The last time I went home to South Dakota on a brutally cold New Year's Day, I remembered the first time I drove home on my own from New Mexico, how worried my parents were as I travelled the long distance alone in my old car, and how tears flooded my eyes as I crossed the river into Dakota and knew that at last I had come home.
The last time I held my now taller-than-me son close as we parted I remembered the day he took his first breath and I first held him in my arms. He has always been the sweetest, gentle soul. I am amazed at the caring, confident man he has grown up to be.
The last time I spoke with my daughter as she moves forward into a new chapter of her life, I remembered the first time we were far apart and I wanted to be there to keep her safe from harm. I listen to the new-found strength and determination in her voice, and I realize how far she has come.
The last time I went home while my mother was still alive, I remember he face in the kitchen window when it was time to leave and I drove away. It was the same as it had been the first time I left, and every time after that. I didn't really understand her tears then; now I am a mother with grown children that live far away, and when we part I cry.
The last time I saw my father I remembered the big, imposing figure he was in my childhood and the first time I ever saw him cry. It was so painful to see how fast he was fading, and to know it would most likely be the last day we would share. Then it was my turn to cry.
The last time I held Stormy gently as he slipped gently from life into the spirit world, I remembered the first day we brought him home as a newly-weaned kitten with ears way too big and tufts of fur between his toes. Stormy shared my life for the next sixteen years as we survived the worst of times and came to treasure our life together in the very best of times. Apart from me, he was the only one who knew the whole story of those years, when he departed he took my secrets and a piece of my heart.
The last time I looked at my husband, his eyes bright with humor and love, I remembered the first time I saw him almost six years ago. I knew then that I was taking my first steps into a life far different than anything I had ever experienced or could imagine. I am even more in love with him today than I was yesterday.
Life is all about change, nothing stays the same forever. There will always be first times and last times, new adventures and treasured memories. We can fear change, we can run from it, we can futilely attempt to avoid it, or we can embrace it and step boldly forward with hope that the best is yet to be.
This essay was written for Two Shoes Tuesday
where the theme choices this week are first and last