At Last

Let Me Hold You Longer, Karen Kingsbury

Stephanie Morgan brought me a book by that title yesterday at Starbucks. The premise of the book, the author explained, is that in life, we record and particularly note and celebrate all sorts of firsts.  There is a baby’s first tooth, first steps, first day of school – all beautiful milestones that deserve our attention!  Yet, we are unaware of the things that pass, last things.  She explained it by recalling a beautiful day outdoors with her kids when one of the little guys ran up, jumped into her arms, wrapped his legs around her waist and while touching noses told her, “I love you, mommy.”  She noticed how big he was getting and how heavy he was, realizing he probably wouldn’t be doing that too much longer.  Then she looked across the lawn and saw her oldest son who was about to enter middle school and realized that he used to run and jump into her arms the same way and that at some point it had been the last time.

And the thing about last times is, you usually just don’t know they are happening, and if you did, you might want to take closer note.

Of course, I read the book and it killed me.

O my goodness. I tried to tell Stormie about it when she came by earlier today.  Cry.  *Sniff, sniff. And to be silly and try not to be all melancholy, I grabbed Gavin, who was here helping us take down our Christmas decorations and cuddled him on to my lap like I have been doing since June 2003 and kissed his cheek and he is getting so big.  At 8 1/2 he doesn’t quite melt into his Nonna’s lap anymore (he just told me he has an adult-sized head).  He still likes the attention, but is slightly embarrassed.  And I jokingly said, “Everybody remember this in case it is the last time.”

There was practically a boooo and an eye-rolling moan from everyone, but also a palpable realization that this – this moment, this totally open relationship between a little boy and his Nonna, is a relationship that will grow and change and be re-defined as he becomes who God created him to be and has to pull away to become independent before he can, with full confidence in who he is, move back in closer with appreciation for these two old people who have loved him since the day he was born.  And there is realization that time is flying and kissy-cheeks from Nonna, at least in their present, freely-flowing form, are making their way into a land of remember-when-memories.  And growth is good and the destination is the point, but it changes everything you love in the moments that make life worth living to begin with.  Nothing stays the same.

The first time

I don’t recall, though I love baby’s feet, when the last time I kissed the bottoms of my children’s feet was?  I know I kept kissing them, even when they were “too old” for it because it made them laugh and I wanted them to know I adored them all the way from the bottoms of their little feet.  They weren’t babies in age, but they were my babies.  I can’t remember the last time I braided my little girls’ hair (I remember combing long, silky locks – or terrible tangles…lots of them) or what year I quit weaving red ribbons into their braids at Christmas?  In my ornament box, I found a note my mom tucked into the branches of our Christmas tree in 2001…was that my last Christmas with my mom?   I don’t know when the last time we sang “Testify” together at some church or played Risk as a family or any other number of mundane things that make up life.  When was the last time Tara baked Jiffy pizza-bread sticks, anyway?

Lasting impressions

I do know the book struck a chord, something deeply reverberating through my heart.   I am past the halfway mark now, but my senses and ability to feel love have increased exponentially with age, with experience.  When the years rolled out ahead like there was no end in sight, I didn’t have to be as cautious in gathering memory, in recording the story, in remembering.  But now that the lasts are happening, I don’t want to miss anything, not one thing.

2011 ~ 2012

One year rolls into another.  And the year we have just lived, all the beauty and joy and ups and downs and round-abouts and surprises and laughs, the tears, the disappointments, the things that did not go our way – all of it, with the slightest move of a second hand on a clock becomes {*tick} last year, {*tock} a new year.

The days ahead

We get this brand-spanking-new-year in just a few hours.   It will be filled with so much yet-undiscovered adventure.  I am hoping for 3 new grandbebes in 2012 – or at least some good work toward that!  *smile.  And I am excited to see what God is going to do through Heaven Fest this year and the songs I have yet to sing and the seasons changing and the garden tomatoes filling my counters and time with the love and watching the incredible lives of my children whom I cherish and the children they share…but like the author of the book, my prayer is, even as each day brings new things in a new year, “Let me hold on longer, God, to every precious last.”

This was totally unrelated

Gavin took a quick break from Christmas packing-away for a snack.  I turned on the TV and an old Rockford Files episode was on.  I said to the grand-boy, “See James Garner?  Now that is some swagger.”

“What show is this, anyway?” he asked me.

“‘The Rockford Files’ from the 1970’s!” I told him.

He grimmaced and asked “Why do people want shows from the 70s anyway?  Do they wish they had a time machine so they could go back there or something?”

Haha.  Laugh. Laugh.  Maybe…

But then it became related

Just now, as I was about ready to push the “publish” button on this post, Gavin was leaving to go home to have a special New Year’s Eve night with his family, games and snacks and good times.  He came to say good-bye and I hugged him tight and said, “One last kiss in 2011.”  He kissed my cheek.  I feigned sorrow, “But now my other cheek needs one last kiss in 2011 – for you and I will never hug and kiss in 2011 ever again.”  He giggled and kissed my other cheek before bolting toward the door

as he quipped, “Nuh-uh, Nonna – I will build a time machine to come back to 2011.”

