A list of lasts


Death and serious illnesses aside, letting go of what is certain is one of the hardest things I have had to deal with so far. Getting to the point when you start your list of lasts is never easy. It is actually a very complex process. Knowing that this is the last time you are doing something, makes an otherwise ordinarily mundane activity onto something beautiful and sacred. Suddenly, being stuck on traffic on your way home feels a bit less burdensome, doing grocery shopping at HEB feels like a pleasurable experience, and jogging around the lake near your house feels like an invaluable privilege.

But how do you get from one point to the other? From mundane and empty to unique and meaningful. And more importantly, how do you cope with it?

There is a thin, almost invisible, line that you cross once you are on a countdown. Is not yet the finish line, but it is the you-are-almost-there line. I believe that during this short stretch, things are made horribly sweet by the impertinence of finishing. You are almost there and then you stop in your tracks and think, This is it, this is what I have been preparing for! But you are not yet ready to let go. You cannot imagine what you are and what you have without the things that got you this far, let alone, what is after the finish line. But the length is so short and you have to keep moving and there is not time to assimilate what is happening, really. So logic goes out the window and you feel every raw emotion in your system. And the smalls joys that you overlooked along the way and the little comfort that some little things brought to your life are magnified. I would not say it is instant and recognizing it can take a few moments, but once you’re there, there is no going back.

So how do you cope with it? Here are my two cents on it… you don’t.

Of course, while you have got to move on, there are very few things I can think that can help cope with the feeling of closing a cycle or saying goodbye. Meg Fee said it best,  in life you “forgive the bathrooms you hid in crying, the thought of facing the world outside harder than you cared to admit;” you write thank you notes to clumsily recognize other people’s kindness; you make amends with others, and more importantly with yourself; you give a few heartfelt hugs that hopefully can encapsulate the affection you feel for your people, and then… you move on. Painful as it is, endless as it seems.

So in that moment when you have reached the long-desired and recently-dreaded finish line, all you can do is to take the things that have got you this far, the good and bad, and go into a new race with renewed hope that in this new journey you are about to embark, there will be new things that will propel you even forward. And know that these things of lasts may be gone but the growth, happiness, and memories that they brought to you during this period of time, will stay with you forevermore.

Notice the small things. The rewards are inversely proportional. – Liz Vassey

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