Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Last

her last day of high school.

"Firsts" are quite often noted, celebrated, and recorded. A baby's entire first year is a catalog of 'firsts': first bath, first smile, first tooth, first time they roll over, sit up, crawl, walk. As the child ages, more 'firsts' fill their memory books, like their first taste of a certain food, their first trip to see someone or something special, and their first best friend. Even possessions get in on the 'first' action, with many first teddy bears, bikes, and, eventually, cars photographed, written about and heralded in this journey of newness.

Of course, right along with all these 'firsts' are many 'lasts'. But how many of them are even noticed? It may be years before a 'last' is recalled as having been a 'last'. "Do you remember that trip to Mexico? That was our last we took as a family." There are varying reasons why 'lasts' aren't recorded as such when they occur, the most obvious reason being, we don't plan for them. It's not that we wouldn't record them if we could (I know I, for one, will photograph anything given enough warning to grab my camera!), it's just that they seem like any other event at the time, then something changes in the participant's life that causes the repeat of the event to be impossible, and it becomes a 'last'. 'Lasts' happen every day in subtle ways. The demolition of an old building along your drive to work means that was the last time you ever saw that brick work coated in years of graffiti. The opening of that new home furnishings chain store means that couch you bought was the last you will ever get from a mom and pop shop in the area, as they have all closed their doors.

And, while familiar buildings and events hold 'last' moments for us to note and reflect, it is the 'lasts' with people that may leave us wishing we had known. Our children grow so quickly, we capture those 'firsts' in a blur of film, as the 'lasts' pile up unnoticed...until...that day, last summer when you were pushing your son on the swings, you could not have known then that by this summer he would be too old for such things. The last push. Or, that kiss that set your world spinning, you could not have known that person would abruptly change heart. The last kiss. Or, that person who gave you life and loved you unconditionally through so many 'firsts' and 'lasts', you could not know, whether suddenly gone or gradually watching them slip from you, exactly what morning would be their final. The last day.

All this to say that the few 'lasts' you are able to capture, do. They are often as important as the 'firsts'. I know the 'last' that yesterday held for Shell was. The last day of high school.

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