As parents, we like to mark the "firsts": first words, first steps, first day of school... We take pictures, make scrapbooks, keep programs and save little souvenirs of the event. Our mental archive is full of these occasions for access later.
Things that are harder to identify are the "lasts". Some lasts are worthy of celebration: last diaper, last day at daycare, last carpool. Other lasts are harder to take and a little grieving process accompanies each. Parents of teenagers witness these lasts early on with exponential increase in the latter teen years: last time she lets me have a mommy kiss when dropping her off at school, last school project I helped her complete, last slumber party...
Many times, we don't recognize the lasts when they occur. In the same pair of pants it helps cushion our grief for its loss if we're not aware of it, and make us wish we had cherished it more when it was still here.
Where is all of this coming from? My daughter's boyfriend proposed to her Saturday night. They plan on getting married next August. She will be 20. I...will be having regularly scheduled nervous breakdowns until then. This is where the flood...no...hurricane of "lasts" begins. Was it a surprise? No. They have been dating since she was 15. Through school changes, college, his bootcamp and going to school in Huntsville, nothing has drifted them apart. He's a good guy: a Marine, sweet, a Christian and absolutely adores her and her high-maintenance emotional ways. I truly love him like a son. BUT...and there is always a but...she is my
roommate and best friend and I'm having issues here. (gets up to get a hanky) I fully understand my charge as a parent is to raise her so she can make it in the world on her own. I GET IT. I'm all about that. But here I sit during the holidays realizing that it will be our LAST Christmas at home together. I GET that there will be other joyous events and holidays and this is BY FAR not the end...but I get to grieve, okay? I should warn you also, dear reader, that when I take down the tree and have to put her ornaments in a separate box, I will be a basket case. I WILL, however consciously cherish this Christmas as much as I did our first, but with a few more tears.