Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Last Times

I had a chat conversation yesterday with my friend, Paul Carter.  Paul is one heck of an insightful guy and a great writer.  Sample his take on The Karate Kid, his greatest post ever in my mind, and see for yourselves: 
Paul asked me how I am doing, and I shared that I'm going through an every day struggle I doubt will ever end and that I don't even really want to end.  It's part of who I am already. 
He responded that he lost his best friend 25 years ago, at age 13, and that he has thought about this friend every week since. Here's what he wrote that really hit home:
"I don't think we ever think about the 'last times' with the people we love until there can't be any more last times:  the last time you hugged or kissed them; said 'I love you'; held hands; shared a smoke or a meal; went for a car ride; or thanked them for their friendship or love they brought to your life.  Yet later, when they are gone, those last times are all we can think about."
I attended a leadership program for the county I live in this past year.  One Friday each month, the thirty or so of us enrolled in the program met to learn about the pressing economic and social issues facing our community.  We concluded "Literacy Day" back in January by thinking of two literacy initiatives we would try to implement and writing them on a note card.  I wrote my two goals and turned in the card as instructed, not thinking about it much more through the rest of the program.  Graduation came and went amidst the blur of life's many obligations, and the note card faded from memory.  I opened my mail yesterday and... surprise, surprise... there it was:
I guess you'll have to turn your heads sideways to read it.  Ok, I admit, I made up #2 to fill the requirement.  I'm busy enough at work already.  But #1 was real.  I loved reading to Ruby.  Sometimes she sat and listened, pointing to images in her books, and other times she impatiently turned the pages, eager to finish and run off to play.  Either way, I wanted more time with her.  She was learning and growing, and she left way too soon.  Paul is right.  You don't think about the last time you read to your daughter until there are no more opportunities.  Then you obsess over it.  I don't have a picture of that, but I do have this:
It's the last photo I took of her before she got sick.  I had just finished feeding her her supper, and she was watching a show.  I know... I know... she's standing way too close to her little TV.  Sue me.  Take a look at where her hand is.  It's resting on my leg, just under the edge of my shorts.  She stood there like that through most of the show.  I guess it was comforting to her.  Maybe I had the room too cold.  I was scared to move a muscle; I didn't want this precious moment to end.  If I concentrate, I can still feel her little hand resting on my leg.  The pain of our last times is a lot more bearable than forgetting them.


  1. Knowing Paul Carter brought me here, and I just had to leave you a note. I lost my dad last October, and while that can't even begin to compare to losing a little one (I have a young daughter and son), the sentiments you express here still ring true to me.

    The day my father passed, I was with him at the hospital. As I stood at his bed, crying for what I knew was coming, he was aware enough to try to wipe my tears away and reassure and comfort me. He passed away that night, and I was with him when he left. It was very painful, but I never want to forget it, and I'm glad to have been there to hold his hand.

    So, thank you for putting this out there, and I wish you well.


    1. Thanks so much, Aaron. Share it if you like it. There's no point writing it if no one reads.