You don’t recognize the last time

My mom said to me once, “One day I picked you up and held you for the last time and I didn’t realize it.” That really stuck with me. Although I don’t have kids I realize how fast kids grow up and how one day you just stop picking them up. Or you stop holding their hand as you cross the street. They stop asking for bedtime stories.

It’s the same with losing someone unexpectedly or quickly. You always think back to the last time you saw them and how you didn’t realize it would be the last time. If you don’t get to say goodbye to that person you’re always left wondering if they knew how you felt about them. You regret not telling them something sooner, or more often.

Two days ago we had a scare in my family. My almost-sister-in-law went missing. (Well, we thought.) It turns out her phone had gone into airplane mode by mistake and she was at the office much later than normal. However, for about two hours my brother and I were thinking the absolute worst. I thought she had gotten into an accident or abducted by someone in the parking lot as she was leaving work. As I was silently praying that nothing bad had happened to her I was wondering if she knew how much I love her, and hoping that she did. 

When I was 15 a very good friend of mine passed away. The last time I saw him was at a high school football game and he was covered in blue paint to show school spirit. He came running up to me to give me a hug and I told him absolutely not was he hugging me with all that blue paint on him! My winter coat was brand new and I wasn’t going to risk my white coat + his painted blue body. That was the last time I ever saw him. If I would’ve known that would be the last time I saw him I would’ve let him cover me in blue paint. I would hope to God it would stain my coat so I could always have a piece of him with me. I would stare at his smile and the gap between his two front teeth and try to hold onto it forever.

My Great Uncle passed away and I had no idea the last song we danced to would be the last. I would’ve asked to dance for another song. Or possibly the whole night.

I would’ve asked my Grandparents more about their past and what they were like at my age. I would’ve asked to see more photos and have them tell me about their first kiss. I would ask what their parents were like.

I would’ve told people I love them more often. I would’ve, I would’ve, I would’ve.

So, all of this got me thinking. Why do we wait until it’s too late to tell someone how much we love them? Or to show them? Why not tell them right now? Today. Even if you think they already know. Even if you just told them an hour ago. Tell them why they’re important to you and that you couldn’t imagine your life without them. Pick up your little ones and hold them and squeeze them and snuggle them. Be grateful for the times they still want to hold your hand as you cross the street. Read the extra bedtime story, even if you’re exhausted. Take note. Because it won’t be like this forever.

Don’t leave the house without a hug or kiss and an ‘I love you’. Not even to go to the corner store. Because most of the time you don’t recognize the last time.

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