If you really think about it life is a series of firsts and lasts. More firsts at the beginning, more lasts as you go further along. Not all firsts are good and not all lasts are bad but on the whole, it’s the lasts that have been grabbing me by the throat lately.
The problem with lasts is that they’re far more likely to go unnoticed than the firsts. Makes sense, because we can’t see into the future to determine in real time whether some event was, in fact, the last time it happened.
Would it help to know, I wonder? Would I have attached more importance, remembered in more detail, the last time I had a long, meandering yet coherent conversation with my mother about everything that happened to occur to us while we were chatting on the phone now so many years ago? Did I even notice that it was in fact the last such conversation that I had with her? Alzheimer’s works slowly, so while subsequent conversations would not have been as logical, would have contained more questions asked several times over, more statements repeated, the conversations would still have been as rewarding, as valuable to me, if just a little “off”.
And, on the opposite end of the spectrum, when was the first time that something was “off”? Why didn’t I register that it was when it was?
Back to lasts, however, because, as I said: it’s the lasts that are biting me in the ass right now. Last Christmas marked the last Christmas I will have spent with both my parents together at either of our houses. My mom’s last birthday: ditto. Last dinner together, last walk, last vacation, last you name it.
There’s a limit to how consciously you can experience your life, and the moments in it. If you spent every moment of every day in the full realization that something could be a first or a last something (and not the kind we do pay attention to and celebrate or mourn because we know) you’d both exhaust yourself and drive yourself mad all at the same time. Also, you’d be living your life through the lens of anticipatory grief, which removes you from truly just experiencing your life in the moment.
Still, those lasts with my mom … I would have liked to have been prepared for some of those, and probably should have been. I wasn’t – maybe I was optimistic, maybe stupid, maybe just not ready and so opted to ignore it – and it’s going to take some time to come to terms with that.
2 thoughts on “First and Last”
Very thoughtfull !