Sometimes lasts are a welcome relief. The last winter we had to live in Minnesota. The last day I had to live in that small town that was so lonely for me. The last day on a job that was so hard to go to everyday. The last day of college classes because you are finally done studying and can get out into the grown-up world.
Some times the lasts are bittersweet. I don't remember the last time my little daughter reached out to hold my hand. I don't remember the last time my little son wanted to watch me put on my makeup. When did my babies last crawl or call for me in the middle of the night? When was the last day they went running to the door when their daddy got home from work? I kept a calendar the first two years of their sweet little lives and wrote down their firsts. Their first tooth, first bottle, first steps, first words, etc. I don't have a calendar of their lasts. Those lasts sneak up on us and go by unnoticed as time marches on.
Maybe that's a good thing because sometimes those lasts can be super painful and if we knew they were coming it would be unbearable.
Like what I've experienced lately.
My parents are in the process of moving to North Carolina. They have lived in Iowa their whole lives except for a few years in the Air Force when they were first married. But now they want to be closer to my sister's family.
I've come to realize that the last time I was in Iowa, two plus weeks ago, was the last time I will see them in the house they have lived in since I was eleven years old. I'm feeling like it's the last time I will ever be in that house and that is very painful for me. I did some serious growing up through my teenage years and college year summers in that house. I lived there longer than any of my siblings. My parents have thrown a lot of parties in that house celebrating graduations, engagements, weddings, birthdays.
The thing with lasts is they sneak up on you and sometimes you don't realize it and you don't get a chance to process and try to comes to terms with it and before you know it, it's done and gone. I thought I would have a chance to do that, but it seems like things are moving along faster than anyone told me, than I thought they would. How did I know that last Christmas was the last one I would ever celebrate in that house? I didn't get a last chance to go through the rooms and see if there are some treasures that time forgot. I won't say I didn't get to at all, because the last time I was there I found a vinyl record of my high school senior year variety show I had forgotten about. How many more of those types of things are there? I'll never know. I didn't get a chance to go room to room and play the memory tapes of the past, of my high school friends hanging out with me in the kitchen, of my date sneaking a kiss in the garage, of my husband and I talking in the basement the day before our wedding, of my son's second birthday party there, of my daughter learning to use a fork or hiding her peas in her glass of milk, of my nieces and nephews sliding down the stairs, of all the kids sledding in the backyard, of my parents at the front door waving good-bye.
Forty-three years of memories. Done. My heart is grieving.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8