The last times

Renae Brumbaugh Green
Renae Brumbaugh Green

Today is the last day of summer vacation. Today, in homes across the U.S., students will plan their lunches, pack their backpacks, and pick out their first-day-of-school wardrobes. Tomorrow morning, they will (hopefully) kiss their parents goodbye, rush out the door, and tumble in to a new year full of projects and possibilities. Some will feel thrilled, others sad.

At my house, today is the last day of that type of summer vacation, ever. Tomorrow, FJ begins his senior year, and I’m feeling more than a little nostalgic.

We’re headed into a year of last times. And while it carries with it some sadness, at least we know it’s a last. The calendar issues a warning, so we don’t let anything slip by. Senior pictures. Senior prom. All those things that signify the end of a school-age era.

At least I can have the camera ready this year. But what about all the last times that have come and gone, and I don’t prepare for it? What about all the things that slipped by, and I didn’t know to savor them?

When was the last time I changed each of my children’s diapers? When did they last sit in a high chair, or use a pacifier? When did I last stay up all night with a crying, teething baby?

When did my daughter last play with her Barbie house?

When did I vacuum up the last Lego, clogging the vacuum? When was the last time each of my children watched Blue’s Clues or Dora the Explorer?

And when did I last shop in the kids’ clothing section?

When did Charis last wear ruffles and tights? When did Foster last wear his Superman cape?

When did I pick up the last toy train?

When did they last hold my hand in the parking lot?

I don’t know the answer to any of these questions. If I had known, I’d have taken a little more time to savor, to cherish the moment. I’d have documented it some way. I’d have taken a picture for the scrapbook.

Unfortunately, these moments come and go without fanfare. They just happen, and then they quit happening, and one day we wake up and wonder where the time went.

I guess that’s why we need to treat every moment as if it might be the last. We need to linger. We need to really look the people we love in the eyes when they talk to us, and listen with our full attention. We need to speak gentle, encouraging words, and make sure the people around us know how special they are.

Though we can’t live our lives in a weepy, “this-might-be-the-last-time” way, we can make every moment count. We can make sure we don’t pass up any opportunity to live out our greatest purpose, which is to love each other. When we do that, we can move through those moments and days and years and last times with no regrets.

Renae Brumbaugh Green is a bestselling author and award-winning humor columnist. She lives in Stephenville with her handsome, country-boy husband, nearly-perfect children, and far too many animals. Connect with Renae at