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Last Times

Do you ever think that the moment you are in will last forever?
Those times when that baby just will NOT go to sleep.
That wailing of the sleepy child who just needs to submit and obey.
Those dirty diapers, endless laundry and why must they eat again!
You feel like these times will never end.
But they do.

So do the endless baseball games that seem to suck the very life out of you as you sit in the stands and sweat.
Or the Sunday morning rush to get everyone ready for church.
A neighbor, who was a great-grandmother, said, “These are the best times.”
After a pause, she added, “Because they are all under your roof and under your protection.”

I can’t say that those were my most favorite times. But they were all there with us.
I didn’t realize when the last diaper change came.
It just did.
Did I feel the loss?
Not at the time, for I was ready for the next stage.
(Or so I thought.)
I had been changing diapers and nursing for 20 years!

Nor did I realize exactly when I didn’t have to leave the house with a bagful of snacks, water and changes of clothes.
The boys were growing up. They could bring their own water and snacks.

I did notice when we went hiking that we didn’t have to carry them anymore. Nor a backpack loaded with everything. I just had my own water.
Nor were they far ahead of us. We didn’t have to remind them to stay where they could be seen. They came for the family time, not for the hike.
Walking without a purpose wasn’t what they wanted to do, but they were grown. They didn’t complain.

I knew, but not really, that it would never be the same when my first son left for school.
Weren’t they already gone a lot of the time?
Who would have thought that was the last time as little boys depending upon me?
But that event rent a hole bigger than my heart could take.

I braced myself for the next one, thinking stupidly that it might be easier, since we had already done this before.
But I was wrong.
How can my heart take it?

With each one, the time of preparation for me, seemed to get shorter and shorter.
They felt faster than they came!
Another wedding this year. 
How did we get a wedding a year for three years in a row!
My relationship with my married sons has changed.
I am not the only woman in their lives.
But I do love those other women!
It is no longer “family time,” fore some are always missing.
But I treasure these times still, missing those not here, but knowing these will leave soon.
Memories.

Our house is filled with twenty-five years of memories.
The garage door is dented by eight boys who had to ride down the hill before they know how to stop.
Or was that crash into the door intentional?

Animal pens constructed of wood, mellowed with age, chewed on here and kicked there by certain horses who had an attitude. 
Empty now as we clean up everything.

Twenty-five years is a long time in one place.
Memories.
Once important stuff, treasures needed for some reason, now tossed.
Stuff I saved for the boys, rejected by them. Why did I save it?
For me.
What is needed now?
I pack the hymn books. 
They bring back memories of singing. And lately as the boys learned to play the guitar, they played with me. 
Thought those times would never leave.
But the piano’s packed. The hymn books are boxed. The boys aren’t going with us.
Last times.

This kitchen was a gathering place.
The boys hovered around the coffee pot Saturday mornings talking as it finished dripping.
I'd listen to their banter, their plans, their adventures.
Listening as if I had lived them.
I sip my tea as I gaze to the mountains out my kitchen window. 
What a view!
The land has changed.
More people have moved to our hills.
Where once there were but a handful of lights shining at night, now the lights are almost uncountable.
Even our own land has changed.
The garden grew then shrunk as demands changed.
Fences were put up and taken down.
I thought I'd always hear that one rooster crowing in the middle of the night.
But even he is silent.
Gone.
The ducks, too, no longer shift and quack during the night giving that reassurance that all is well.
They were sold. 

The boys have put away their weedwackers, thinking they are finished.
Little do they know that it rains in OK and grass grows weekly when it rains.
But the picas and tar weed won't be there. 
Maybe we've seen the last of pokey's in our underwear and socks.
Now that will be a great last time!

Friendships were made.
Who knows how they first started.
How do you say, "Goodbye."
We talk of keeping in touch, but it won't be the same.
Last times.

I recently sat with a friend who lost her spouse to cancer.
She said she wasn't ready.
No one knows when it will be the last time.

I wonder if that was how Christ felt when he washed the disciples feet?
And ate the Last Supper.
Last times.
Things would never be the same after that night.
They’d be different.
One disciple would deny him.
Another betray him.
One would never be with them again.
But that last time was needed for them to grow. 
To become the people God wanted them to be.

I sigh.
Last times.
We leave the drive way of our home of twenty-five years.
The things are gone. Some moved to OK.
Other things never to be seen again.
Memories to remember, but not to hold onto.
Because if I hold to the past, my hands are too full for what God has for me today.
Last times are gone.
But better times are coming.
And God will be with me.
And that is enough.


How do you deal with last times?
 

That last paragraph left me with tears in my eyes, "Memories to remember, but not to hold onto. Because if I hold to the past, my hands are too full for what God has for me today. . . . And God will be with me And that is enough." I will hold onto these words in the days ahead. In fact I'm going to write them out to put where I can read them over and over. Thank you Sonya, and thank you for your visit today. But we still have time for another lunch before OK!

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I write about what matters...to you---
women, wives and moms---
about your family, faith and future.
I write about what's hard, what helps and what heals.
I show you how it's done. And not done.
I hold your hand as you find what matters to the Savior.
And let go of those things that mattered to you, but not to Him.
I write about what matters...to Him.
               Sonya Contreras

Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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