first time last time

Do you remember the first sight of your newborn’s face? Your first kiss? The first day in a new home? The first day of retirement? It is easy to recall many “first” times because we know in advance that it will be a first.

But it’s not as easy to remember and appreciate “last” times since, when it’s occurring, we may have no clue that it’s the last time.

The year my little girl left “new doll” off her Christmas list, I cried. Literally. Wait, how could she possibly be too old for a doll? If I had just known the prior Christmas that it would be the final year for a doll…What? What could I have done differently? Nothing. She would still have matured her way out of wanting a doll over the next twelve months, just as it should be.

The last words I hollered downstairs to my son were in frustration. “Tim, please—for the third time—turn down the tv. I have an early day at work tomorrow.” How I wish my final words to him might have been ones of love. If I had just known those would be my last words to him…What? Nothing would have changed. He would be just as gone from this earth, and anyhow he surely knew how much I loved him.

The in-between times, not the first and not the last, are the moments that comprise our present. They may not hold the joy of first times or the sadness or poignancy of last times. We may take our in-between times for granted, complain about them, wish they could be different or more exciting, and sometimes waste them away instead of appreciating them.

Last Tuesday as I was rocking Baby Girl (now 20 months old) and whispering our special stories in anticipation of getting her to take a good nap, she fell asleep in my arms. It has been a while since that’s happened as she’s gotten older. Sometimes she’ll reach back and pat my face while I whisper stories. Other times she may hold up an arm while I’m mid-sentence and then poke a finger into one of my ears and laugh. I believe this is to let me know that she’s still awake.

But on Tuesday, she gave me that lovely gift of falling asleep in my arms. I held her long after the third story’s final words of “Good night noises everywhere.” I savored that moment because I understood that it may have been the last time this sweet event may occur.

It was a perfect reminder to myself to be mindful and appreciative of all my in-between times, never knowing when one of them may become the last time.


Roberta Flack’s live 1975 performance of The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face