On the Fleeting Nature of Things

Sometimes we know when it will be the last time we ever do something. Parent teacher conferences were Thursday, and I’ll never meet with a parent to discuss his child’s progress again. Institute Day was Friday, and I’ll never have to sit through hours of tedious in-service again. Valentine’s Day was last month, as everyone knows, and I’ll never have the chance to make valentines, or receive them from my class, again.

But, sometimes we don’t know when it is the end of something. When was the last time I ever wrote with a piece of chalk on a blackboard? Used transparencies on an overhead projector? Ordered films which came in tin canisters and had to be threaded reel-to-reel? More importantly, when was the last time my son jumped into my arms where I then shifted him onto my hip for easier holding? When was the last time I drove through Paris, or kissed my first husband, or played a Bach fugue on the piano with authority?

Billy Graham’s funeral was yesterday in Charlotte, North Carolina, and his children will not see him again as long as they are on earth. He made it to his last destination. And I am considering good-byes today. Remembering, or trying to remember, all the things which have passed by or transitioned into something new. Thinking about all the things of which I will have to let go.

Probably it is healthiest to welcome the changes that have come into our lives. But I am a nostalgic person by nature, and I am sad about things gone by to which I never had the chance to say farewell. I never had the sense to know it would be the last time.