I’ve gotten really good at celebrating “the last time”. I think it’s because I have lived a life (especially the last couple years) where I have HAD to celebrate those milestones in order to give closure to short chunks of seasons in my life.
I can tell you about the last optional chicken sandwich Friday in Malaysia with the 112 or the last time Veracity ate breakfast at Ana’s table in Ecuador.
I can tell you about the last time I took a bucket shower or hand washed my clothes (both in Cambodia).
The last coffee I had from Maria’s or the last time I watched the sun come up over the Mediterranean.
I can even tell you about the last time I sang together with the Vanguard Women’s Chorus. And that was almost ten years ago.
I love celebrating last times. Closing chapters, turning pages. Making an end. Telling people what they mean to me and telling them thank you.
And that’s how I know how it ends.
But what if you don’t know something is the last time?
Like, for instance, I didn’t know that the last time I took the bus to Fuengeriola and the hot bus driver was our driver (his name is Miguel) that it would be the last time I got a little rearview smolder.
Or that the last time I went to Starbucks with Joe would be the last time I ever went to Starbucks with Joe. And I didn’t know the next time I would see his face would be on a program for his funeral.
It’s crazy when you hit this moment and look back and realize that something was the last time and you didn’t get a chance to treat it like that.
The past three weeks I’ve been working at the preschool. I’ve had a lot of amazing conversations, gotten to hug the necks of a lot of moms whom I adore, and gotten to see how their adorable kiddos have grown. It was a whirlwind as I’d only been home from Spain for 2 weeks when I started.
There was all the normal questions, “What are you doing next” “Where have you been?” “Are you staying?” and of course “Can you babysit?”.
But the one question I got from close friends and people whom I trust was this: “Are you going to go see Sam?”
Sam (whose name ISN’T Sam, I just changed it) was my therapist. I saw Sam regularly from February 2009 to December 2012. I sat on the couch in his office week in and week out. I didn’t cry much, but I did fight a lot of battles in that tiny room. He walked me through a lot of hell, and when it comes down to it was probably one of the first men I ever allowed myself to place trust.
When I got home from the World Race I freaked out. I had a slight panic attack seeing all of the things that had changed. My world had shifted and moved and I didn’t know how to deal. So I grasped at the one thing in that space that I knew to grasp.
I made an appointment to see Sam.
Did I really need to see him?
Probably yes. I needed something to ground me. And for 4 years that space and that place had grounded me. And it did help; momentarily. It reminded me of where I had come from.
When I got back from Spain, I assumed a little bit that I might need to go see him. That I would need that affirmation or even need to tell him I was good.
To tell him I TRUSTED.
But as more and more people would ask if I was going to I realized I was ok.
More then ok actually.
I knew what to grasp at.
I KNOW what to grasp at. And it isn’t even like I’m having to consistently grasp. I’m more or less just steady. But when I do need to grasp; I know where to go.
When I happened upon that revelation, that I didn’t need to see him I had another revelation. The last time I saw him was the last time I would sit on that couch. The last time I would sit slightly anxious with a pillow in my lap.
And since I didn’t know it was the last time: I have never told him thank you.
And though he may never ever read this I just have to say:
Thank you for helping me walk through some of the most treacherous four years of my life. Thank you for talking me off of a ledge metaphorically and literally. Thank you for helping me laugh through tears and helping me realizing what my story actually meant. Thank you for being the beginning steps for me to show up to my life.
And thank you for following up my email with a phone call back in February 2009.
We don’t always know when something is the last time. And that’s ok. I’m not saying to live every moment like it’s your last because then honestly we get into this crazy, sometimes irresponsible mindset. But I am saying this:
Write. Document. Know. Make MEMORIES.
Show up to your life.
You will never have to live in regret or wishing you hadn’t done or said something. You can find ways to say them or you can know in some way you already did.