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The Last Time

Welcome to My Green Vermont - A Blog by Eulalia Benejam Cobb.
By Eulalia Benejam Cobb

The last time one of my daughters sat on my lap. The last time my father gave me a violin lesson. The last time I ran five miles. I think about these occasions but cannot remember them, because I didn’t know when the half-grown child, all knees and elbows, jumped off my lap (for my sins, I may have even asked her to get up) that she would never climb on again. I didn’t know as I wiped the rosin off my bow and put the violin back in its case that I would never again hear my father interrupt my playing with “That’s very nice. However…”—something that never failed to annoy me when he said it. I didn’t know, as I panted and stretched my sore legs, that I was experiencing my final runner’s high. And I didn’t know, on a chilly autumn night long ago, that I would never again hear my 90-year-old mother brag about the 25 clay flower pots that she had dragged indoors (all by herself!) to protect them from the coming frost.

Now, as the years gently coax me to give up one thing here, another there (no more hefting bales of hay, no more partying until dawn), I wonder about other “last times” to come. When will I fix my husband breakfast (something that, after close to sixty years, has lost some of its luster) for the last time? When will I take deaf, white-muzzled Bisou for her last walk? When will I last manage to sit in a full lotus? Will I look back and regret that I was annoyed about making breakfast because I wanted to stay longer in bed; irritated during the walk because it was hot or cold and she was taking forever to sniff the ground, the grass, the air; impatient with meditation and wanting to get on with my day?

Thinking about these things can, I admit, be depressing. But this kind of reflection also lends my days a bitter-sweet flavor, and allows me to approach activities that feel burdensome in a gentler frame of mind. I’m developing a kind of nostalgia for the present, simultaneously tasting its sweetness and its fleetingness. I try to walk the fine line between enjoyment of the moment and despair at its impermanence. I do the best I can.

12 Responses

  1. Love this. I have been thinking about this idea a lot recently. It tickles me that we are not aware of the lastness of events.

    Hello to Bisou. : )

  2. Lovely, Lali.

    I do think about this – my husband rides a bike to the grocery store – and worry that I will miss it.

    I gave that to Kary: she comments that it was only after her son (12) died that she was horrified she hasn’t spent every minute of his life with him; before that, she called her being a physician and a working mother them ‘becoming independent’ – and all three of her children were doing it fine.

    These are the human things. We only rarely know. I took my youngest to Mexico to see my dad and my family, and he was ailing, and I knew, when I gently hugged him goodbye, that it was the last time.

    I wasn’t there one last time for Mother – I saw her by iPad, and don’t know if she even knew it was me.

    Travel for me is a huge effort, and my family doesn’t really seem to get the total exhaustion of ME/CFS, so I do what I can.

    But I don’t allow myself to feel guilty.

  3. I have often thought about how we never realize when was the last time I picked up my son, my daughter? And when was the last time I took the stairs two at a time? Yet there is still much to enjoy and be grateful for and many things that are far from their last time. Thanks for the reminder, Lali.

  4. Your words resonated with me, Lali, for I had no idea it was the last time I would walk with Greta. It does indeed make you appreciate and be more aware of the present. Thank you for that.

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