{Heart m e l t i n g }  And I would get into that machine, Gav, to collect all the lasts I have maybe missed.

Hello, 2012

Dear 2011 – you gave me all the days you promised you would and I will carry them in my heart forever.

Ok, Stephanie Morgan-you did this to me.  Love you for the sharing.  But you’re killing me! xxoo


15 thoughts on “At Last

  1. I almost want to say that this is a downer!:) However, I get what you mean. It’s sad to see things go and even sadder when you don’t realize they’re gone until years later, they’ve just slipped away. I wonder why life is like that. Looking on the upside, it’s wonderful to watch good things happen and you look back and can’t remember when they weren’t there, very shortly after their arrival. I can think of six little nieces and nephews that happened just that way. Happy New Year, Momma!

  2. I know, Dessy. I am melancholy, but only in the way that I am determined to NOT miss blessing after blessing, and the glory and favor of the Lord. I want to see it, recognize its great value and record God’s absolute faithfulness. I never want to look back and wonder what happened when. I want to be aware, because God is good. And He has been faithful. Love you, sweetness. Happy New Year to you, too and good-bye to the last of the single days!! xxoo

  3. Wow, Jeanie. I shouldn’t have read your blog tonight. Now I can’t quit crying. I need those kisses and hugs from my grandchildren and my children, but I can’t have them tonight.

  4. I have read that exact same book, and I sobbed like a little baby. Just sitting here this morning and reading your blog (while crying like a little baby) I remembered its words. I like your response to Tredessas comment about being determined not to miss the blessings and not to let a year go by not remembering what happened when! I will embrace that determination! Love your blog, and love you! Happy New Year!!!

  5. I love the way you document life, the way you DO notice the important things, big and small, the way the people in your life can’t help but know how vital they are to your every day. That’s why I gave you the book, because you remind me, just like Karen Kingsbury, to slow down, pay attention, and savor the blessings God has given me. He is an amazing giver, isn’t He? Love you!

  6. Jeanie,
    Your words are welcome and accurate, like a warm blanket in the cold. And yet, the have a bite to them. As a new father reading this blog, all the things that I had been rejoicing in suddenly seemed like chaff in the wind. The other night, Zach had his first really big tumble. a crack on the noggin even I felt. Holding him as he cried, brought me back to childhood, when I would be held by my father or mother. I almost found myself smelling my father when I held Zach close during his sobbing. I find myself wondering, “what will it be like when I get to see Jesus…” It seems this is the “glory of man” when all that we are seems to wither like the grass of the field. That we become dusty memories in a box, long forgotten in the ages that may come. But it only seems that way, for as the life of your family attests, we serve an Everlasting God. Thank Jesus we, and our stories, are not forgotten! Miss you guys!

  7. Wow- amazing- and so poignant. Life passes by, and how much are we missing? My 20 year old son hugged me last night and when I asked him if he was off to bed, told me that he wanted to spend time with his family. This post just points out how important moments like that are. Thank you for opening our eyes to the realization of “lasts”, and how special they really are.
    (Tears running down face…..)

  8. Wow Bless you for warming my heart and sending it back in time to recall many lasts in my life. Yes like most I’m crying but I think its more out of a sense of humbleness for the Lord has given us those memories and this wonderful heart full of love. My lasts make me cry to the Lord with Thankfullness and the faith that he’ll send me more first and last blessings with each new day. You have reminded me to keep my eyes and heart open to recieve..Thank you so!

  9. Wow, Jeanie! That was absolutely incredible. My babies are still small but I can’t help but notice how my heart sinks just a little when I try to help me 3 year old with something and he confidently replies, “I can do it.” My daughter is getting so tall and independent and I’m not “required” in the ways I was before. Even though things are changing, I’ll always be mommy and they’ll always need me in one way or another. However, your blog just reminded me, again, of how much I still need them. We really never know when something will be our last. This has me thinking about March 26, 1994 (my son was born the same day in 2008) when my baby brother Chance died. He was at our house the day before and cried the whole stinkin’ time! I was actually kind of glad when my dad and his mom came to get him. Little did I know that that would be the last time I’d get to hold him. The next day he went down for a nap and didn’t wake up. Lasts… wow. Thank you for sharing this Jeanie. God bless you.

  10. JEANIE…..YOU ARE A FANTASTIC WRITER IN EXPRESSING YOUR FEELINGS!!!! ALL THE TIMES I SPEND WITH MY HEATHER AND BENJER AND NICOLE ARE SO PRECIOUS TO ME!!!!! I CAN NEVER GET ENOUGH HUGS AND KISSES FROM THEM. My big thing is to tell Nicole “I LOVE YOU SO MUCH” everyday!!!! (I used to wear out those words with H and B. ) I NEVER want them to forget how much I love them and cherish my moments with them!!!!!!! Thank you so much Jeanie!!!!! LOVE YOU

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