The Last Time
Life, loss, and powerful lessons.
Posted Mar 24, 2020
“I know you’re busy, so we will just drop these things on your porch and be on our way.” These were the words my mom shared with me less than 48 hours before she died. I had been working all morning and was barely hanging onto my sanity as I faced the darkened pit of technology hell. When the phone rang, I barely shifted my focus from the screen that had hijacked my attention to the device in my hand. I heard her voice, somewhat apologetic, stating she didn’t want to interrupt me. She was going to stop by, but she didn’t expect to visit. “We are going to be out and about anyway. We won’t even ring the bell.” Eyes glued to the computer screen, I muttered an acknowledgement and hung up the phone. She understood from our earlier text exchange that I was reaching my stress threshold, so our conversation was brief. I wish I had known the significance of that call, the significance of that day, but I didn’t. I didn’t know that would be the last time she would come to my home. I didn’t know that would be the last time I would hug her. I didn’t know that would be the last time she would hear me say “I love you”. I didn’t know.
When I was a young college student, she occasionally sent cards through the mail with a few dollar bills taped to a handwritten note instructing me to “treat myself to a soda”. When I was a young mom, she came over to play with the baby so I could take a shower and get some rest. When my growing family was struggling financially, she brought bags of groceries to fill my pantry and freezer. When I was overwhelmed and trying to juggle family and career responsibilities, she prepared homemade meals for us. When I was struggling through health crises, she answered all middle-of-the-night calls and talked me off the proverbial ledge. She was always there, continually looking for opportunities to help, and forever sharing love and kindness.
Every time I recall the events of that day, I realize just how very blessed I was. Despite the technological chaos I was facing, I listened to my inner voice. I gave way to the insistent push to stop what I was doing and take notice. When I saw the car turn into my driveway, I walked out to greet them. I stood by the car and we visited for nearly 20 minutes. I heard her voice, looked into her beautiful brown eyes, and enjoyed her lovely smile. I hugged her several times, expressed my gratitude, and told her I loved her. As the car backed up and then drove away, I waved goodbye. I didn’t know that would be the last time – our last time together.
In this time of social distancing and sheltering in place, many individuals are grieving losses they didn’t expect - the old routine, the mundane activities of daily life, the milestones they will never experience in the ways they expected. They yearn for the usual interactions with family, friends, and co-workers, they long for the lifestyles to which they have become accustomed, and they wish for the time when they had the luxury of taking things for granted. Some are grieving loved ones. Some are grieving circumstance. All are grieving loss.
As we face the challenges in the days, weeks, and months ahead, take a cue from my mom. Pay attention to those around you. Look for opportunities to share love and kindness. Prioritize relationships over things. Listen. Be present. Be intentional. Above all, be grateful for every moment. Embrace each as if it were the last.
Copyright Linda Seiford, Ph.D.