The Last Times We Miss

My great-grandmother used to gargle with butter to stave off infections. One day, as my family and I were reminiscing about this and other fun quirks of our relatives, my sister said something remarkable: “You rarely know when it’s the last time, do you?”

She wasn’t talking so much about people dying, although that too can, sadly, happen anytime. It was more about the last time you sleep over at your grandma’s house, the last time you go to an after-school chess club, or the last time you see a friend because after that, they’ll simply no longer visit your town.

First times are always obvious. Our brains are extra alert, and we remember a great deal about them. Last times usually happen without our knowledge, so there’s no way we can try extra hard to commit them to memory. It is only years later that we might notice: “Oh yeah. I used to do this thing. When did I stop? And why?”

You can’t remember every last time like your first, but it helps to remind yourself that last times are always coming. Every now and then, consider that “this time might be the last,” and you’ll savor happy moments more, and with bad moments, you’ll be more forgiving.

One day you’ll no longer walk in on your great-grandmother gargling with butter, and whether you think that’s a good thing or a bad thing, it is a thing worth observing.