Yes, the year of “lasts” has been in full swing for a while now. By “lasts” I mean the last time to (fill in the blank) as the senior year goes by. “Lasts” to not apply just to school years however, they apply to all of us at all stages of our lives. “Lasts” deserve to be celebrated as much as “firsts” even if they are a bit more melancholy and bittersweet at times.
We all probably know the first man on the moon, but do any of us really know the last? He deserves some bragging rights too. Imagine him in a bar trying to impress someone…”yeah dude, I was the last guy on the moon, I turned off the lights and shut the door….no more moonies besides me and my fellow space cadets…” But seriously, Eugene Cerman was the last guy to put a footprint on that giant sphere of rock and dust so he should have a place in the history books too or at least be the answer to some trivia question.
My reason for writing this essay however (besides avoiding the tissue box) is to celebrate the passage of milestones. The “last” that inspired these words was my son’s last marching band performance at an away football game, my “last” to be the head chaperone after seven years of active duty. I will miss the friendships and the thrill of walking into a stadium on the tail end of 200+ uniformed teens. I won’t miss the cold or rainy nights, the hassles of scheduling volunteers and the unruly fans from the opposing teams. What I lose in relationships with other parents, I will gain in free time on Fridays to find other venues in which to foster new friendships. The “firsts” that lie ahead can be just as exciting to anticipate as the inevitable sadness that will surely send a stinger every now and then.
“Lasts” can be wonderful too, such as the last round of treatment for those who are sick, the last payment on a mortgage, or the last dirty diaper to change. “Firsts” can be painful as well, such as the first broken romance, the first fender bender, or the first child to leave home. My point being that we should not put one over the other as being happy or sad. Yes, my son’s last performance, last dance, and last show will be bittersweet, but for each of those, he will have a first performance, a first dance and a first show in a new place, at a new stage in his life. Case in point, my older son who had his first apartment, first job and first car all in one year, and he too passed through all the “lasts” only two years earlier. So as I rode my last school bus home last night (I could have done without the kids singing Christmas carols right behind me…) I expected to be sad, but I was not. I realized how many friends I had made, how many memories I helped to create and how I am leaving my job safely in the hands of another volunteer who will get to enjoy her son’s “firsts”.
We miss only what we allow ourselves to consider missing. We feel sadness if we only look at one side of the page. We look back way too often if we don’t consider what possibilities lay ahead as well. I bet old Eugene Cerman was not getting all melancholy about leaving the moon. He did a wonderful thing and a memorable thing thanks to the help of thousands of other people that made it possible even if nobody really remembered that it happened. Most likely, he was in that Apollo 17 capsule counting down the hours until he could hoist a cold one. So here’s to you “Geno” (his official nickname btw) for showing us all that somebody has to be last and that ain’t such a bad thing after all.
I considered entitling this “My last blog” but thought better of it for fear all 20 of you would abandon me thinking I had thrown in the towel. Sorry, the only towels I am throwing are the ones going into my washer. As my son’ last year of high school progresses, my last child at home continues to sprout larger and larger wings, and my last parental duties to a minor wind down, I look forward to the many, many firsts that will be coming along fast and furious over the years. Some will be good, some will be bad, some will be happy and some will be sad (sorry Dr. Seuss if I inadvertently plagiarized your words) but all will just be pieces and parts of the constant construction project we call daily life.