THE LAST TIME

by Lisa Huddleston

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-16).

New parents spend lots of time and energy documenting the “firsts” in their children’s lives.  They buy special books to fill with dates, written memories, and pictures of Junior’s first steps, his first teeth, his first words, and so on, but not much notice is made of the “lasts.”  More than likely this oversight is because we are often unaware of when an event is a true “last.”  When was the last night I tucked my children into their beds and listened as they said their evening prayers?  When was the last time I brushed their hair or cut their food or helped them to sound out a new word?  These and many more “lasts” passed by with little fanfare as my three children grew into increasing independence and maturity. 

Today, however, I was aware of a last as I sat with my eighteen-year-old son for his, and my, last visit to the pediatrician’s office.  If you know Nick, I’m sure you’re already smiling at the thought of his six-foot-two frame crowded into the noisy waiting room with all the other “children.”  It was pretty amusing, but since this was the office that held his immunization record, it was the easiest place to have his college health forms completed.  But it was definitely the last trip I would make with one of my own children to this place, and I have to admit to feeling a little melancholy about it.  Nick will graduate this Saturday and head off to college this fall—the last of our children to take this big step.  Where has the time gone, and how did it pass so quickly?  Wasn’t it just yesterday that he was begging me to sing “Grandma’s Feather Bed” just “one more time” in order to put off actually lying down and going to sleep?  I’m literally shocked to find us here although my gray hair and Nick’s man-sized self tell me the time has come.

As I ponder these lasts with my children, I can’t help but think about the possibility that each day holds many more lasts in so many other relationships.  Today may be the last day that I can pray for my friend to accept Jesus.  It may be the last time I kiss my mother or the last time I tell my husband that I love him.  It may be my final opportunity to pet my dog’s graying head or my last chance to accept an opportunity that God has given me.  Each day holds a finite number of minutes which once spent are gone forever—unless they have been spent wisely by investing them in the future of the lives of those we love.

Despite my sighs and tears, which cause my family to smile and shake their heads quite often, I am thankful for this time to ponder these “lasts.”  I hope I will remember this thought next week after the graduation events are behind us and this momentous occasion too has passed.  I pray that I will be mindful of the time that is given to me and thoughtful of how to use it more wisely.  May I tell my family and friends that I love them.  May I make the effort to pray for them, to call or write, to go to lunch, or to pat a shoulder and give a hug.  May I make the most of each day so that I will not regret the evil of wasted time, as often filled by omission as commission, but rather rejoice in the memories that tomorrow will hold.  After all, it may be my last chance.

(I love you and am very proud of you, Nick.  Happy Graduation!)

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