When You Don't Know It's The Last Time

Some thoughts on letting go.

Back in January, I flew to Chicago for a quick visit. I didn’t know it would be my last flight of the year.

As this strange pandemic season has progressed, other “lasts” have passed me by—often without my awareness that they were, indeed, lasts.

Because I changed jobs mid-year and am now facing a move, I realize that some of my “lasts” here locally have already taken place—many of them pre-pandemic.

The last time I sang with my church choir, for instance. A group of which I’ve been a member for decades.

I don’t even remember when it happened. What did we even sing?

There’s nothing to process because I wasn’t taking the experience in. I guess it was another normal day, with everything just sort of happening. Only now that I realize it was the last time do I want to gather the memory, wrapping it in gauze and tucking it away in a safe corner of my mind.

But I can’t. It’s already gone.

When we know something is the “last,” we tend to drink the experience in more deeply, pulling the emotions into our core and letting them settle in our bones.

What happens, though, when we don’t know it’s the last time?

The truth is, of course, we usually don’t know.

I lost a friend this year. She died unexpectedly in a car accident. I didn’t know the last time we chatted would be the last time—and I only “remember” what we discussed because there’s a digital record.

Scrolling back through our chat, I have regrets. Had I known, I would have asked a few specific questions. Said a few important things.

I thought they could wait.

Now here we are.

It’s a sobering thought. A convicting one.

Especially in a year like this.