The Last Time Ever I Saw Your Face

We are always marking firsts.  The first time a baby rolls over.  The first steps and words of our children.  Seldom, do we remember the lasts.  The primary reason for this is that we usually do not know their dates and times.  Occasionally, we understand the advent of last moments, but it is more common for us to regretfully recall the last chance.  One day, you lowered your child to the floor never to heft her again. 

Having been bedside in the last earthly moments of many lives, I know firsthand the pain of missing lasts.  In my experience, firsts are not recalled as often as are endings.  People will speak of their last remembrances and lost time.  A dying wish may be to see a person or place once more.  As surely as we do not know the second advent of the Son of God, we do not know the last appearance of meaningful things in our lives.

We are always intending to do things.  Let’s do lunch!  See you soon!  By never setting the day or the hour, good intentions pave the way to loss and perdition.  We don’t know when the end will come, and opportunities be lost.  However, as surely as it is not possible to leave this life without missing chances, it is possible to live this life making the most of choices.

Perhaps, we can resolve not to leave things undone.  Tighten up loose ends.  We don’t do well with too many balls in the air, and efficiency in efforts may help us be less regretful.  The poet instructed us to make the best use of efforts on our single lap around the track, and Solomon said we can’t do anything at all after death.  While there is life, there is hope, but we’ll not crack corn when we are gone.

If I keep accounts tidy the sorrow of parting may hold sweetness amidst the grief.  Recognizing the frailty of life and numbering our days will teach wisdom.  Many times, I’ve steered my car away from warm and loving climes knowing in my heart that I would never return.  Ahead of me lay dark night and unseen dangers.  All that was left was memory.  The last time together.

Over the years, I have pondered what happened in the lives of once-loved ones.  I wondered if they ever thought of me.  We drifted away like leaves in the fall.  The sidewalk ended and we ventured out into the unknown.  Some of us alone.

Heaven is often seen as a great gathering of friends and family beyond the confines of this life.  The cloud of witnesses to Christ will gather in the hereafter where there are no lasts or endings.  But that day is not today.  Today, on this earth, we are finite.

The next time I see you may be our final meeting.  With this in mind, I hope to greet you with joy and leave with fond remembrance.  Uncertainty is our bane but need not steal our blessings.  Though we have regrets, may they be too few to mention.

We need not fear the future, and we need not rue the past.  I want to make the most of the time I have and savor each moment.  As much as lies in me, may I enjoy the present circumstances and company.  This could be the last time.  This could be the last time.  Maybe the last time I don’t know.

Sterl

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