On May 14, 2017, we hosted family for a Mother’s Day brunch. Matt ran to the grocery store to pick up the tomatoes I forgot. He texted me a bitmoji of himself holding flowers. It was our last Mother’s Day together.
The concept of lasts pops up on my Facebook feed every now and then, but almost always around Mother’s Day because it applies, usually, to kids. It’s the idea that it’s easy to remember and celebrate a baby’s firsts—first steps, first words, first smiles—but harder to remember the lasts. Those lasts sneak past your awareness, disguised to look like any other day. It’s only in retrospect, days or weeks or months later, when you realize that toddler hasn’t mispronounced I love you in a while, or that baby hasn’t fallen asleep on your chest lately. Usually, by the time you realize a last has passed, it’s too late to mark the date and the details are hazy. The exact way their voice sounded that last time has melted into the landscape of every other day, the way it felt when they tucked their head into the crook of your neck is a ghost of a memory against your cheek.
I often think of our lasts when looking back on our year in hope. I didn’t know it would be our last Mother’s Day together. Or birthday or anniversary or random Tuesday in June, for that matter. I didn’t know that I needed to savor every moment, pause the lightning fast speed of the day and commit every smile and bad joke to memory because we’d never get another.
In his book about grieving the death of his wife, C.S. Lewis wrote about the things he missed most, what he most wants back but could obviously never get. He ended the list with “the tiny, heartbreaking commonplace.”
I don’t remember the last time Matt smiled at me with that twinkle in his eye, the last time he played basketball with the kids, or the last time we sat side by side on the couch and texted funny bitmojis to each other. I wish I’d paid more attention to the lasts. But hope is a tricky thing for that reason. Too much hope and you don’t think: I should pay attention, just in case. Too much hope and “just in case” doesn’t enter into your vocabulary.
Today, May 14, 2018, marks 100 days. 100 days of firsts I never imagined. That means as of May 14, 2017 Matt and I had only 265 days left together. 265 lasts that I didn’t pay enough attention to.