Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Times of Our Lives - First and Last

There are some memorable times in our lives. First times stand out: the first time you rode a bike totally on your own, your first kiss, the first time you made love, the first time you held your newborn baby.

Then there are the last times -- some we recognize at the time and some we don't.

Some last times are clear in my mind.

Like the last time I walked through our Valencia home. Or the last time I left my office at UCLA. The last time I took the commuter bus and said "Goodbye" to all my commuting friends. The last time I took a curtain call as an actress. Or the last time I cuddled my beloved cat Marina, feeling her sweet, joyous, tragically short life ebbing away.

There are other last times I remember so well when I didn't know it was the last time: like the last time I saw my college friend Lorraine. As we parted, she embraced me and whispered in my ear "Let's not wait another 20 years to see each other again." Six weeks later, she died suddenly at the age of 42.

I remember the last time I saw my mother. Bob and I had lunch with her as she discussed old boyfriends and said that if she could lose weight, she'd love to have a torrid affair, but would never, ever get married again. The memory makes me smile. It was such a typical conversation, such a typical time with my mother. None of us had any idea that the next day she would be dead.

Nor did I suspect that Aunt Molly was only days away from death when I held her in my arms and promised to do all I could to keep her in her home if, well into the future, she were to become ill or disabled.

If I had known these were the last times I would see Lorraine, my mother and Aunt Molly, would I have embraced them more tightly? Held them longer as we parted? Been more open in telling each of them how much they were loved? Maybe. But some of the sweetness of the memories of these last times was that they were so ordinary and might have been quickly forgotten if not for what came after.

There are other last times that pass unnoticed and unremembered.  When was the last time I danced on pointe? My last real tap dance? The last time I attended Mass with an open and joyous heart?

I wonder about other last times: the last time I'll go to the beach, the last time I'll make love, the last time I'll fly, the last time I'll feel the comfort of Bob's arms, the last time I'll see little (or not so little) Maggie? Will I know this is a last time? Or will it be an ordinary moment destined to live in bittersweet memory? Maybe some of these last times have come already. I hope that most of them are years in the future.

We never know about so many of our last times. But in the still warm autumn of our lives, perhaps the lesson is to embrace each person we love, each experience we cherish, each little moment in our lives fully -- as if this could well be the last time -- and feel the joy, savor the moment and say "I love you!" as often and fervently as we possibly can.


  1. When I was growing up--in grade and high school--Mom insisted always that my brother and I kiss her good-bye when we left for school. Even if we had to keep the country bus driver waiting. She said, "You just never know what might happen today."

    If Dad were home, he, too, was kissed and wished "Good-bye."

    I think Mom was helping both my brother and me realize that life is fleeting and unexpected. I've tried never to forget this.


  2. Bravo! Precisely because we do not know what the future holds, I feel we should squeeze the life out of each moment, and try as hard as we can not leave even one once of living out of it. Very moving post!

  3. Good food for thought here. Too bad some of our last times do pass without fanfare.
    I too have many that I wish I had known and you are so right. If we treated more moments as "last times", we would have no regrets. A lofty goal we should all work harder towards.
    Arkansas Patti

  4. Great post! If I had known it was the last time I wouldn't have been in such a rush.

  5. Thanks so much for your kind and insightful comments, Rosaria, Cherrie, Patti, Shelly and Dee!

    As Rosaria says, each moment is precious.

  6. What a wonderful post -- it reminds me of my last times -- some of which I knew and some of which I didn't. There are the ones I'd give anything to have one more bit of time. Doesn't happen. But I find this so thought-provoking. Cherishing the moment -- that's it for sure.

  7. Perhaps there's still another curtain call in your future...

    Jann aka #1Nana

  8. I enjoyed this post very much. I might even copy the idea and do some thinking about the subject matter myself.

    It's all so easy, isn't it, if we live consciously, whether for the first or the last time. The most homespun wisdom is so often the one that says it all.

  9. Nicely put. I lost a number of loved ones when I was seven, and I've ben considering the brevity of our time here ever since. You just never know...


  10. Very true. We can only cherish each moment as there are given to us. Too often we take them to much for granted.

  11. You made some good points here. We just really have to focus on the moment we have together with loved ones. Today is my anniversary and what do I know if next year we´ll still be together?? We need to be more aware of the blessings we have. Thanks for reminding us!

  12. I think each time we part from our loved ones, we should hold them long enough that we will know that it was enough if we never see them again. Life has taught me that.

  13. Thanks for your kind comments, Jeanie, Jann, Friko, Pearl, Betty and Sally. Life has painful lessons for us all. Sally and Rosaria, I especially appreciate your comments as I know your losses are so recent and overwhelming. Love and blessings to you both.

  14. Your post really brought a lot of last time memories back to me again. I have often thought of these moments wondering if I had known would they have been different.
    Thanks for such thought inspiring writing you share on here with all of us.
    Would love for you to be a Blogazine guest on my site so all my sweet friends could find your site.
    They would love you as I do.

  15. Thanks so much, Maggie! I'd be thrilled to be a Blogazine guest on your site. I really appreciate your kind comments!