By: Natalie Batkis, Contributing Writer at Graphic Intuitions
We always spend so much time celebrating "firsts". The first birthday, the first tooth, the first job, the first car... You get where I'm going with this. We have scrapbooks and photo albums bursting at the seams with them. And, for the most part, "firsts" are always so easy to predict. We know they're coming and we can usually properly prepare for them, having a camera close by to mark the monumental occasion.
But then there are "lasts". We often don't see the "lasts" coming. They always have a way of sneaking by us without anyone even noticing. And, in some cases, we have no way of preparing for them because they hit us in such a surprising way, we are left stunned.
A few weeks ago, my son, who is almost three, made the transition from crib to toddler bed. I knew the day was on its way, so I was prepared. On the last night in his crib, I remembered to take a picture of this important "last". "Ha ha.... You thought you could get away but I saw you coming this time, 'last'," I thought to myself. But in our home, we had a ritual with our littlest guy. Every night, after bedtime stories were read, we'd bring him into his room and rock him. Not to sleep, but it was just a quiet moment to share last thoughts, sing a few lullabies and sometimes just to hold each other closely, hearing only the breath between us.
This morning, driving to work, I realized that I had missed our last rocking chair moment. It snuck right by me when I wasn't paying attention. Since he got his new bed, I guess we changed our nighttime routine and we phased out the rocking. I immediately got a lump in my throat as I came to terms with the fact that I had completely missed one of my baby's last "lasts". I'll never get that moment back. It's gone forever.
Lasts don't only happen to children, they happen to us as adults too. Sometimes hitting us like a slap to the face, shifting our entire world. One of our co-workers recently lost a brother who was only nineteen years old. There is no way to ever prepare for someone that young and vibrant to leave us. But it brings us back to the "lasts".
We don't always know when our last conversation with someone will be. Or the last time we'll share a joke with them, or go fishing with them. It leaves us asking - what was the last thing I said to that person? It often makes us wish we could go back so we had a second chance at saying all the things we wanted to say had we known it was going to be the last time.
The truth of the matter is that we can't live our lives waiting for the inevitable "lasts" to occur because there is so much life that happens in the "in-betweens". I may have missed my baby's last cuddle in the rocking chair but there were hundreds of days that I spent holding him in that chair, staring at his beautiful sparkling blue eyes gathering memories that not even the "lasts" can take away from me. We may not always know when our last words to a loved one will be, but we can rest easy knowing that the thousands of conversation before, no matter how insignificant they were, were important and meaningful too.
Every moment, whether it's the first, the last or the in-between, is precious. So savour each one because you never know when it will be your last.