24 May 2007

This may be the last time

There is a photo that I haven't been able to look at without crying since my sister died. It is of all five of us siblings, arms around each other, laughing in a park.

It was taken maybe a dozen years ago, maybe 15. We didn't know when it was taken that it was the last time we would all be together in the same place at the same time. We were just having a picnic, worrying about the beans burning and the yellow jackets buzzing around, watching the kids, eating and drinking and laughing.

We didn't know that we would leave that picnic and never have the opportunity to get together again - distance, time, disability and money conspired to keep us apart.

Every time I look at it, I think of the gospel song by the Blind Boys of Alabama - "This May Be the Last Time."

When I first heard it, it didn't seem like a gospel song. "This may be the last time we sing together. This may be the last time, I don't know." (The Rolling Stones also did a slightly different version. Ahem.)

But since then, I have come to realize the importance of that message. It may always be the last time, and you really never do know.

Your loved one may walk out the door and never come back. YOU may walk out the door and never come back. You may never sit down to a meal together again. You may never again hear that stupid story that always makes you laugh every time they tell it.

This may be the last time. It seems like a sad message, but it is also a joyful one if we truly get it. Because it may always be the last time, our mission is to maximize the number of moments where we remember that every time is special.

I am lucky to have a lifetime of zany memories saved up from my sis. Because she got it a long time ago. She always said "You have to do stuff so that when you are old and lying in bed looking at the ceiling, you have something to look back on."

I had more fun sitting in traffic with her than I have had doing supposedly entertaining things with jerks (like going to the Gipsy Kings concert with Leslie, remember, Gael?).

Because if you are going to sit in traffic in an unrefrigerated truck with a highly perishable product (flowers) on a 100 degree day, the only way to pass the time is to belt out "Freeway of Love" with your windows down, right?

My sister got it, and I thank her for helping me to remember as often as I have been able to.

16 comments:

dobbs said...

It's good to be reminded to cherish whatever time we spend with our loved ones.
Thanks for sharing with us all those lovely memories of your sister.

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Hello Suebob,

The time which we spend with our siblings always memorable...thanks for sharing...

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super des said...

This sounds like an email forward. Should I pass it on to 10 friends?

Seriously though, it is a good message. The more I learn about your sister the more I like her, and the sorrier I am for the world's loss. However, as has been said before, I know she's having fun wherever she is.

:)

V-Grrrl said...

My sister was diagnosed with cancer when I was 16 and died on my 20th birthday.

I just wanted to extend my sympathy...

lizgwiz said...

Sounds like you really got lucky in the sister lottery. Love hearing your stories.

one smarmy mama said...

why'd you have to go and make me cry this early in the morning?

*hug*

Kris said...

Suebob-
Thank you so much for the reminder. I was sitting here dreading the 16 hour drive with an 8 month old to a tacky resort town next month to spend 4 days with my parents, brothers, sisters-in-laws and nieces and nephews, forgetting the big picture. Life is fast, busy, hectic, short. Your message is so important. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your openness, humor and dedication. Your sister sounds like a lovely, lively woman. Thank you for sharing her with us.

meno said...

alwayd a good thing to be reminded of.

Any chance we can see the picture?

Karianna said...

It is a great thing to be reminded of. But sometimes I wonder if the moment is best enjoyed if you don't think about how it could be the last.

A moment in the park sounds like a wonderful memory.

arse poetica said...

Beautiful!

QT said...

With every story you tell, your sis sounds like more and more of a gem. The connection you can have with a sibling is so wonderful.

I have a few pics like that of my sis - but I have the luxury of picking up the phone and talking to her.

Maggie said...

Suebob, you're doing great. Breaking down, sobbing, remembering and taking strength. I think you're beautiful.

Suzanne said...

Your sister sounds like such an amazing person, which is not surprising at all. You have a lot in common with her.

Kentucky Girl said...

Sorry to hear of your sister's passing. That is great that you can remember all the great times you've had together. Doesn't it feel sometimes like you can't remember all the fun times but you know there are more than you CAN remember? I wish our brains had rewind like TiVo.

Matthew said...

I think about this all the time - especially now that I have kids.

I can't help thinking this might be the last time they see me, when I'm saying goodbye.

It makes me appreciate the moments a little more.

Dew said...

It's funny, isn't it, that when we counsel people to "live for today" it is so often mistaken for license to be jerky and selfish and thoughtless, when in fact it should be seen as the opportunity to leave the world a better place for having been in it. After 9/11 when we lost my friends Fred and Pete, I just remember thinking, "What if the last word you exchanged with someone wasn't a kind or loving one?" What a legacy; I'm so glad you have your silly, funny, happy, and even mundane memories of your beloved sister. They will comfort and support you through the long years without her.

Pax.

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