while we were still young (she needn’t have worried: he was 96 when he died and we were well into our 50s by then).

When I would asked her what she meant, she would vaguely indicate that my older siblings would, at some point, find significant others. I took this to mean either we wouldn’t be as great when other people joined our group, or my siblings wouldn’t be able to prioritize us when they had other families to appease (neither assumption played out - just the opposite in fact).

Or perhaps, with 5 children, it was her way of making sure she stayed present to every moment together despite the overwhelm she must have felt at times.

Consequently, and maybe this was her intention all along, my family was a tight group and we prioritized being together as much as possible. 

Still do, despite the deaths of both of my parents. 

I can't quite bring myself to say the same thing to my kids - even knowing how well it turned out for me. Bearing the worry that my father would die when I was young, being skeptical of other people infiltrating my family, aren't traits I'm eager to pass along.

But I do have a “this could be the last time” mentality. It keeps me present to the moments I’m in. 

The last time I napped with my children.

The last time I held my mother’s hand.

The last time I told my father how much I loved him.

The last time I saw the ocean.

The last time I ran without hesitation.

I’m always hopeful there is more. Often, there is. But I try to stay aware of the reality that life is not in my control. It can end, change, upend itself in an instant. Without warning, without permission. 

Maybe that’s what my mother knew.

Maybe that’s what my mother was telling me.

Pay attention.

Stay present.

Don’t take even a moment for granted.