A warning label. You know…something that forewarned us about what was going to be next. Like the label on your shirt that says, wash in cold water to avoid shrinking. Or the label on the screen window that says, will not stop a small child from falling out. Okay, so maybe those labels seem to warn about the obvious, but there is a place in my life that I could have used a few helpful warning labels.
Actually a handful of warning labels handed to me on the day I gave birth to my children, would have been perfect. Not warning labels about what I should watch out for, because there is something grand about the element of surprise…like the first day they learn to walk or ride down the street on their bike…but a warning label that would identify the last of things.
As we round the corner of senior year, I find myself walking slowly to each event, in hopes of elongating the getting there part, so the actual event ending, will be further away as well. I find myself questioning if this is the last….
Some lasts are obvious. The last final, the last game, the last prom, the last day of high school. We can mark those on the calendar well in advance and then plan for them accordingly, even marking the days as we go. We can come prepared mentally as we charge the batteries on the video camera, and the regular camera, wear some waterproof mascara, invite family and friends to witness the excitement and even create a celebration around it. We can drag it out and watch it again, if we know it is coming.
But what about those other lasts? The ones that were actually the ‘last’ but you didn’t know…because there were no warning labels. Maybe I could have planned better with more preparation, or celebration or at least savored it a little longer…if only I had known.
I wish I could even remember the last time his hand slipped from my grip. I wonder what I was thinking. Was it me that pulled my hand from his? Was he heading off somewhere or were we just trying to be separate? I wonder what I would have done differently if I had known it was going to be the last time…would I have held on longer?
How about the last time he said, ‘hey mom…look at me!’ I can’t remember when the last time was, but I can still hear his little voice so vividly. His yearning for me to share his moment, his act, his life. When was that? It’s so long ago it feels like a different lifetime. What made the last time, the last time? Was I not paying attention? Did I look uninterested? Or was it just time for him to find others to watch him in his life.
I wish there were more warning labels: last hug in public, last time for date night at the movies, last time racing me across the pool, last time wanting me to sit and watch him practice, the last time he smiled at me and still thought I was cool…
Maybe I wouldn’t have done anything different even with the warning. Maybe I would have simply nodded and understood it was time. But I sure do walk slowly to the field these days, happy to share his moment, his act, his life…even without him saying, ‘hey mom…look at me!’
Perhaps it’s good that there are no warning labels, because I can hear my little voice now begging, ‘no…please….not yet. I’m not ready for this to be the last one yet.’ Perhaps that’s why it’s so important to stay present in each moment, because we really never know when the last one will be…