Is This Our Last?
My parents just bought a new car. I was with my father when he signed the papers. As we walked out to take a look at his new purchase, I heard my dad say something, half to himself, that caught me off guard:
“This will probably be the last car we own.”
My folks are both 76. Taking into account the realities of human longevity, my dad was probably right. But it was an idea I was not ready to consider: My parents won’t be here forever – probably not even much longer.
This reality check on the Toyota lot reminded me of a message I had heard years before. The speaker had identified three phases in our life: the “Firsts,” the “Sames,” and the “Lasts.”
The “Firsts” cover roughly the first third of life: Your first day of school. Your first best friend. Your first crush. Your first job. Your first (hopefully only) spouse. Your first place. Your first child. These are exciting years – the springtime of life.
The “Sames” is about just that: You find yourself waking up next to the same spouse in the same house. Getting the same kids to school before driving the same car to the same job. Hopefully, you make time to see the same old friends now and then. “Maturity” might not seem as exciting as youth, but the predictability and stability of the “Sames” brings a new kind of satisfaction.
Then, at some point, you enter the “Lasts” phase: the hardest for any of us to confront, or even acknowledge. The last time you physically carry your child to bed. The last graduation you attend. The last day at your job. The last conversation you have with your best friend. The last time you hug your mother or father. The last words you speak. The last beat of your heart.
One painful truth of life is that the “Lasts” invade much sooner than any of us prefer or expect. Often – usually – we don’t realize when a conversation or a hug is the last one we’ll get to enjoy.
As I see it, there are two take-aways here. One is that you should consider whether this short trip through the “Firsts,” “Sames,” and “Lasts” is all you get. Is there such a thing as an afterlife – as eternal life – as John 3:16 promises? (I believe so.) If another world exists, it certainly is worth looking into.
The other lesson is to cherish the people and the opportunities you have right now, before they’re gone. Before the same becomes the last.
Life is far too short to worry about expanding waistlines, receding hairlines, petty quarrels, old grudges, or the mistakes you have no doubt made along the way, like everyone else. I hope to see many of you – my “same old” friends – at this year’s reunion. And I pray it won’t be our last time to laugh and reminisce.
– Chris Ross