The Bigger Picture: How Can We Ever Know When It’s The Last Time?
Last night, my two girls decided they wanted to crash in bed with Mom and Dad. When we woke in the morning, groggy and cranky, my husband and I both complained about being kicked and cramped, covers stolen throughout the night, knees in our backs, feet in our faces. My son was blissfully asleep downstairs. My son would never climb into bed with us. I tried to remember when Adam became a really good sleeper. Was he 6? 8? 11? All of a sudden, my heart ached for that little boy in Spiderman pajamas who wanted to cuddle and demanded that we all watch Blue’s Clues together at 5:30AM. If I had known that the last time would be the last time, I would have cherished that snuggle.
What about the last time we see someone we care about? I think of my clique in high school. Girls that I saw almost every day for six years, with whom I shared my deepest teenage secrets, who meant more to me than anyone during that time in my life. Several have moved out of Los Angeles. Will I ever see them again? The last time I saw them … bumped into one randomly, another at a high school reunion … was that the last time? Should I have asked certain questions … taken a few pictures … savored the moment more?
When my husband and I got married we traveled around the world for months visiting places such as New Zealand, Southeast Asia, China and Southern France. Which places will I return to? Which won’t I? I find it odd, knowing that I likely won’t ever return to certain locales. My time is finite, and I know that, and some things are finished. I think of the night in my twenties that I totaled my Jeep Cherokee. I had no idea that night would be the last time I would drive it. The last day of my third pregnancy; why didn’t I savor that special day more? Make more of a mental imprint?
Is it important to preserve memories … or to be in the moment? I think it’s a mixture of both. I don’t think of myself as overly sentimental but I do several things to preserve my memories, and I believe they enrich my life. A year ago, I started a new Instagram account. Every day I post one photo. I capture fun times, not so fun moments and personal messages that I want to hold onto. Scrolling through the images, scanning one year in a few moments, reminds me what a rich, full life I have.
In contrast, we often spend so much time creating memories that we don’t appreciate the actual moment. Have you seen this hilarious clip by Louis K? I think about this a lot as we miss life in the process of trying to capture it.
On a recent family vacation, I realized that the moments that I am captured in photos are different from the moments that I truly savor. In social media, it’s biking in Sun Valley, horseback riding in Yellowstone, paddle boarding in Deer Valley.
Zion National Park
But there was a moment when we were driving through Wyoming, the fields seemingly stretched out forever on every side, listening to Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, the kids quietly playing cards in the back. My husband squeezed my hand and that was it, a moment, a feeling that I cannot capture on Instagram or Facebook or in our photo book when we return home, but it was perfect in that moment and I think I will remember it forever. Savoring the moment … how do we do that? How do I stop feeling annoyed when my covers are stolen night after night? How do I take a moment to treasure an ordinary lunch with my mom or weekend with friends? How do I make a point of cherishing the good, the bad, the realness?
Why does it matter if it’s the last time or the first time or a time in between? I want to savor it all.